Tony Awards 2017: “Dear Evan Hansen” wins big
By ANDREA PARK CBS NEWS
June 11, 2017
Kevin Spacey opened the 2017 Tony Awards wearing a striped polo shirt and a cast on his arm that said “#HOST,” looking like an overgrown Evan Hansen.
“I know they love James Corden, but I will show I came to play,” he sang. “Because if I sing this song they’ll understand maybe I can host, I can host with the band.”
Spacey was put to bed on set and woke to an alarm, a reference to “Groundhog Day,” and asked, “Think I can’t get the ratings?”
A groundhog emerged from the same bed, and when the groundhog took off his head it was none other than Stephen Colbert.
“Just read the prompter,” sang Colbert. “Hey, even Steve Harvey would be OK. You’re no dope. Never give up hope. Never let yourself be defeated.”
Spacey woke up again in the bed on set with an announcement that it was Tony Awards day. Then the host put on a big bushy beard and an embroidered vest, complete with an accordion, looking like he came off the set of “The Great Comet.”
“There’s a mentor I need to make me into Fred Astaire and Ricky Gervais, he isn’t here,” he sang, holding his accordion.
Whoopi Goldberg emerged from the set’s closet to give Spacey some advice.
“If you want to learn, you got to go where some of the greatest hosts of all times have gotten their start: Carson, Letterman. You gotta go to the Rock” — a reference to Rockefeller Center.
Performers from “Come From Away” ascended the stage to sing “Welcome to the Rock.”
Billy Crystal gave advice from a remote location and said, “Kevin, if all else fails, put on a dress,” referring to “Sunset Boulevard.”
Spacey dressed as Norma Desmond and sang, “I’m coming out — no, wait, no,” before he started again.
Later, he and an ensemble of performers tapped onstage and Spacey sang that he was Broadway-bound before announcing that it was the 71st Tony Awards and “your host is found.”
Scarlett Johansson presented the first award, best featured actor in a play, which went to Michael Aronov for his performance in “Oslo,” his first Tony nomination and win for his portrayal of Uri Savir.
Former New York Ranger Ron Duguay took the stage to announce a performance by the first nominee for best musical, “Come From Away,” and said he felt a special connection to the show because it is Canadian, like he is.
He talked about how the characters in the show who welcomed the passengers of planes that unexpectedly landed in the Canadian town wake of the September 11 attacks.
“It wasn’t perfect but they got it done with their hearts,” said Duguay. “They took these people in. Made them feel comfortable. People from all over the world.”
Jane Gerenwood won best costume design of a play for “Little Foxes,” and Santo Loquasto won best costume design of a musical for “Hello, Dolly!”
“NCIS: New Orleans” star Scott Bakula and “Younger” star and Tony winner Sutton Foster took the stage to present best featured actor in a musical, which went to Gavin Creel for “Hello, Dolly!” It was his first Tony win and third nomination.
“I want to dedicate this to the musical theater department at the University of Michigan School of music theater and dance,” said Creel. “My education there as a young person changed my life forever … If you’re out there and you have money, start a scholarship, change someone’s life.”
Jon Jon Briones and Lea Salonga announced a performance by the company of “Miss Saigon.” The company sang “This Is The Hour” with soldiers singing over the dead body of the character Thuy. The performance then transitioned into the song “I’d Give My Life For You.”
Spacey introduced Paula Vogel onto the stage, who talked about the plot of her play “Indecent,” which recounts the controversy surrounding the play “God of Vengeance.”
Olivia Wilde and Tom Sturridge took the stage to present best performance by a featured actress in a play, which went to Cynthia Nixon in “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” for her role as Regina.
Nixon thanked Hellman especially and made a political statement. She said, “Sixty years ago, [Hellman] wrote, ‘There are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it and other people who just stand around and watch them do it.’ My love, gratitude and undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it.”
Whoopi Goldberg announced a reunion performance by the cast of “Falsettos,” which is no longer on Broadway but set to air on PBS later. Cast members, including Andrew Rannells, Tracie Thoms and Stephanie J. Block, performed “A Day in Falsettoland.”
Best scenic design of a play went to Nigel Hook for “The Play That Goes Wrong,” and Mimi Lien of “The Great Comet” won best scenic design of a musical.
