Highlights from the HamilTonys

Last night, Hamilton: An American Musical went in with a record-breaking 16 nominations and by the end of the show, it left with 11, just short of tying The Producers’ record of 12 in 2001. But you know what, it doesn’t even matter. The fact that this groundbreaking, impactful, diverse show has done this well at all should be an accomplishment enough. It’s obvious we’re big fans of Hamilton here (see: #HamilWeek), but we’re also big fans of theatre in general, so if you happened to miss any of the show last night, here are some of the best moments you didn’t see, and some you’ll want to relive over and over again.

The Entire Opening Number

Let’s be real, half the people tuning into the Tonys this year don’t even usually know they’re happening. For theater nerds like us, the Tonys have always been our version of the Super Bowl. But I’m willing to bet for all these n00bs who watched the Tonys last night, it was all about Hamilton. So naturally, the producers pandered to their audience and gave them a whole lotta Hamilton, including the very first bit, which was a parody of Hamilton’s opening number, Alexander Hamilton. Except the lyrics were changed to fit host James Corden. After that, James launched into a medley of musicals that made me think he was gunning for some kind of Guinness World Record. The whole idea of the number was reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris’ sentiments in his opening number a few years ago (starting around 5:44, makes me cry every time), but the feeling still rings true – the Tonys are a chance for those young kids in the middle of nowhere to know that their “weird” obsession with theater and musicals isn’t just them. The end features mini-mes of all the leading musical actors and actresses and that’s what really got me. Surprise, I cried.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Playing Tambourine in an All-Star Jam Band

In homage to #Ham4Ham, casts of nominated shows stood under the Beacon Theater marquee and paid tribute to iconic shows of the past. Kicking it off were the nominees for Best Score, what winner Lin-Manuel Miranda called a “jam band”, featuring himself, Sara Bareilles, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew Lloyd Webber on tambourine. TAMBOURINE.

Audra McDonald, Queen of Tonys, Slays With Child

Even though she wasn’t nominated, six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald managed to still make headlines because she did this tap number pregnant. She’s 45. I want to be her when I grow up.

Cynthia Erivo & The Cast of The Color Purple

Listen, I can only spread the gospel of Cynthia Erivo so much (#WomanCrushWednesday and all), and her performance of I’m Here is, yet again, pick your jaw up off the floor flawless. Add in the rest of the cast of the Tony-winning The Color Purple – including newest addition Heather Headley – and you’re gonna need a few moments to gather yourself after your wig gets snatched.

Spring Awakening Takes Center Stage

The revival of Spring Awakening, which featured both deaf and hearing cast members, has been closed for three months. It was nominated for both Best Revival of a Musical and Best Director for Michael Arden (not Chris Fitzgerald), but in order to perform at the Tonys, you need to shell out literal thousands of dollars. Since the show isn’t open, Michael and the cast launched a crowdfunding campaign to get them to the Tonys and it worked! We got to see this inspiring new rendition of Spring Awakening and it was worth every penny. Thank God this show is going on the road.

Netflix Marketing Strikes Again

In the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus talks about auditioning (and ultimately losing) a role in Hamilton. Because Netflix folks are essentially marketing geniuses, they created an ad specifically featuring Titus in what looks like his legit audition tape trying out for Hamilton. This commercial was played during the Tonys. Amazing.

This Pre-Show Huddle

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Behind-the-scene pep talk at #TonyAwards

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One of my favorite things about the Tonys and Broadway in general is that there’s a real camaraderie between actors and genuine love within the community. Everyone seems to be supporting others in a way you’d think is odd in Hollywood. Prior to the show, members of Hamilton, On Your Feet!, Shuffle Along and more gathered for a pre-show pep talk/prayer circle because they’re all on the same team, striving to do their best on stage. You won’t see Oscar nominees doing this backstage.

