Arts & Culture

In a deeply troubled world, the Tony Awards remain a bright spark

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Hamilton takes home the big awards, breaking all records for actors of colour

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

It feels like something approaching irony that, on the day of the deadliest mass shooting in US history, the Tony Awards took place. On the day that Orlando's queer community were targeted and murdered in cold blood, the Tony Awards were on. The Tony Awards, the glittering award ceremony that gets barely a quarter of the coverage that the Oscars enjoys, that is so much more than the sum of its parts. In much the same way that Broadway is more than a district in New York, the Tony awards were more than a prize ceremony last night. It was a community of America's finest entertainers saying: we are still here. We are different, and we are talented, and we are still here. 

Opening and hosting the show was James Corden, a man who has been openly, nervously sweating out the run-up to the awards show. “Your tragedy is our tragedy," he begins. "Theatre is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved. Hate will never win.” 

Hate didn't win. Hamilton, however, did. Winning eleven Tony Awards with multiple actors from the show nominated in the same category, Hamilton was to the Tonys what Lord of the Rings was to every single awards year during the noughties. If there was any fatigue on the night however, it didn't show: the room erupted with applause with the appearance of each Hamilton star. True to form, Lin Manuel Miranda gave a moving acceptance speech through a sonnet, dedicated to his wife, his son and the survivors of the day's attacks. 

"My wife is the reason anything gets done, she nudges me toward promise by degrees. She is a perfect symphony of one, our son, her most beautiful reprise."

The night was historic for many reasons, and as Corden quipped "the Tony Awards are so diverse, Donald Trump wants to build a wall just around this theatre." There were a record number of wins for performers of colour, with The Color Purple's Cynthia Erivo winning for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, as well as Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jnr and Renée Elise Goldsberry winning for Hamilton. 

Frank Langella, accepting his award for Lead Actor in a Play, used his time to speak about the tragedy. "When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us. Today in Orlando we had a hideous dose of reality. And I urge you, Orlando, to be strong. Because I am standing in a room full with some of the most generous human beings on earth, and we will be with you every step of the way."


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Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
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