Lifetime achievement in the theatre went to James Earl Jones.
Cynthia Erivo and John Legend presented best score, which went to Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for “Dear Evan Hansen,” their first Tony.
Pasek and Paul were full of energy as they thanked people in a rapid-fire round.
Pasek said, “Ben Platt, Ben Platt, Ben Platt! You have given us the most incredibly journey of a lifetime.”
Anna Kendrick introduced the cast members of “Dear Evan Hansen” onstage, including star Ben Platt, who acted with Kendrick in the “Pitch Perfect” films. Platt and the company sang “Waving From A Window.”
Laurie Metcalf introduced playwright Lucas Hnath “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” who explained the plot of his play.
Sally Field took the stage and talked about the legacy of Stage Women’s War Relief — women of the wing — and how they integrated their canteen before desegregation and how their legacy continues to inspire the American Theatre Wing.
Sarah Paulson and David Oyelowo announced best leading actor in a play, which went to Kevin Kline for “Present Laughter.”
Kline said of his award, “Everybody — I want to thank everybody. We don’t do this alone.”
Kline also said he was grateful for The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Spacey wore a gray wig and did his best Johnny Carson imitation.
“What did my bookie in Vegas tell me to put my money on tonight? The answer is Bette Midler,” he said.
Spacey (as Carson) introduced a performance of “Seeing You” by the cast of “Groundhog Day” and talked about the main character, Phil.
“He is doomed to relive the same day over and over — sort of like my first marriage,” cracked Spacey before the performers began.
Best lighting design for a play went to Christopher Akerlind for “Indecent” and Bradley King won best lighting design for a musical for “The Great Comet.”
Ten-time Tony-winner Tommy Tune introduced a performance by David Hyde Pierce of “Penny in My Pocket” from “Hello, Dolly!”
Then, Pierce’s co-star Bette Midler ascended the stage and said, “I get to see him do that every single night,” before she announced best leading actress in a play.
Laurie Metcalf won her first Tony for “A Doll’s House, Part 2” — her fourth nomination.
Patina Miller and Sara Bareilles took the stage to announce best featured actress in a musical, which went to Rachel Bay Jones for “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Jones thanked her grandmother for giving her the chance to pursue her dreams: “Thank you to my Nana who sold her engagement ring so I could move to New York,” she said.
Nick Kroll and John Mulaney then appeared on stage, partially in character from “Oh Hello.”
“New York City is the greatest city in New York state,” announced Mulaney.
Kroll said the Rockettes had last performed at the Tonys 13 years before announcing them on stage: “A baby boy born during their last performance would be Bar Mitzvahed today!” he said.
The Rockettes danced before slowing down for a verse from “New York, New York” by Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.
Jennifer Ehle introduced J.T. Rogers, playwright of “Oslo,” who talked about his play, which focuses on the Oslo peace accords.
Allison Janney and Christopher Jackson presented best direction of a play, which went to Rebecca Taichman for “Indecent.”
Taichman gave a special shoutout to the playwright and said, “I want to thank from the bottom of my tattered heart, the genius Paula Vogel, for giving me the play of my dreams.”
Janney and Jackson also presented best direction of a musical. The Tony Award went to Christopher Ashley for “Come From Away.”
Ashley said, “[To] the people of Newfoundland and all the first responders and their families in New York and at 9/11; the people who gave their lives and the people who extended their hearts and homes and were generous and kind at the very worst of moments, thank you.”
Uma Thurman announced a performance from “War Paint.”
“Glass ceilings are meant to be shattered,” said Thurman to cheers as she talked about the story behind the play, about the respectful rivalry between Estee Lauder and Helena Rubenstein before she introduced stars Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole onstage.
Best book of a musical went to Steven Levenson for “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Lynn Nottage talked about “Sweat,” her play about working class people in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Josh Gad took the stage to talk about his training in theater at Carnegie Mellon University and announced that he would be playing Pseudolus in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” When everyone clapped, he revealed that he will not be in the musical and instead had used his acting skills to lie on stage. He then talked about the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, a joint venture between the Tonys and Carnegie Mellon University, which went to Rachel Harry of Hood River, Oregon.
