Black Actors Win All Four Tony Awards for Performances in Musicals

NEW YORK — “Hamilton,” the hip-hop stage biography of Alexander Hamilton, won the 2016 Tony Award for best new musical, capping an emotional night in which many in the Broadway community rallied to embrace the LGBT community after a shooting at a gay Florida nightclub.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary won 11 Tonys, just short of breaking the 12-Tony record held by “The Producers.”

The cast of "Hamilton" (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

The cast of “Hamilton” (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Broadway’s boast of being more diverse than the Oscars was proved, with black actors winning four awards in the acting categories — a history-making sweep of the musical categories — and whites winning the remaining four for plays.

“Hamilton” went into the night with 16 nominations and, in addition to taking the musical award, won best score, best book, direction, orchestration, choreography and best featured actor and actress statuettes for Renee Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs.

Renee Elise Goldsberry accepts the award for best actress in a musical. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Renee Elise Goldsberry (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

 

Daveed Diggs (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Daveed Diggs (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr, won best actor in a musical and cheered Miranda for “a new vision of what’s possible.” He also thanked his wife, actress Nicolette Robinson and his parents.

Leslie Odom Jr. accepts the award for best actor in a leading role. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Leslie Odom Jr. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

The show earlier won awards for costume and lighting but lost scenic design to “She Loves Me,” meaning “Hamilton” couldn’t break the record haul by “The Producers.” Still, few shows get introduced by a sitting president, as Barack and Michelle Obama did for the performance by the show’s cast.

The awards show unspooled with a heavy heart a night after a gunman killed 50 people at a gay Florida nightclub, prompting a Broadway tribute to the victims at the top of the show and a smattering of references to tolerance throughout it.

But for much of the telecast, the mood was light and typical of an awards show.

Miranda, the star and creator of “Hamilton,” won for best score and book, and during one of his trips to the stage, he read from a sonnet, referencing tragedy and urging “love and love and love….”

Thomas Kail won the Tony for directing “Hamilton.” He thanked Miranda, a frequent collaborator, and celebrated the diversity of Broadway this season. “Let’s continue to tell stories,” he said.

British actress Cynthia Erivo won the best actress award for her Broadway debut in “The Color Purple.” She thanked her cast for “making me a stronger woman on that stage.” Her show, which failed to beat “Jersey Boys” for the best musical Tony Award in 2006, won the best musical revival award in 2016.

Cynthia Erivo accepts the award for best actress in a leading role in a musical. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Cynthia Erivo accepts the award for best actress in a leading role in a musical. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

In response to the shooting Sunday that left at least 50 people dead in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida, “Hamilton” dropped its use of muskets in its performance. Many stars also wore a silver ribbon to show solidarity.

The show opened with the cast of “Hamilton” performing their opening number with the lyrics altered to have them all wondering why Corden — “chatting with Hollywood phonies” — had earned the honor of hosting the show.

“Hamilton” and the 38 new productions this season helped Broadway’s attendance figures hit a record high, up 1.6 percent to 13.3 million ticket buyers. The season also was rich in diversity among actors: Fourteen of the 40 Tony nominees for acting in plays and musicals — or 35 percent — were actors of color.

The best musical Tony caps a stunning year for “Hamilton” that includes Miranda winning the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Grammy, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.

See a select list of winners below.

  • Best Musical: “Hamilton.”
  • Best Play: “The Humans” by Stephan Karan.
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: “Hamilton” with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Best Revival of a Play: “Arthur Miller’s a View from the Bridge.”
  • Best Revival of a Musical: “The Color Purple.”
  • 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 Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Renee Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton.”
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Daveed Diggs, “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.”

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(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press and WPGC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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