‘Hamilton’ musical dominates at Tony Awards

Photo courtesy of Hamilton: An American Musical

The Tony Awards, or more accurately, the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, were decided, for the 70th time, last week on June 12. Named after the founder of the American Theatre Wing, these awards recognize various achievements and talents in the realm of live Broadway theatre. While the debate of if the Tony Awards are the Oscars of Theatre or merely a “promotional vehicle” still rages, the fact remains that those who won the awards still deserve recognition for their talent.

There were 36 Broadway plays and musicals eligible for Tony Awards this year, about half of which were musicals. These plays included “Allegiance,” “Amazing Grace,” “An Act of God,” “China Doll,” and “Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” none of which received nominations for any of the
24 awards.

Of the rest of the plays, only eight won awards with “Hamilton: an American Musical” bringing in 11 single-handedly. The musical, which was about US founding father Alexander Hamilton, debuted on Broadway in August of last year to immediate success. “Hamilton” is an interesting yet informative form of biography. Songs convey the lesser known points of the American Revolution and aftermath as they pertain to the rather important lead character.

The Tony Awards confirmed the musical’s worth with 16 nominations, a new record. Some of its earned awards include ones for orchestration, choreography and lighting design.

“Hamilton” also earned awards for individual actors. The most interesting of  these categories was Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a  Musical, where three supporting actors in “Hamilton” were nominated for the same award. Beating out actors from “Shuffle Along” and “Waitress,” Daveed Diggs won for his role as Thomas Jefferson.

Phillipa Soo, who played Hamilton’s wife, herself an influential woman, was nominated for the fourth and final category for performers in musicals (Best Performance by a Leading Actress). Instead, however, that honor went to Cynthia Erivo for her role as Celie Harris Johnson in “The Color Purple.” In its original run, this musical also won for best actress when Rhonda LeChanze Sapp was playing the same role.

Based on a book of the same name by Alice Walker, the revival of “The Color Purple” musical also won the category for Best Revival of a Musical.

The second most popular play at the Tony Awards was “The Humans,” a new play about family, illness and relationships. It won in the coveted category of Best Play (with “Hamilton,” of course, winning the similar category of Best Musical) as well as for the category of Best Scenic Design. The other two awards received by “The Humans” were for the respective performances of two of its featured actors, Reed Birney as Erik Blake and Jayne Houdyshell as Deirdre Blake.

The revival of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” garnered seven nominations and won for Best Lighting Design in a Play and for Jessica Lange’s leading role as Mary Tyrone. This was not the play’s first Tony Award, as it received the Tony Award for Best Play in 1957.

“A View from the Bridge” won for Best Revival of a Play and Best Direction of a Play. Ivo van Hove directed this convoluted love story that was originally written and later revised by Arthur Miller. This marks the second time that “A View from the Bridge” won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, having previously earned this honor in 1998.

The remainder of the eligible Broadway plays and musicals won in a more modest number of categories, even though many were nominated for multiple awards.