My 2017 Tony Awards Recap

I enjoyed last night’s Tony Awards broadcast muchly.

For one thing, rather than one of those year’s where one show dominates heavily (Hamilton, Chicago, The Producers), for the most part the Tony voters seemed happy to share the wealth among several productions. And I like that. The Tonys are, in great part, a marketing tool to help shows run, and when everyone is acknowledged for excellent work, the entire theater community wins.

All in all, I agreed with just about every winner (I hate using that word) in each category.

Other random thoughts:

• It’s ridiculous that the Choreographer category isn’t presented during the telecast. I won’t qualify artistic contributions among team mates, but the choreographer (the most physically demanding position on a creative team) creates highly complex storytelling without the use of spoken language. The number from Andy Blankenbuehler’s Bandstand was easily a standout among all the numbers featured last night. Also, look at the popularity of dance today across the country (So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars). There’s intense interest in the art form.

For those who didn’t see Andy’s acceptance speech:

Check out Dr. Jill Biden (huge standing ovation) introducing “Nobody” from Bandstand. This is excellent choreography 🙂

• Whether it was Bette Midler demurring or producer Scott Rudin not wanting to “give away the goods,” it was a shame there was no production number from this year’s biggest hit,  Hello, Dolly!

• While I miss seeing excerpts from the nominated plays, I did enjoy seeing the playwrights introduced and being allowed to speak about their shows.

• The In Memoriam was handled with taste and grace. Thank you.

• The two most memorable speeches (vastly different in tone) were:

Ben Platt winning “Best Actor in a Musical” for Dear Evan Hansen – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself. The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

And Bette Midler’s four minute filibuster (“Shut that crap off!”) for “Best Actress in a Musical” for Hello, Dolly!:

• Kevin Spacey did a good job as host. Brilliant? Maybe not, but he was solid and brings aesthetic weight to the stage. I wasn’t a huge fan of the impersonation schtick, but I know there were producers and writers making a lot of those decisions, so… Much is being made about his “in the closet” jokes. On one hand folks seem to be of the opinion he’s basically out to everyone but the masses, so he should be be out; on the other hand, he’s dealt with the rumors for years and if he wants to joke about them, whatever.

Ratings? From

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ratings for this year’s telecast were down 31 percent from last year’s show. According to Nielsen overnight returns, the telecast averaged a 4.7 rating among metered market households, almost tying for the Tony broadcast from five years ago. The numbers appear to be strong enough to top NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, although they may fall short of winning in the Adult 18-49 demo.

In comparison, the 2016 TONY AWARDS reached a 15-year viewership high, averaging a 6.8 rating among households in overnight returns, ultimately delivering 8.7 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.

Click here to see many of the performances and acceptance speeches.

Here’s the full list of the artists who took home awards last night:

Best musical: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best play: “Oslo”

Best revival of a play: “August Wilson’s Jitney”

Best revival of a musical: “Hello, Dolly!”

Best book of a musical: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Levenson

Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Music and lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Tony Awards 2017: Highlights, winners and best moments
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical: Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical: Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play: Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play: Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play: Michael Aronov, “Oslo”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play: Cynthia Nixon, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical: Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical: Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best scenic design of a play: Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Best scenic design of a musical: Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best costume design of a play: Jane Greenwood, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best costume design of a musical: Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best lighting design of a play: Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent”

Best lighting design of a musical: Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best direction of a play: Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent”

Best direction of a musical: Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”

Best choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand”

Best orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen”

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 theater: Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser