Little known fact: After winners accept their Tony Award onstage at Radio City Music Hall, they’re shuttled out of the building, across the street, and to another special location where they take photos, enter the Winners’ Circle, and greet the media. In the media room, winners have a chance to catch their breath and answer questions without worrying about an orchestra playing (or trying to play) them off. Here are the highlights from behind closed doors:
1. Gavin Creel watched Falsettos instead of answering questions—at first.
When now Tony winner Gavin Creel first learned of his nomination May 2, he told Playbill about his years-long friendship with fellow nominee (and category competitor) Andrew Rannells, nominated for Falsettos. As Creel hopped on the media room stage, the screens carrying the feed of the awards show flashed with the Falsettos cast performing their number. True to form, Creel was nearly more enthused for his friends than himself. “I have so many friends on that stage right now!” he exclaimed. “Andrew Rannells is about to play racquetball on national television!”
Another longtime friend, two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster, handed Creel his Tony during the telecast. The two starred opposite each other when Foster won her first Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Creel earned his first nomination. “This is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life,” he told the press. “Sutton’s very special to me because my Broadway debut was Millie 15 years ago this spring.”
2. Alex Lacamoire cheered (loudly!) for his In The Heights and Hamilton collaborator.
Alex Lacamoire won his third Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for Dear Evan Hansen, having previously won for In The Heights and Hamilton. After leaving the media room stage, he stood at the back to watch the award presented for Best Choreography. When Andy Blankenbuehler won the award, a shout from the back of the room “Andy!” erupted. It was Lacamoire cheering on his friend—who also took home his third Tony post In The Heights and Hamilton.
3. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul want to watch the Tonys in a new way.
The dynamic songwriting duo of Dear Evan Hansen exploded with energy. Still finishing each other’s sentences, one reporter asked what meant more: the Oscar for La La Land or the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen. “This is sacred ground to us and nothing compares to this,” said Paul without hesitation. In the middle of their interview, director Rebecca Taichman won for Indecent to much press room applause. “I wish I were watching you watch the show!” cried Pasek to the pool of reporters. “You’re actually the informed people who have good opinions!” Paul added.
4. Rebecca Taichman made the case for women.
“Firstly and honestly, I’m genuinely in shock and overwhelmed so that’s real,” said Taichman. Taichman is the sixth woman to have won for Best Direction of a Play. (Only two women have won Best Direction of a Musical.) “I remember in great clarity in 1998 watching the Tony Awards when Julie Taymor and Garry Hynes won and I thought, ‘Wow, a woman can win?’ It made it visible and I think what is visible becomes possible,” she continued. “I hope this amazing thing that just happened helps encourage women all over of every color and taste and style and viewpoint to make theatre to tell stories that matter to them. I think that’s what we need more than anything.”
5. Bette Midler for President.
Broadway’s Dolly Levi took home the trophy for Leading Actress in a Musical and refused to be played off the telecast. Still, for all her ribbing on the broadcast, the Divine Miss M was brought to tears in her emotional press room interview. “I’m a loner. I don’t go much for crowds so the idea of ‘community’ was quite foreign,” she said. “I started in [theatre in] 1965 and there was no community. It was everyone for himself and sometimes you went to drinks. It wasn’t the way it is today. There’s birthdays celebrated. It is real life in one theatre underneath one roof. You become a family, and I wasn’t prepared for that. It stunned me.” And if Midler knows how to make an entrance she most certainly knows how to make an exit, leaving the press room with one line: “Bette Midler for President.”