Spacey returned to the stage dressed as Bill Clinton and cracked that Hillary Clinton was better at creating fake emails than Evan Hansen.
Orlando Bloom presented best revival of a play, which went to “August Wilson’s Jitney.”
Producer Lynne Meadow accepted the award and gave a special thanks to director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who was also on stage with Meadow and others from the play.
“August Wilson wrote 10 plays … ‘Jitney’ is a shining example of his brilliance and his poetry,” said Meadow.
Keegan Michael Key introduced a performance by the cast of “The Great Comet.” Josh Groban opened the song “Dust and Ashes” before he was joined by the company, who took over the Tony space, high-kicking down the aisles and sitting on Stephen Colbert’s lap.
Andy Blankenbuehler won best choreography for “Bandstand.”
Rachel Bloom, who spent the show bantering backstage while wearing small hats, revealed that she got wait-listed at Carnegie Mellon University, “but I’m not bitter about it,” she said, before introducing the accountants of the show.
Spacey promised the accountants of the Tonys would not make any big flubs before he was interrupted Sara Bareilles who was passing out slices of pie to promote “The Waitress.”
Then a Willy Wonka understudy tried to promote “Charlie and the Chocolate Bar” by passing out candy bars, and Chazz Palminteri of “A Bronx Tale” passed out cannoli.
Spacey chastised the actors before plugging his own show, “Clarence Darrow.”
John Lithgow presented best play, which went to “Oslo.” Producer Andre Bishop accepted the award and said, “There were four nominees for best play and I can tell you every single one of those plays was superb … We are in a golden age of American playwriting” before introducing playwright J.T. Rogers, who gave a shout out to the people of the Oslo courts who “believed in democracy, believed in peace.”
Dr. Jill Biden took the stage and said, “As the daughter of a World War II signal man and the mother of an army captain, I’ve seen how the scars of service can haunt … their stories need to be told,” as she described the plot of “Bandstand,” which follows vets as they cope with returning home to the United States after World War II. Biden then introduced the company of “Bandstand,” who performed “Nobody.”
Jonathan Groff and Brian D’Arcy James presented special Tony Awards, including awards to Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers for “The Encounter” and the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award to Baayork Lee.
Stephen Colbert took the stage to present best revival of a musical and he mentioned one nominee, “Miss Saigon,” as being “the only pageant locker room our president hasn’t walked in on.”
The Tony went to “Hello, Dolly!” and producer Scott Rudin talked about seeing the original on Broadway decades ago and how magical the night was for him. He thanked Bette Midler, who stood just behind him.
Mark Hamill introduced singers who performed the In Memoriam segment in tribute to performers that included Carrie Fisher, George Irving, Garry Marshall, James Houghton, Mary Tyler Moore, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder and more.
Tina Fey presented best leading actor in a musical, which went to Ben Platt for “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Platt immediately broke down onstage before he regained his composure and said that he loved musical theater since he was a child.
“To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be anybody but yourself,” he said “Because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”
Glenn Close presented the Tony for best leading actress in a musical, which went to Bette Midler for “Hello Dolly” — her first for acting. She also won a Special Tony Award in 1974. She called “Hello, Dolly!” “the ride of [her] life.” When Midler got cut off by the music, she said, “Shut that crap off,” and the music ceased as she talked about the legacy of “Hello, Dolly!”
“This thing has the ability to lift your spirits in these terrible, terrible times,” said Midler. She closed off by thanking Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey.
Lin-Manuel Miranda took the stage and said musical lift spirits in the worst of times before he presented best musical.
Spacey, Robin Wright Penn and Michael Kelly crashed the Tony stage in character from “House of Cards” and Spacey said he wanted to hurry up before Bette Midler thanked anyone else. They abruptly left the stage, and Miranda announced that “Dear Evan Hansen” had won the Tony for best musical.
Producer Stacey Mindich and the company of “Dear Evan Hansen” took the stage. Mindich thanked her parents for letting her see “A Chorus Line” 28 times when she was a kid, instilling a love for musical theater from an early age.
Spacey and Patti Lupone closed the show and said goodnight by singing “The Curtain Falls,” flocked by all the winners on stage.