Although Hamilton had been nominated for 16 awards in 13 categories, it failed to break the record of Mel Brooks’ The Producers which remains the all-time winner with a total of 12. Hamilton took all of the top musical awards including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail, previously nominated for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights) except for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical which went to British actress Cynthia Erivo. (Making her Broadway debut, Erivo was reprising her role as Celie Harris in The Color Purple from the 2013 Menier Chocolate Factory production re-envisioned by John Doyle.) Star Miranda won his second and third Tonys with his awards for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater and Best Book of a Musical. He previously won for Best Score with his 2008 Broadway musical, In the Heights.
As an actor, he lost out on the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical to Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Aaron Burr, the jealous narrator and rival to Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton. Competing against Hamilton’s other co-stars Jonathan Groff and Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs won Best Performance by An Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his Broadway debut in the double role of both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, demonstrating remarkable versatility. Up against predicted winner Jane Krakowski in She Loves Me, Renée Elise Goldsberry won Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for her Angelica Schyler, Hamilton’s remarkable sister-in-law.
Hamilton also won for long-time Miranda associates also nominated for their work on In the Heights: Best Choreographer (Andy Blankenbuehler), Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire, who previously won for the 2008 musical), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Paul Tazewell), and Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howard Binkley). The only design category it lost was Best Scenic Design of a Musical which went to David Rockwell for his luscious candy-box setting for She Loves Me, its only award.
Stephen Karam’s critically acclaimed The Humans, the Roundabout Theatre Company production which transferred directly from Off Broadway in January, won four awards. In addition to the Best Play accolade, it won acting awards for featured performers Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell and Best Scenic Design of a Play for David Zinn. Both of these veteran actors were receiving Tonys for the first time, though they had each been nominated once before in the same category. Although much of The Humans’ power comes from its lighting, the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Play went to Natasha Katz for the Roundabout revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night. It would most likely have won for Best Sound Design in a Play but for the first time the Tony Awards had dropped this category this year.
In the dramatic acting categories, the two winners had previously won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award for their critically acclaimed performances. Frank Langella won his fourth Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his Alzheimer’s victim André in Florian Zeller’s Parisian hit, The Father. Ironically, Langella won the 1996 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play for the title role in Strindberg’s play of the same name. Two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange who had never been nominated for a Tony before went home with the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her sensitive Mary Tyrone in Long’s Day’s Journey Into Night. Aside from winning for Best Revival of a Play, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge was awarded Best Direction of a Play for avant-garde Belgian director Ivo Van Hove’s innovative staging.
Danai Girara’s acclaimed play, Eclipsed, nominated in six categories went home with only one, Best Costume Design of a Play awarded to prolific Clint Ramos. The evening’s biggest loser was Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed which was cut down by the Hamilton juggernaut and went home without a single award. She Loves Me which won four Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Revival of a Musical went home with only the one award for scenic design. Danny Burstein, the Tevye in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof went home the most disappointed nominee as this makes the sixth time he has lost the acting award. However, as consolation, he has received both The Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for this performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical.
Biggest surprise of the evening was the announced appearance of Barbara Streisand, returning to the Tonys for the first time in decades, to hand out the award for Best Musical. Unexpected, Lin-Manuel Miranda read an original sonnet on the theme of love over hate for one of two acceptance speeches. Among other memorable moments of the evening were James Corden’s eagerly awaited Carpool Karaoke which eventually included Miranda, Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Krakowski singing their hearts out in the “One More Day” number from Les Misérables. Other surprises were presenters Meg Ryan, star of You’ve Got Mail, introducing She Loves Me (based on the same material) and Kerri Russell, star of the film version of Waitress, introducing the musical number from the show of the same name. Musical stars and composer/lyricists Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (Bright Star), Sara Bareilles (Waitress) and Gloria Estefan (introduced by her husband Emilio who introduced On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan) joined the companies of their shows in the musical numbers presented during the evening.
The 2016 awards ceremony took place at the Beacon Theatre for first time where casts of all of the musicals on Broadway appeared in front of the theater periodically to sing songs from other Tony Award-winning shows as a tribute to the award’s 70th year.
The full list of the winners of the 2016 Antoinette Perry Awards follows:
Best Musical: Hamilton
Best Play: The Humans
Best Revival of a Musical: The Color Purple
Best Revival of a Play: Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Bes Book of a Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Best Original Score (Music and/or lyrics ) Written for the Theatre): Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Frank Langella, The Father
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey into Night
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Reed Birney, The Humans
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Best Scenic Design of a Play: David Zinn, The Humans
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Best Costume Design of a Play: Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Paul Tazewell, Hamilton
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey into Night
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Howard Binkley, Hamilton
Best Direction of a Play: Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Best Direction of a Musical: Thomas Kail, Hamilton
Best Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Best Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Marshall W. Mason
Special Tony Award
National Endowment for the Arts
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn, New Jersey
Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Sally Ann Parsons