Dear Evan Hansen took the top prize for best musical at the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night (June 11), winning six awards in total.
“The show is about how lonely we all can feel and I think we want kids to know that loneliness or that sense of isolation is a temporary thing,” songwriter Benj Pasek told the press backstage. “Whatever pain you feel, you can use it to make something that you can use to help yourself for save yourself and that’s what’s so beautiful about theater.”
The award was presented by Hamilton scribe and original titular star Lin-Manuel Miranda. “During difficult times musicals have not only provided us with entertainment and escape, they’ve also given us hope,” Miranda said.
Unlike in 2016, when Hamilton swept in most categories, this year the race for best musical was a tight one and awards for the shows were fairly well-distributed across categories rather than going to one leader. Dear Evan Hansen took awards for score, book, orchestrations, featured actress in a musical. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 won for set design and lighting design. Come From Away received the award for best director of a musical. Bandstand received the award for choreography which went to Andy Blankenbuehler, who won last year for Hamilton.
While Cynthia Nixon and Kevin Kline took home top acting honors in the play categories for The Little Foxes and Present Laughter, Bette Midler and Ben Platt won the awards for leading actress and actor in a musical for Hello, Dolly! and Dear Evan Hansen. Glenn Close, who is reviving her Tony-winning performance as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway, presented the award for leading actor in a musical to Midler. “This has been one of the greatest professional experience of my entire life,” Midler said. “I can’t remember the last time I had so much smoke blown up my ass, but there is no more room!”
Tina Fey presented the award for leading actor in a musical to Ben Platt. “The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful!” Platt cried as the orchestra played to signal time.
Kevin Spacey opened the broadcast with a musical medley featuring rewritten lyrics to songs from some of the best musical nominees and poking fun at the somewhat last-minute request Spacey got to host. “I’m Broadway bound,” Spacey sang to the tune of “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen, as the show’s star Ben Platt beamed in the audience. He wore a cast in a homage to Platt’s character’s in the show, and then the cast became a knee brace for the Groundhog Day bit, in a nod to that show’s star Andy Karl’s injury day’s before opening night. Steven Colbert appeared in a groundhog mask. Billy Crystal offered hosting advice (“Wear a dress!”), and Whoopi Goldberg came out of the closet (literally) and helped out too.
Spacey donned a fat suit in a nod to Josh Groban as Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and sang a version of the show’s prologue joking that “Hugh Jackman isn’t here.” The Rockettes joined the cast of the nominated Come From Away to sing a version of the show’s opening number “Welcome to the Rock,” which refers to the musical’s setting Newfoundland but was retooled to refer to Rockefeller Center.
“They haven’t fired me yet!” Spacey joked when he came back after a commercial break. Spacey performed some of his famous impressions throughout the broadcast, including Johnny Carson and Bill Clinton.
Midler did not perform on the broadcast, and instead David Hyde Pierce, who was nominated for leading actor in a musical, performed “Penny in my Pocket.” Tony nominee Josh Groban led the cast of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 in a medley of songs from the show. Ben Platt performed “Waving Through a Window.” The cast of Groundhog Day performed “Seeing You.”
Jill Biden received a standing ovation introducing Bandstand, which is about a group of World War II veterans who cope with returning to civilian life by forming a band. The cast performed the number “Nobody Tells Me No.”
There were also addition musical performances by last years Tony winners for leading actor and actress in a musical Leslie Odom Jr. and Cynthia Erivo. The pair sang “New York, New York” with the Rockettes. Erivo also presented the award for best score with John Legend to Justin Paul and Benj Pasek for Dear Evan Hansen. (Legend was a co-producer of Jitney, which won best revival of a play.) Paul and Pasek also wrote the lyrics for La La Land, in which Legend starred. Steven Levenson also received the Tony Award for the show’s book.
Tony winner and nominee this year for War Paint, Patti LuPone, joined Spacey onstage for a final musical number “The Curtain Falling,” joined onstage by some of the year’s winners.
A complete list of winners is below:
"Dear Evan Hansen"
Best Revival of a Musical
Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, "Come From Away"
Best Book of a Musical
Steven Levenson, "Dear Evan Hansen"
Best Original Score
Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, "Dear Evan Hansen"
Alex Lacamoire, "Dear Evan Hansen"
Andy Blankenbuehler, "Bandstand"
Best Scenic Design in a Musical
Mimi Lien, "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"
Best Costume Design in a Musical
Best Lighting Design in a Musical
Bradley King, "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Bette Midler, "Hello, Dolly!"
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Rachel Boy Jones, "Dear Evan Hansen"
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Ben Platt, "Dear Evan Hansen"
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Gavin Creel, "Hello Dolly"
Best Revival of a Play
Best Direction of a Play
Rebecca Taichman, "Indecent"
Best Scenic Design in a Play
Nigel Hook, "The Play That Goes Wrong"
Best Costume Design in a Play
Jane Greenwood, "The Little Foxes"
Best Lighting Design in a Play
Christopher Ackerland, "Indecent"
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Kevin Kline, "Present Laughter"
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Aronov, "Oslo"
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, "A Doll’s House Part 2"
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Cynthia Nixon, "The Little Foxes"