Awards season has officially concluded. Now that we’ve had a few days to fully digest the wins of Broadway’s biggest night, let’s reflect and break down the show.
The 72nd American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards occurred on Sunday, June 10 at the iconic Radio City Music Hall, co-hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. Their co-hosting gig had its moments (the positives mainly coming from Sara), but overall was not memorable, most of the audience forgot they were hosting.
Leading into the big night. From the get-go, there was a lot of chatter about this year’s awards. There were two sides to this chatter, there was certainly positive sentiment surrounding the incredible season we’ve had regarding produced plays. When it came to the musical nominations, there was some unspoken frustration because of the main contenders for most new musical categories, among them Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical, Mean Girls, The Band’s Visit, and Frozen — all of which are based on previous works. That doesn’t take away from their worthiness of their spot in a Broadway house, it just sparks a discussion in the theatre world surrounding future works.
Generally speaking, the winners were expected this year when it came to original works. The Band’s Visit, based on the 2007 film swept the musical categories, taking home 10 out of its 11 nominations, including Best Musical. Some were surprised by the wins in the acting categories, Tony Shalhoub, who won for Best Performance by an actor in a Leading Role of a Musical was surprised as well, “If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of questions.” Many expected the category to go to Ethan Slater of Spongebob Squarepants. The musical about an Israeli film in which an Egyptian army band that goes to the wrong Israeli town won a lot of creative Tonys as well including the recently reinstated Best Sound Design Tony, which went to Kai Harada.
Perhaps the most competitive field in the original musicals category was for Best Book, many were expecting Mean Girls‘ Tina Fey to win this category, but with much surprise, it went to Itamar Moses of The Band’s Visit.
Like clockwork, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child swept this year’s Tonys, including the award for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play (John Tiffany). Most of the creative team were insistent on keeping the magic performed in the theatre a secret and “alive”.
The most competitive categories were actually the revivals. Though for plays, many would argue there were clear winners, mainly hailing from Angels in America‘s 11 nominations (which was the most nominated play in history) the competition was still fierce and the highest caliber of play productions we’ve seen in a long time. Angels in America, written by Tony Kushner, explores the AIDS crisis (and other political themes) in New York City among gay men in the 1980s won three (3) Tonys, including Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (Andrew Garfield) and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (Nathan Lane).
Musically, Once On This Island surprised all, beating out classics My Fair Lady and Carousel. Producer Ken Davenport was floored by the win and spoke to the Michael Arden directed revival, “This was a bit of a David and Goliath type situation…it’s a real credit, I think to the voters and we’re so thankful to them for rewarding such a unique brand of storytelling.” The Once On This Island win does prove that authenticity and heart in a production can truly shine through.
Additional big Tony wins include Glenda Jackson and Laurie Metcalf for Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, David Zinn who won for best scenic design of a musical for Spongebob. Both Bruce Springsteen and John Leguizamo were honored with Special Tony Awards.
Highlights from the evening included performances from all Best Musical nominees, Robert De Niro cursing out President Trump, and an honorary Tony presented to Melody Herzfeld who bravely shielded 65 students in her classroom during the horrendous shooting at The Parkland School this past February. Her students, the survivors of the shooting honored her and graced the Radio City stage with an emotional rendition of “Seasons of Love”. #MSDStrong
The 2018 Tony Awards were a calmer night than usual, but onto the 2018-2019 season! For a full list of winners, please visit: https://www.tonyawards.com/index.html