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Editors Notes: TONYS 2017 - Conquerors and Casualties

Kevin Spacey Tonys




It was a long night for some, but a memorable night for others.


As predicted and feared some of the losers have already posted closing notices:

Sweat, despite its Pulitzer Prize and Six Degrees of Separation, despite Allison Janney’s presence and now even Indecent despite its many awards.


On the plus side, Bandstand, my favorite, despite only one tony for choreography, has benefitted “bigly” from  Mrs. Jill Biden’s stirring intro evoking the show’s inspiration by World War II veterans (who formed a band)  and an exciting number from the show.


Scott Rudin, the behemoth Hollywood producer with deep pockets and little regard for Broadway customs, flooded the airways and media with ads for A Doll’s House 2. snoring along with nothing but money that opened last – until everyone believed the hype of the media blitz – but not the tony voters, who are notoriously lazy and may not even have made it to the last show, succumbed to the far superior Oslo, whose serious content (secret Arab Israeli peace negotiations)  made Nora look like a dilettante.  But its only awardee, Metcalf, snatched the award away from the favorite Laura Linney, after such a heartwarming story of how she chose Cythia Nixon for the featured role in the play and then generously switched roles with her alternate nights,  a great gesture for them and audiences alike, many of whom returned to see both – only to leave Linney high and dry – shame!.


Rudin also denied the rules by insisting that his army of associates galumph up to the stage when receiving Best Musical Revival for Hello, Dolly, ironically eating into his lead star’s acceptance speech and forcing her into overtime, a disappointment for the many who couldn’t stay up that late and taped the show (and invoked some obscure labor rule preventing this Dolly from performing live at the Tonys, thus depriving all of the award winning performance). Does this elephant in the china shop remind you of anyone?


 It was a great night for Americans and American women in particular;  

Writers Paula Vogel (Indecent) Lynn Nott age (Sweat), directors - Rachel Chavkin -- (Indecent), Mimi Lien set design (Comet) the late Lillian Hellman (Foxes)


Stage vets Midler and Kevin Kline took the awards out of the mouths of new comers: Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon and Denee Benton, Natasha,

Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation


In the tight races Dear Evan Hansen, an early contender, later losing its grip to the feel good more accessible Come From Away – took it all :

Best Musical, Actor, composer, book.

Anyone past graduate school would have much preferred Come From Away which won only 1 award for best director.  But its appeal is so great that its future is secure, and, with minimal sets and costumes, and a timeless story, it will thrive on the road throughout the country, not only in theaters but I am certainly in schools as well.

Groundhog Day, oddly, chose a low energy number, considering it is such a high energy show (despite Andy Karl’s well publicized injury)

My other favorite, A Bronx Tale, had to rely on creator Chazz Palmintieri’s awkward attempt to hawk cannolis after being snubbed by the Tony’s.

Tony Award Nominees Support ACLU, Planned Parenthood With Ribbons


 Full Winner’s list below.

(with editor’s comments italicized)


Best Play:
“Oslo” (WINNER)

“A Doll’s House, Part 2”


Best Musical:
“Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)

(no no no limited appreal for a limited audience, depressing– maybe I’m just too old)
“Come From Away”
“Groundhog Day The Musical”
“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”

Where’s Bandstand, Bronx Tale?


Best Book of a Musical:
“Dear Evan Hansen” — Steven Levenson (WINNER)

See above
“Come From Away” — Irene Sankoff and David Hein
“Groundhog Day The Musical” — Danny Rubin
“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” — Dave Malloy


Best Original Score:
“Dear Evan Hansen” — Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (WINNER)

not a fan of the music, definitely not hummable, but gut wrenching
“Come From Away” — Music & Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein
“Groundhog Day The Musical” — Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin
“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” — Music & Lyrics: Dave Malloy


Best Revival of a Play:
“August Wilson’s Jitney” (WINNER)
“Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”
“Present Laughter”
“Six Degrees of Separation”

(except for Six Degrees all excellent

I wasn’t enthusiastic about seeing Jitney, having seen all of August WIlson’s others – but this one sings!) )


Best Revival of a Musical:
“Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)
“Miss Saigon”

(unfortunate that this great, drama filled  huge production overshadowed, poor timng))


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:
Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter” (WINNER)

would be nice if he weren’t so bored by it all- Jefferson Mays was his usual great in a subtler role
Denis Arndt, “Heisenberg”
Chris Cooper, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
Corey Hawkins, “Six Degrees of Separation”
Jefferson Mays, “Oslo”


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:
Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (WINNER)

No No No – shameless overacting – as usual –how humiliating for Linney not only to invite Cynthia into the play but generously switch roles with her – superb in each – No No No
Cate Blanchett, “The Present”
Jennifer Ehle, “Oslo”
Sally Field, “The Glass Menagerie”
Laura Linney, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”(WINNER)
Christian Borle, “Falsettos”
Josh Groban, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”
Andy Karl, “Groundhog Day The Musical”

poor Andy, had he not blown his leg and was able to perform the physical hi jinks that led to the injury for the voters think he would hae gotten it
David Hyde Pierce, “Hello, Dolly!”


