The 71st Annual Tony Awards took place at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Sunday, hosted by Kevin Spacey.
Spacey took his hosting duties very seriously, using his opening number to sing a song about filling the shoes of popular hosts who came before him, like James Corden and Neil Patrick Harris. Previous host Whoopi Goldberg made a cameo in Spacey’s opening performance to offer some tips on hosting the show.
Spacey must have headed Goldberg’s expert advice, as the rest of the evening went off without a hitch.
“Here’s a quick rundown of some of the themes in this year’s spectacular season – divorce, economic depression, infidelity, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 9/11, suicide, and greed,” said Spacey. “So, we are in for such a fun night tonight!”
Kicking things off, the first winner of the evening was Michael Aronov, who won for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Oslo.
Spacey took the stage again to reminisce about the evening he made his very own Broadway debut, and he mentioned that all of the playwrights nominated for Best Play this year were American writers making their Broadway debuts.
The first performance of the night was by the cast of Come From Away, a new original musical about a small town in Newfoundland that took in thousands of refugees during 9/11.
Gavin Creel took home the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in Hello, Dolly! In his adorably bubbly acceptance speech, Creel dedicated his award to the music program of his alma mater and encouraged those of his colleagues in the audience who could afford to do so to start a scholarship to help welcome young people into the world of theatre.
There was then an emotional performance by the revival cast of Miss Saigon, followed by Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon taking home a Tony for Featured Actress in a Play for her role in The Little Foxes.
Next, there was a performance by the cast of Falsettos.
James Earl Jones was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award this year, prior to the main awards ceremony.
Ben Platt graced the stage with his moving performance of Dear Evan Hansen’s “Waving Through A Window.” Dear Evan Hansen was the big winner of the evening, earning six Tony awards, including Best Score, Best Lead Actor in a Musical, and the coveted Best Musical.
Another major award went to Bette Midler, who took home Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her starring role in Hello, Dolly!
The awards this year were presented by The American Theatre Wing. As Sally Field, who was nominated for her role in the revival of The Glass Menagerie, said in her speech about the organization, which focuses on developing educational programs, will continue to “illuminate the darkness with the blazing truth of art.”
Other stunning performances included those by the casts of Hello, Dolly!, Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1912, Bandstand, and by the Rockettes, who performed at the event for the first time in 13 years with featured artists The Color Purple’s Cynthia Erivo and Hamilton’s Leslie Odam Junior.
From original works of art to tried-and-true revivals, the 71st Annual Awards was bursting with passion and creativity, a truly inspiring evening for anyone with an appreciation for the arts and for what the arts mean for our culture and society.