It’s every theater kid’s favorite Sunday. The Tony Awards provide theatergoers the opportunity to celebrate shows that have made a lasting impression on audiences and critics. Last year’s Tony Award ceremony was the most diverse of any award show. This year proved itself diverse and emotional. The nominated plays and musicals contain hard hitting themes and messages. Each play introduction and explanation was poignant and memorable. Each musical performance dazzled and toyed with heart strings. Whether it be the reminiscent Hello, Dolly or the ever heart wrenching Dear Evan Hansen, the 71st Tony Award ceremony struck a cord in hearts across the world from start to finish.
Kevin Spacey was not the first choice host for this year’s ceremony. He proved to himself worthy within the first few minutes of the show. The opening number was cleverly crafted to include and poke fun at this year’s best musical nominees. Throughout the number there were numerous cameos from previous hosts. Spacey praised the incredible work happening on and off broadway and provided the ceremony with impressions the whole crowd enjoyed.
Spacey was light on his feet and tactful with his jokes. He closed the show out next to the legendary Patti Lupone and held his own. All in all, Spacey was a great host and kept the show moving. The show provided fun numbers besides the musical nominations. Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. amazed the crowd with their vocals on “New York, New York” while the Radio City Rockettes beamed behind them. Spacey’s carefully thought out bits provided moments of laughter that smartly touched upon contemporary issues without creating tension.
Performances from the nominated musicals brought down the house. Natasha Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812’s Josh Groban gave audiences a reason to see the show if they were questioning buying tickets. Groban’s vocals, paired with the stellar cast’s performance, were rowdy and fun. Bandstand brought the house down after showing it’s (now) award winning choreography following Dr. Jill Biden’s speech supporting our country’s veterans. Hello, Dolly decided not to showcase its lead actress Bette Midler and chose a much more subtle number. This was disappointing as the show is a theater favorite and classic. Such a minimalistic performance for the Tonys did not do much to advertise all the show has to offer, although the show will without a doubt continue to sell out.
Even with so many performances to mention, there is still so much to talk about Pasek and Paul’s Dear Evan Hansen. Dear Evan Hansen stole the show and hearts of viewers. Ben Platt’s performance as an anxious and emotionally struggling teen somehow commands the stage in a manner beyond worthy of the best actor award. Since the show’s Off-Broadway premiere Platt has been reducing audiences to tears. Platt employs the opportunity of saying things so many have failed to put into words before this show. His fan base is growing rapidly and this Tony win will only further improve his popularity.
The best musical award is well deserved and Dear Evan Hansen is so important. Mental health is not an easy topic of discussion. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have crafted a piece of theater that expresses and talks about emotions society often wishes it could ignore. The entire cast and company of Dear Evan Hansen puts on a show every night that has truly left a mark on contemporary theater.
Throughout history theater has been a medium to voice opinions and tackle modern struggles and thought. Theater has brought audiences across the globe joy and laughter as well as heartbreak and tears. There are so few topics theater has not touched upon, and when one of these topics arises, a new and beautiful piece of art is born. Last year’s Tony Award ceremony aired within 24 hours of the horrific shooting in Orlando. On that June 12th evening the theater community came together to support those affected by such awful violence and thought.
While, unfortunately, the world is still not at peace, the theater community has again rallied to support those affected by hate and negativity to prove that no amount of hate can trump the love there is in this world. Art is a work of love; theater is a work of love. Art is so impactful, so moving, and so important. The art and artists acknowledged by this year’s Tony Awards make the world a better place. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and recipients. From all of the theater kids who watched from their couch and went to bed inspired and uplifted, thank you.
A full list of Tony Award recipients can be found here.