Hamilton won the Tony Award for best musical and dominated the evening as Scott Rudin joined Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller in the winner’s circle.
It was indeed a coronation for Miranda’s hip-hop-infused musical, which won for his score and book (and inspired an acceptance sonnet and rap), as well as for orchestrations, choreography, costume and lighting design, direction, featured actress and actor and lead actor Leslie Odom Jr. The bounty should help sell many $849 tickets that producers introduced last week. So should the telecast’s four Hamilton numbers, including a parody of the musical’s title song that introduced host James Corden. Corden, a CBS late night host and Tony winner himself, opened the show by expressing solidarity with the victims of the Orlando mass shooting. “Hate will never win,” he said. “Together, we have to make sure of that.”
Rudin, with the best play award for The Humans, reaffirmed that star-less new plays have a fighting chance on Broadway. It helps to have a first-class ensemble, which was recognized with Tonys for featured actor Reed Birney and featured actress Jayne Houdyshell. The Roundabout Theatre Co., which premiered the play off-Broadway and has invested for years in the young playwright, Stephen Karam, won seven Tonys when including The Humans, its best showing by number of awards. Jessica Lange was best actress in a play for the Roundabout’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. As expected, the lauded Color Purple was named best musical revival, with the Rudin-produced View from the Bridge best play revival.
After a season of impressive diversity, black actors won in all of the musical categories: Odom, Cynthia Erivo for Color Purple, and Daveed Diggs and Renee Elise Goldsberry for Hamilton. The night belonged to Miranda’s creation. “I promise tonight’s show will not be all about Hamilton,” Corden joked at the outset. “We will also have commercial breaks.” This was Seller’s fourth new best musical Tony in two decades as a lead producer, beginning with Rent in 1996, a record unmatched in this era. And it was the second year in a row that a musical developed at the Public Theater won the big one. Last year, it was Fun Home.
When Miranda’s musical wasn’t collecting Tonys, casts of his and other shows were performing outside the Beacon Theatre, a nod to the free Ham4Ham performances he leads outside the Richard Rodgers. Minutes before the show, Miranda was giving interviews in Spanish on the red carpet. Sunday solidified his status as a major crossover star in every sense.