The Best (and Worst) of the 2017 Tony Awards

The New York Times
The Best (and Worst) of the 2017 Tony Awards

Best Shout-Out to the Playwright Who Got You a Tony


Cynthia Nixon won best featured actress in a play for her performance in “The Little Foxes.”CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Accepting her award for “The Little Foxes,” Cynthia Nixon struck one of the night’s more political notes in an otherwise apolitical night of speechmaking.

“It is a privilege to appear in Lillian Hellman’s eerily prescient play, at this specific moment in history,” she said. “Eighty years ago, she 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, my gratitude and my undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it.”


David Hyde Pierce performed a song from “Hello, Dolly! CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Worst Next-Best Thing

Bette Midler, perhaps the biggest star on Broadway this past season, didn’t perform a number from “Hello, Dolly!” after the show’s producers and the producers of the awards show reached an impasse. Instead, David Hyde Pierce, also a Tony nominee, sang “A Penny in My Pocket,” a solo ditty that was cut from the original Broadway production.

Best Show of Star Power

Ms. Midler got the last laugh: She won the Tony for best leading actress in a musical and managed to quiet the orchestra as it tried to play her off during her delightfully long-winded acceptance speech. Among the people she thanked were the “Hello, Dolly!” lighting designer Natasha Katz: “She makes me look 30 years younger than I am.”


Ben Platt performed a number from “Dear Evan Hansen.” CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Best Advice

“To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.” — Ben Platt of “Dear Evan Hansen” accepting his award for best leading actor in a musical.


Josh Groban led a number from the musical “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Best Reason to Spend Money to Perform on the Tonys

Josh Groban led a massive musical number from “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” that filled the stage and the aisles of Radio City Music Hall with a phalanx of colorfully dressed singers and high-kicking dancers. If the performance won’t sell tickets, nothing will.


From left, the costume designer Jane Greenwood, and a scene from “The Little Foxes” with Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon. CreditPhotographs by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Best Reason to Hang in There

After 21 nominations, the veteran costume designer Jane Greenwood is no longer the Susan Lucci of Broadway. At 83, she won her first competitive Tony, for her costumes in the revival of “The Little Foxes.” (In 2014 she received a special Tony for lifetime achievement.)


Kevin Spacey as Johnny Carson. CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Worst Celebrity Roast Material

Sure Kevin Spacey is good at impressions, but … Johnny Carson? Jack Lemmon?


John Mulaney, left, and Nick Kroll. CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Best Audition for Next Year’s Hosts?

No corduroy. No tuna. But John Mulaney and Nick Kroll brought a welcome spritz of irreverence to the stage, reminding us all over again that “Oh, Hello! On Broadway” was one of the highlights of the season. Forget pie and cannolis; next year Temp Tee cream cheese for everyone!

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