NEW YORK >> Five memorable moments from the 2017 Tony Awards:
DON’T MESS WITH BETTE: It takes real bravado to even attempt to shoo off Bette Midler when she’s winning her first competitive Tony. Producers tried on Sunday — and failed miserably. The Divine Miss M, who won best actress for “Hello, Dolly!” was not going to be denied and signaled she was in a feisty mood early: “I’d like to thank all the Tony voters — many of whom I’ve actually dated,” she joked. When the orchestra tried to goose her along with swelling instruments, Midler was not having it. “Shut that crap off!” she said. The orchestra went wisely silent.
TWO PRESIDENTS: Host Kevin Spacey managed to portray two U.S. leaders in one telecast — former president Bill Clinton and Frank Underwood, the fictional president he plays on Netflix’s political thriller “House of Cards.” His Clinton joked about food and his wife’s email problems, while his fictional one — accompanied by fictional wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) — admitted he wanted to leave before Midler started to thank anyone else.
NO TECHNICAL SNAFUS: There were none of the technical or human accidents during the telecast — at least any non-Midler-related — that have marred previous awards shows, including the wrong winner announced at this year’s Oscars and sound issues at the Grammys. Spacey talked about the show’s accountants and said: “You guys do not have to worry about them tonight, at all.”
THE PERIL OF LEADING: After the Tony nominations in May, the smart money must have been on “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” which had snapped up a leading 12 nods and looked strong in every category. But a month later, that show was singing the blues. The musical, lifted from Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” won just two technical awards on Sunday.
WHERE’S THE DIVERSITY?: A year after everyone on Broadway was proud to point to the diversity of the winners, a long list of white men and women walked up to collect their trophies. No person of color won an acting award, though some of the acting categories featured a diverse list of nominees. Some non-white nominees, like set designer Mimi Lien and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, won trophies, and the cast of “Jitney” — mostly African-American — helped it win the revival Tony. But might we start seeing #TonysSoWhite?