Commercial Karaoke

 

 

I think it was Audra who told James Corden that the best advice she could give him is just to keep everyone in the audience entertained throughout the night. It’s a long show, so make sure the crowd enjoys it. It seems he took this to heart because during commercials, he instated Commercial Karaoke and recruited stars to sing the great hits – including Sean Hayes and Jake Gyllenhaal singing Aladdin. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Jessie Mueller Goodbye

Also Sara Bareilles rolling out on the Tonys stage with her piano knowing full well she’s about to wreck us all.

The Fashion

Usually our post-awards show post is a Best/Worst Dressed situation, so to fulfill that quota, here are some of my faves from last night, starting with the absolutely gorgeous Laura Benanti in Oscar de la Renta and stunning Nicolette Robinson (Mrs. Leslie Odom Jr.) in a flowing Christian Siriano gown. Of course our patron saint Lupita Nyong’o didn’t disappoint, while Sara Bareilles, Jane Krakowski and Adrienne Warren all did their thang too.

*I took a page out of the Tony producers’ handbook and saved the HamilTonys for last suckasss

Kings & Queens of Social Media

Unlike major Broadway phenomenons with fervent fan bases of the past (A Chorus Line, Rent, etc.) Hamilton came in an era where social media reigns and fans from all over the world can send one simple tweet to Lin and he’ll respond in Internet-language like he’s your BFF. The cast members of Hamilton kill it when it comes to social media, and on Tonys day, they did not disappoint. From my fave Andrew Chappelle taking over the official Hamilton Snapchat to Seth Stewart sharing backstage videos to the MOST turnt Broadway warmup ever, to my boo Oak posting videos of the boys dancing (just look at his whole feed from Sunday it’s worth it). This is how you werk social media, y’all. I freaking love this cast.

RENEE

I attempted to count how many times I cried during the Tonys, and I stopped because I was already at an obscene amount prior to the show started (thanks to seeing rehearsal vid of the HamilCast’s Rent bumper). I def stopped the cry count because I was sobbing SOBBING during Renee’s speech.

LIN

A) His fistbump/fireworks explosion with Vanessa. Definition of #CoupleGoals. B) Lin casually writing a sonnet like it’s easy. Literal genius. C) EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SONNET.

What Kind of Day Has It Been

Lin has long said The West Wing is one of his favorite shows and thus a big influence on Hamilton (“looking for a mind at work” in The Schuyler Sisters is straight from TWW), so it’s not really a surprise that he snuck this sly move in. The signal was used in S1E22, What Kind of Day Has It Been and basically alerted President Bartlet of good news. Good news indeed.

History Is Happening In Manhattan

For the first time in Tony history, all four musical acting awards went to people of color – Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Daveed Diggs and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Hey Oscars (and everyone else still sleeping) – stay woke.

Look Around, Look Around

Everyone who won for Ham had a great speech, but the best way to end the show was with a performance with the whole cast (because, pandering but also, history). It was the most joyous number because everyone was dressed in their formal gear and not in revolutionary costumes. For once it was the actors having fun and reveling in their 11 wins. I mean what other show has actors that dab on the stage after winning all those Tonys?

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Tony Nominations To Celebrate That Aren’t Hamilton

We established a while ago that we’re basically a Hamilton blog now (seriously, check out all our posts here), so we could easily make another post gushing over its historic 16 Tony Award nominations, or how Lin-Manuel is a precious cinnamon roll of a genius that created a new American institution, or dissecting every bit of this video of Daveed Diggs getting woken up this morning with news of his nomination. We could go on.

No, friends, we’re not going to do that (today). Today is all about the other shows nominated that deserve just as much attention as Hamilton. I imagine it’s bittersweet being on Broadway at the same time as a groundbreaking musical. Everyone wants a ticket to Hamilton and it’s all anyone talks about, but there are nearly 40 other shows open right now. Any one of those productions would love to see you in the audience. But it’s like when you’re up against an MVP player and you have to step up your game just to keep up. It might be a little frustrating along the way, but for the sport (Broadway) as a whole, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened.

