Tonys: Bette Midler’s Speech (Continued), Ben Platt’s Advice and More Things You Didn’t See on TV
by Ashley Lee
Jonathan Groff, James Earl Jones, Cobie Smulders, Glenn Close and Cynthia Nixon shared memorable moments that didn’t make the telecast.
The Hollywood Reporter shares the things you missed.
1. After Hello, Dolly! star Bette Midler delivered a lengthy acceptance speech — during which she told the orchestra, “Shut that crap off!” — she came backstage to continue her gratitudes for her first acting Tony, for Lead Actress in a Musical. She also shared her appreciation for the Broadway community and the acting teachers who’ve helped her, as well as her advice for young performers.
While answering questions from reporters — “Sean Spicer here!” she joked — Midler also shared her thoughts on Trump’s efforts to cut NEA funding. “The arts are a source of revenue for the city and a great source of revenue for the United States, if only they weren’t so narrow-minded and perverse about helping with the NEA and helping the arts out in our world,” she said. “They are dead set on making barbarians out of all of us and all of our children. I don’t want to be a barbarian. I want color and beauty and light in my life, and I think everybody in their heart of hearts does.” And on her way out, she shouted, “Bette Midler for president!”
2. Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt shared a few comforting words for viewers who identify with the hit musical’s titular character. “I would really hope that they know they are not unique in their loneliness and that everybody is in the same spot. … There are people that are going to see the redeeming parts of you, and you’re going to find them,” he told reporters. And for anyone who may take on the lead role in the future, he advised actors to trust the material. “It’s easy to get afraid of the difficult actions that Evan takes and try to overplay the anxiety and the nervousness. If you play the intentions and play beat to beat and really trust the writing, the audience will come to you.”
3. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul told reporters that winning the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen’s score beats nabbing the Oscar for La La Land’s original song earlier this year. “We’re both musical theater majors,” Pasek explained. Paul added, “This is sacred ground to us, and nothing compares to it.”4. When Little Foxes’ star Cynthia Nixon said in her acceptance speech for featured actress in a play, “My love goes out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand around,” she specifically meant to salute those who organized and participated in the Women’s March around the world, among other efforts. “They were astonishing in scope and their creativity and their good humor and their numbers; they were astonishing in the fact that it wasn’t a political organization that was making them happen but a woman with an idea,” she told reporters after her speech.
5. Indecent director Rebecca Taichman lamented to reporters of Donald Trump’s efforts to cut arts funding. “I guess if you actually want to decimate culture, that’s one way to do it. … It’s beleaguered already; to cut it more just feels like such an audacious and ridiculous move, and it says very loudly and clearly, ‘We do not value the making of art.’ Our present regime, that’s exactly what they do, because art creates dialogue and conversation, and that’s dangerous [to them].”
6. Brian d’Arcy James and Jonathan Groff, who have both played King George III in Hamilton, handed out honors during the Tonys Creative Arts Awards, just before the live broadcast. “Good evening, royal subjects,” greeted James, who is currently playing the role on Broadway. Groff, who originated the role on Broadway, added, “We are the kings of the Tony Awards.”
7. James Earl Jones received the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre before the telecast, and thanked his father, his late wife and “the NYPD for assisting us at our backstage doors every night,” a mention which received applause from the attendees.
8. Married actors Cobie Smulders and Taran Killam — who both made their Broadway debut this season in Present Laughter and Hamilton, respectively — were each attending the Tonys for the first time. “It is hot as balls, but we’re having fun and we’re about to get some air conditioning,” Killam told THR, Smulders added, “And some alcohol!”
9. At the Sunday morning rehearsal, Glenn Close presented one of the final awards of the lineup with her beloved white dog Sir Pip onstage alongside her.