The 70th Annual Antoinette Perry Awards, held on Sunday, June 12, were, as expected, a Hamilton affair.
The broadcast, hosted by James Corden, began with a number from the musical and ended with a number from the musical. In between, there was another number, plenty of screen time for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. And along the way, the show managed to pick up 11 of the 16 prizes it was nominated for, including, of course, Best Musical. Miranda won awards for Best Book and Best Score. It only lost out for Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Those losses kept it from tying (or surpassing) The Producers for most Tony wins ever. Somewhere, Mel Brooks was smiling.
Hamilton so completely dominated the awards that no other new musical that opened the entire season won a single award in any category. Where Hamilton was beaten, it was by revivals.
Among plays, Stephen Karam’s drama The Humans, about an American family in crisis, won an impressive four Tony Awards, including Best Play, and prizes for long-time stage veterans Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell.
Frank Langella was named Best Actor in a Play for his portrait of a man succumbing to dementia in The Father. Jessica Lange was named Best Actress for her portrait of a woman losing the battle against morphine addiction in Long Day's Journey Into Night.
A shadow was cast over the proceedings, however, by news of the horrific mass shooting at a gay-oriented Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, which had taken place just hours before. Corden addressed the tragedy first thing, before launching into the broadcast. Several winners spoke about the event when accepting their awards, including Langella and Miranda, who recited a sonnet dedicated to the theme of love.
The theatre community continued to engage with the Orlando massacre throughout the week.
Later on came news that some of Broadway’s biggest stars were coming together under the charitable initiative Broadway for Orlando to record a new benefit single, a recording of Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” It is produced in conjunction with Playbill at Avatar Studios, and will be available for download at BroadwayRecords.com on June 20 and on iTunes shortly thereafter. All proceeds from the sale of the song will benefit the LGBT Center of Central Florida.
Interest in Hamilton proved a tonic to the always ratings-challenged Tonys ceremony. The 2016 broadcast on CBS received its highest viewership since 2001. Total viewership was pegged at 8.73 million, according to tvbythenumbers.
Early reports put viewership up 33 percent from last year, according to ProgrammingInsider.com, which tracks all TV ratings on a daily basis. The Tony Awards won all six half-hour timeslots. Later, numbers put the jump at 60 percent from 2015 in the 18-to-49 demographic.
Helping the figure was the lack of serious competition, other than the Stanley Cup Finals on NBC.
There was an avalanche of Hamilton news in the days to follow. Miranda finally confirmed he would leave the show in early July, to be replaced in the title role by his longtime alternate Javier Muñoz beginning July 11. The upcoming London staging of Hamilton was also confirmed.
On June 16, Miranda held a press conference to discuss all his upcoming projects. (This kind of thing only happens in Hamilton-land.) He revealed some details on his upcoming Hamilton Mixtape, in which various artists record songs from the show. The recording will also feature songs that were cut from the musical.
“I’m letting the artists who are [involved] take the lead on that,” he said. “It’s right now a mix of covers and ‘inspired-bys.’ So there will be a cover of ‘My Shot.’ The chorus is our chorus, but the verses are incredible rappers doing what they do and writing incredible verses that I didn’t write.
One song he did not confirm would make the Mixtape was a cut song entitled “Let It Go,” Alexander Hamilton getting angry when Aaron Burr decides to run for the Senate and Hamilton’s wife Eliza tells him, “You can’t get mad anytime any one else has success.”
“There was another ‘Let It Go’ that was doing very well, thank you very much,” he joked.
Miranda also revealed that a 90-minute Hamilton documentary film will be released October 17 on PBS’ Great Performances. It is titled Hamilton’s America.
And there’s more: In addition to the PBS documentary, RadicalMedia will be filming Hamilton, led by Miranda, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre over the course of two performances later this month. Miranda’s representative confirmed that performances will be filmed in front of a live audience; however, use of the footage has yet to be determined.
The Tonys always bring fallout with them. Bright Star, the original new musical with music and book by Grammy and Emmy winner Steve Martin and music and lyrics by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, won no awards. It will end its run June 26 at Broadway's Cort Theatre. It will have played 30 previews and 109 regular performances.
Shows other than Hamilton are blazing trails.
BroadwayHD, a company co-founded by Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, and Roundabout Theatre Company have announced that they will live stream the Tony-winning revival of She Loves Me, marking the first time ever that a Broadway show has been broadcast live. She Loves Me will be available to watch live, on a pay-per-view basis, on BroadwayHD on June 30 at 8 PM.
Visit broadwayhd.com/shelovesme to reserve a live stream pass to the June 30 broadcast for $9.99; alternatively She Loves Me is free with all annual subscriptions to BroadwayHD’s on-demand library.