72nd Tony Awards celebrated diversity and personal expression


Last night’s 72nd Tony Awards were more than just a celebration of winners. Diversity, personal expression and yes, even the losers, were all part of the fun.

As the 72nd Tony Awards opened with hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles’ first number, it was a reminder that the majority of people in the audience will be lucky losers. Of course, the age-old statement, it’s just an honor to be nominated may be true. In this year’s American Theater Wing celebration, only a few shows dominated the winners’ category.

The opening number was a theater geek’s favorite part. Even the non-theater geek received a great education on some theater history. For example, many of today’s favorite and long-running shows didn’t win a Tony for Best Musical. Wicked, Aladdin and many more never won the Best Musical Tony yet play to sold out audiences every night.

This year’s Tony Awards saw The Band’s Visit walk away with the majority of musical awards. Angels in America and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two were the big winners in the play categories. Even though 31 million people saw a Broadway show this season, The Band’s Visit may not have had the name recognition till last night.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 10: Tony Shalhoub, winner of the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for “The Band’s Visit,” poses in the 72nd Annual Tony Awards Media Room at 3 West Club on June 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

For a show, like The Band’s Visit, a Best Musical award can boost far beyond its Broadway run. Without this type of recognition, this show may not have seen a national tour. Now, the character-driven musical that focuses on moral themes could have more commercial potential. This particular win is great for the theater community as well as hope for more of these character-driven productions.

When the occasional theater goer watches the Tonys, she may not be drawn to the critically praised pieces. High production musicals, like SpongeBob and Frozen, have a built-in audience. Don’t get me wrong, SpongeBob is a great musical and deserving of its nominations, but it doesn’t need a Tony Award to bring in an audience. The huge production, catchy score and well-known characters already do just that. Similar to Wicked, people will go to see SpongeBob regardless of any award.

Overall, the message of the 72nd Tony Awards broadcast was a celebration of the arts. From the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who sang Rent’s “Seasons of Love,” to Andrew Garfield’s acceptance speech for his role in Angels in America, the love and hope in the room was encouraging. Everyone seemed willing to accept others for who they are and what they want to be.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 10: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama students perform onstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

One of the most talked about moments of the evening was Robert De Niro’s f-bomb reference to President Trump. While bleeped from the broadcast, the simplistic, yet powerful statement, seemed to charge the room. Although a direct statement against the President, it was also a statement of support for artistic freedom. Without self-expression, artistic expression and artistic empowerment, the world will be left unfulfilled.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 10: Robert De Niro speaks onstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

While the broadcast was quite entertaining and well-paced, one theater trend was somewhat overlooked. Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Carousel had a huge revival this year. The production was driven by Justin Peck, its choreographer. The resident choreographer of the New York City Ballet brought modern ballet to this beloved musical. Those rousing dance scenes compel audiences to see ballet, not as some stuffy, old performance. Rather, it is powerful, elegant and completely breathtaking. It would have been refreshing to see more of this revitalized theater trend.

Overall, the 72nd Tony Awards was an enjoyable night of television. No one spilled any secrets from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two. The angel of death from Angels in America didn’t have to pull anyone off stage. And, the show ended just about on time.

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Hopefully, the popularity of seeing live theater continues to flourish. Even if you can’t travel to New York City to see a Broadway show, consider a theater production in your area. Just take a look at the hashtag #BroadwayDreaming. Theater has, and always will be, an important part of our culture.