New York City

71st Annual Tony Awards celebrate Broadway’s best & brightest

June 13, 2017 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The “Dear Evan Hansen” creative team and cast. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Winners of the 2017 Tony Awards — celebrating the best of Broadway musical, comedy and drama — braved near triple digit temperatures traveling from the awards venue at Radio City Music Hall to the venerable Lambs Theater Club several blocks away, which served as an impromptu winners’ circle and media center, to share their feelings with the press and public.

Reactions varied as first-time winner for lighting design Bradley King kissed his trophy.  “I don’t know what it means,” King told “It’s just overwhelming. When we started this [“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”] five years ago, none of us thought we’d ever be here!”

At the other end of the spectrum, veteran Broadway star Bette Midler, awarded best actress in a musical for the revival of “Hello, Dolly!” marched confidently across the red carpet, eschewing directions from the show publicists, moving with poise and precision well in advance of paparazzi requests.

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“It’s a little scary to get on those steps and hope you don’t trip,” Cynthia Nixon, winner of the Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Lillian Hellman’s Little Foxes”, told Playbill’s Olivia Clement.

“Surreal,” declared Michael Aronov, the winner of the Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for “Oslo,” moments later. “I mean, my dad kissed my hand.”

“Not a word!” “Dear Evan Hansen” songwriter Benj Pasek insisted before cutting loose with howls of sheer delight as his writing partner Justin Paul looked on and laughed.

Another “Dear Evan Hansen” winner, actress Rachel Bay Jones, also a first-timer, could scarcely contain her joy, giggling delightedly as cameras flashed in her direction.

Hitting a more serious note on a night that was relatively apolitical, “Indecent” director Rebecca Taichman spoke out against cutting NEA funds: “If you want to decimate culture,” she told Variety while clutching her trophy, “and dialogue and empathy and community, then that [cutting arts funding] would be the way to do it!”

With nine nominations totaling six Tony Awards, “Dear Evan Hansen” was the night’s favorite. Originally produced off-Broadway, the musical, with songs co-written by winners Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, follows the travails of its shy, disaffected eponymous main character Evan Hansen (played by first-time Tony winner Ben Platt), after a misunderstanding about the circumstances of an acquaintance’s suicide propels him into the risky dimension of instant social media celebrity.

Other big winners of the evening were “Hello, Dolly!” with four awards, including the Award for Best Revival of a Musical and the Award for Best Actress, Bette Midler; “Oslo,” a dramatic rendition of the famed Oslo Accords; and a revival of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes.”


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