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Monday, June 13, 2016

The HamilTONY Awards with the fabulous James Corden

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that Broadway's blockbuster musical, Hamilton, was the star of last night's 70th Annual Tony Awards as it deservedly received 11 awards (but was unable to beat The Producers' 2001 record of 12 awards). As for first-time host James Corden, he shined brightly himself throughout the telecast with his engaging sense of humor. Broadway has had some fabulous cheerleaders over the years - Rosie O'Donnell, Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris - and now these pom-poms have been passed on to a worthy new friend of NYC's theater community.

Below are my highlights and lowlights of the Tony Awards (the pink categories are the ones I correctly chose to win):

Best Opening Remarks: Corden opened the show by paying tribute to the victims of yesterday's tragic Orlando shooting. Hate will never win.

Best Opening Numbers/Monologue: From being described as "that chubby dude from Into the Woods" to telling the Hamilton actors to "Just you wait!" for their Tonys, Corden's opening numbers/monologue was a hoot. I especially enjoyed his snarky comment that the audience was "so diverse that Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theater."

Best New Feature of the Tonys: I enjoyed the very brief performances outside the Beacon Theatre featuring cast members of shows singing songs from other Broadway musicals - Shuffle Along did Guys and Dolls, She Loves Me did Cabaret, Hamilton did Rent, etc. My only complaint is that they were too short, but it was still a nice segue to a commercial break.

Best Acceptance Speech Honorable Mention: Hamilton's Renée Elise Goldsberry, who won for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (I've liked her ever since she was a back-up singer on Ally McBeal).

Best Acceptance Speech Runner-Up: Hamilton's Daveed Diggs, who won for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, told a touching story about his supportive parents.

Best Acceptance Speech: Frank Langella, who won for Best Leading Actor in a Play for The Father.

Most Embarrassing Comedy Bit: Corden showed a video of Josh Groban performing in his high school production of Fiddler on the Roof before the singer came out to introduce Fiddler's performance.

Best Comedy Bit Honorable Mention: Both were amusing, but I thought Glenn Close's appearance as Hillary Clinton in A Clinton Line was more clever than Andrew Rannells' Donald Trump in The Book of Moron.

Best Comedy Bit Runner-Up: Corden reminded us where some Tony presenters and nominees came from - NBC's Law & Order, of course - and Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof) played six different roles on the long-running show.

Best Comedy Bit: I rarely describe anything as "awesome", but it's how I feel about Corden's Carpool Karaoke from The Late Late Show featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski (below is the complete segment).

Most Unexpected Appearance: Meg Ryan, who introduced the performance of She Loves Me (her 1998 film, You've Got Mail, is based on the same 1937 play as the musical).

Most Limber: 47-year-old Jane Krakowski, who did the splits during her She Loves Me performance.

Best Original Score: Hamilton

Best Direction of a Play: Ivo van Hove for A View from the Bridge

Best Featured Actress in a Play: Jayne Houdyshell in The Humans

Best Featured Actor in a Play: Reed Birney in The Humans

Best Leading Actress in a Play: Jessica Lange in Long Day's Journey into Night

Still Looking Fabulous: 90-year-old Angela Lansbury and 83-year-old Chita Rivera

Thanks for Making Me Feel Old: Has it really been 20 years since the revival of Chicago opened? But it was great to hear Bebe Neuwirth sing again.

Hottest Hunk of the Night: Jake Gyllenhaal

Hottest Hunk Runners-Up: Aaron Tveit and Thomas Kail (who won the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for Hamilton)

Best Musical Number Honorable Mention: A tie between Spring Awakening and Shuffle Along.

Best Musical Number Runner-Up: Bright Star (it's nice to see Carmen Cusack in a show much more worthy of her talents than the disappointing 2015 Chicago production of First Wives Club).

Best Musical Numbers: Hamilton - especially "The Schuyler Sisters", which was performed at the end of the telecast as the credits rolled.

Least Favorite Musical Number: Sorry, Andrew Lloyd Webber, but I didn't care much for School of Rock.

Categories Unworthy for Television (but you can watch all of their acceptance speeches here)

Best Book of a Musical (Hamilton)
Best Choreography (Hamilton)
Best Orchestrations (Hamilton)
Best Costume Design of a Musical (Hamilton)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Eclipsed)
Best Scenic Design of a Musical (She Loves Me)
Best Scenic Design of a Play (The Humans)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Hamilton)
Best Lighting Design of a Play (Long Day's Journey into Night)
The Isabelle Stevenson Award (Brian Stokes Mitchell)
The Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (Sheldon Harnick and Marshall W. Mason)
Special Tony Awards (National Endowment for the Arts and Miles Wilkin)
The Regional Theatre Award (Paper Mill Playhouse)

Best Revival of a Play: A View from the Bridge

Best Play: The Humans

Best Revival of a Musical: The Color Purple

Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton

Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple

Most Appropriate Attire: Is Barbra Streisand replacing Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton? She certainly has the outfit.

Best Musical: Hamilton

Best Ratings: The telecast had its highest ratings in 15 years - 8.73 million viewers (a 35% increase over 2015).

And that's all, folks. I loved this year's Tony Awards - and I am giving an A+ to the telecast and its groovy host (bring him back next year).

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