Tony night was darkly colored by the Orlando massacre, which took a huge part of Broadway’s heart, but trouping through adversity is what defines theatre. Here are a few memorable fragments of the night, heard and overheard and actually witnessed:
Marking the Moment
The Chairman of The American Theatre Wing, a Tony-winning costume designer named William Ivey Long, hastily came up with a look for the evening. All Beacon patrons were asked to wear a silver ribbon to symbolically mark the day of violence.
A Tony to Teacher
Marilyn McCormick, the Detroit high-school teacher who received the Tony for Excellence in Theatre Education, told the press the award was a wonderful way to conclude her career. She said any ambitions to be an actress didn’t go beyond college. “I always wanted to teach theatre,” she said. This is the second time this prize, presented by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University, has been presented. It was won last year by Corey Mitchell, theatre arts teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts.
Celie Goes for Seconds
On the first floor of the Manhattan Jewish Community Center, en route to the press room after the telecast, Oprah Winfrey loudly and joyfully congratulated Cynthia Erivo on her Tony win. Erivo became the second actress (after LaChanze in 2006) to get the award for playing Celie in The Color Purple. Winfrey produced both Broadway versions of the musical, which, as a Stephen Spielberg movie, lost all ten of its Oscar shots (including one for Winfrey’s supporting performance of Sophia).
A Family Affair
Jessica Lange’s dates on her Tony night were all in the family: her daughter (by Mikhail Baryshnikov) and her granddaughter. She told the press she got the award for her all-time favorite role, Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Commercial Break Antics
During one of the commercial breaks—an infamous time of fun for those in the theatre—host James Corden asked Jake Gyllenhaal (whom he was about to introduce) what he had in his mouth. “Gum,” said Gyllenhaal. “Here, let me have that,” Corden ordered, taking it in his hand and popping it in his own mouth. Later, after the two finished an impromptu rendition of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” with Sean Hayes, Corden returned the gum to sender, and Gyllenhaal popped it back in his mouth. Ewwww!
In an evening of almost historic wins, Lin-Manuel Miranda cheered the hardest when he lost the Best Actor Tony—to Leslie Odom Jr., his Hamilton co-star, who played the title character’s chief nemesis and eventual killer, Aaron Burr. “Lin-Manuel Miranda. God bless you, man, for giving us a new vision of what’s possible. I thank God for your vision. I thank God for the calling of your life.” He then went on to thank “my cabinet, which was this brilliant company of actors.”
David and “Alexander Goliath”
David Rockwell, whose Faberge egg-like set for She Loves Me robbed Hamilton of its 12th Tony (and a place beside The Producers as the biggest Tony winner of all-time), was a popular figure at the after-parties, getting greetings like the David who fought Goliath.
A View from the Bathroom
It wasn’t enough that set designer Jan Versweyveld lost two Tonys (for A View From the Bridge and The Crucible) in one night, he was also in the bathroom when his partner since 1980, Ivo van Hove, was named Best Director of a Play for A View From the Bridge.
Sum of 42
Tony winners for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Play—Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell, who play husband and wife in The Humans—have both had the same mistress for 42 years: The Theatre. Both mentioned in their acceptance speeches that this was how long they’d been acting. A friend of Birney quipped, “This has been like waiting for Susan Hayward to win the Oscar!”
After they collected their wagon-load of Tonys, all the Hamiltonians skipped the Plaza party and made a beeline for their own not-so-little clambake at Tavern on the Green. At one point, the joint was so crowded and congested that Lin-Manuel Miranda had to step outside to get a strong whiff of fresh air for fear of choking.
Rental No More
Corden’s dad said that his son was so uncertain about his CBS future that he rented the furniture. Sunday night’s high-energy, high-rating hosting duties should shelve those insecurities.