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)

what can one say? She is simply in a higher constellation
Denee Benton, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”
Christine Ebersole, “War Paint”
Patti LuPone, “War Paint”
Eva Noblezada, “Miss Saigon”


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:
Michael Aronov, “Oslo” (WINNER)
Danny DeVito, “Arthur Miller’s The Price”

Danny a crowd favorite  didnt deserve it;  he blew off the Outer Critics Award and was awkward and out of his element at the others
Nathan Lane, “The Front Page”
Richard Thomas, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”
John Douglas Thompson, “August Wilson’s Jitney”


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:
Cynthia Nixon, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” (WINNER)

Agree on sentimnental level but the 2 gals from Sweat worked much much harder
Johanna Day, “Sweat”
Jayne Houdyshell, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
Condola Rashad, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
Michelle Wilson, “Sweat”


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)
Mike Faist, “Dear Evan Hansen”
Andrew Rannells, “Falsettos”
Lucas Steele, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”
Brandon Uranowitz, “Falsettos”


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)
Kate Baldwin, “Hello, Dolly!”
Stephanie J. Block, “Falsettos”
Jenn Colella, “Come From Away”
Mary Beth Peil, “Anastasia”


Best Scenic Design of a Play:
Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong” (WINNER)

(absolutly – see  before it evaporates, hilarious)
David Gallo, “August Wilson’s Jitney”
Douglas W. Schmidt, “The Front Page”
Michael Yeargan, “Oslo”

(is thas a joke? The “set” cinasists of a

Coffee table andchairs and maybe a little desk)


Best Scenic Design of a Musical:
Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” (WINNER)
Rob Howell, “Groundhog Day The Musical”
David Korins, “War Paint”
Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

(Dolly is reknown for its painstakingly old fashioned hand painted sets – which everyone extols – except of course the tony voters who must be under 12)


Best Costume Design of a Play:
Jane Greenwood, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” (WINNER)
Susan Hilferty, “Present Laughter”

(R U Kidding? Maybe 6 costumes lose to an exciting gorgeous array of high fashion in Present Laughter)
Toni-Leslie James, “August Wilson’s Jitney”
David Zinn, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”


Best Costume Design of a Musical:
Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)
Linda Cho, “Anastasia”
Paloma Young, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”
Catherine Zuber, “War Paint”

Dolly’s costumes already designed,

War Paint extraordinary- what an oversight


Best Lighting Design of a Play:
Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent” (WINNER)

Very dark, literally, had to squint
Jane Cox, “August Wilson’s Jitney”
Donald Holder, “Oslo”
Jennifer Tipton, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”


Best Lighting Design of a Musical:
Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” (WINNER)

The show is a mess!
Howell Binkley, “Come From Away”
Natasha Katz, “Hello, Dolly!”
Japhy Weideman, “Dear Evan Hansen”


Best Direction of a Play:
Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent” (WINNER) Yes!
Sam Gold, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “August Wilson’s Jitney”
Bartlett Sher, “Oslo”
Daniel Sullivan, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”


Best Direction of a Musical:
Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away” (WINNER)

Amazing what he did with just some folding chairs and a desk
Rachel Chavkin, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”
Michael Greif, “Dear Evan Hansen”
Matthew Warchus, “Groundhog Day The Musical”
Jerry Zaks, “Hello, Dolly!


Best Choreography:
Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand” (WINNER)

Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, “Groundhog Day The Musical”
Kelly Devine, “Come From Away”
Denis Jones, “Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical”
Sam Pinkleton, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”


Best Orchestrations:
Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)
Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, “Bandstand”
Larry Hochman, “Hello, Dolly!”

(No No No! Dolly had the full orchestra and those scrumptious HUMMABLE songs, Hansen’s were as edgy as the show)
Dave Malloy, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”


Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories


Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award:
Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers for “The Encounter”

Regional Theatre Tony Award:
Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award:
Baayork Lee

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre:
Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser


Life goes on  and the new season is already on its way with the new musical 1984, revised play Marvin’s Room