The 2016 Tony Awards opening performance focused on the dreams of children and growing up to perform onstage. The award winners in the Leading and Featured Roles in a Play categories nodded to length of their careers and revealed that dreams do come true.
“Oh wow,” Jayne Houdyshell exhaled as she accepted the first performance award of the evening, Best Performance - Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for The Humans. “Well, I've never been one to rush into things, but... The fact that at the age of 62, 42 years into a career that this should come my way, all that means … [is] that the depths of my gratitude is really, really, really profound.”
Her Broadway scene partner, Reed Birney, who took the award for Best Performance - Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, echoed Houdyshell’s sentiments: “The last thing I want to say is I've been an actor for almost 42 years, which I cannot believe I am saying. All 35 of them were pretty bad, and that's a lot of them, and I just couldn't get anything going, so the last 8 have been great, but the thing that was always great, wherever I was, whatever level I was on, were the amazing people I got to work with. Almost all of them were hilarious and talented and full of passion and joy, and they loved putting on plays and telling stories.”
Both first-time winners mentioned Humans playwright Stephen Karam’s youth and told the audience there would be many beautiful plays from him for many more years.
"When I first came to New York in 1960 from school, I consulted an astrologer, who told me my greatest successes would come late in my career. I thought she meant 30. The fact of the matter is there really is no late in an actor's career, there's just the journey, and there's just now.” Although Frank Langella took a jab at his age when accepting the award for Best Performance - Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for The Father, it is his fourth Tony, having won his first in 1975.
Jessica Lange won the Tony for Best Performance - Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for A Long Day’s Journey Into Night with her first nomination 24 years after her first appearance on The Great White Way in a 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. "I can't tell you, really, this is a dream come true, and it fills me with happiness, even on such a sad day as this. You know, it's a thrill and a joy to be in the theatre, and to be acknowledged by this community. I can't tell you how grateful I am. How moved I am.”