But at the end of the day, theatre is not a competition. If anything, it’s a community. A smaller-than-you-think community of artists who support each other and cheer each other on instead of tearing each other down. It’s been an incredible year for theater in terms of the storytelling, quality production and the talent on stage, so in that spirit, we’re putting the spotlight on a few of the other shows we’re rooting for come Tony day, and the names you’ll need to know when they end up winning.

Waitress

Best Musical

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name starring Keri Russell, Waitress centers on Jenna, a waitress at a small-town diner who’s in a horrible marriage, but ends up preggo. Other affairs ensue. Waitress also made history with its all-female creative team, thanks to music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Lorin Latarro.

I had the chance of seeing Waitress in Boston last year before it transferred to Broadway, and hearing all the positive reviews of the show didn’t do it justice in person. I laughed, I cried (way more than I expected), I left feeling like a warm blanket had swaddled itself around my heart… is that weird? This is the only show I’ve seen out of this year’s batch of nominees, and TBH, it sucks it’s up against Hamilton this year because it deserves so much recognition for making a musical out of a movie – and feeling like the movie never existed at all.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

I can’t express to you how good this score is, and what a masterpiece Sara Bareilles has created. I can, however, direct you to her album, What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress, which features a few select numbers from the show. This was released after the Boston run and before they opened on Broadway, and so Sara’s version includes songs cut from the final show, including one of my faves, Door Number Three. This album is still in my rotation six months after its release. Sara uses that same talent she has to tug on your heartstrings with songs like Gravity and I Choose You and incorporates that same spirit in these songs. The official Broadway cast album comes out June 10th. Mark your calendars.

Jessie Mueller (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Jessie Mueller, Tony winner and ethereal goddess, was the clear star of the Boston production, and she’s still the clear star in the Broadway one as well. Here she is singing the most emotional number from the show, so get a tissue ready JIC.

Other nominations: Christopher Fitzgerald (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Eclipsed

Best Play

Written by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, Eclipsed is set in 2003, near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War and tells the story of five Liberian woman and their survival against all odds. In another record for the Broadway history books, Eclipsed is the first play with not only an all-female creative team, but all-female and all-black cast as well.

Lupita Nyong’o (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play)

Listen, if you need to be educated on Queen Lupita, read this then go off on the Internet or watch her movies then come back. She is royalty. Royalty who is a step closer to an EGOT.

Other nominations: Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play), Best Costume Design of a Play, Liesl Tommy (Best Direction of a Play)

Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Musical

Shuffle Along: A revue-style 1921 musical written, produced by and starring an all-black team. Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed: A new musical telling the story of all the challenges the Shuffle Along cast had in mounting the production, and its effect on race relations and Broadway. Stars little-known actors Tony winners such as Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter and newcomers Tony nominees Joshua Henry, Brooks Ashmanskas, Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren.

Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Shuffle Along is only Adrienne’s second Broadway show, but on Tuesday she earned her first Tony nomination. She’s one of those young actresses you know has a bright future on Broadway and beyond. And if you’re wondering why she might look familiar, she was in an episode of Orange is the New Black as a wheelchair-bound inmate who Pennsatucky attempted to “heal”. *I saw her in Lin-Manuel’s Bring It On musical and she was just as fantastic IRL.

Best Choreography

Tap dancing and Savion Glover. That is all.

Other nominations: Best Book of a Musical, Brandon Victor Dixon (Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical), Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

She Loves Me

Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Chuck is nominated for a Tony! Fun fact: Zachary replaced Ted Mosby who was originally supposed to star in the role of Georg, a perfume shop employee who is constantly at odds with co-worker Amalia. Unbeknownst to them, they’ve been secret pen pals the whole time. Sound familiar? It’s adapted from the play Parfumerie, which You’ve Got Mail (yes, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) is adapted from.

Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Cannot stress this enough: we love Laura Benanti. Love. Her.

Jane Krakowski (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Here’s hoping Jane channels Jenna Maroney if she wins.

Other nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

The Color Purple

Best Revival of a Musical

I mean, you know what The Color Purple is, right? It’s the same plot as the book. And the movie. And the OG Broadway musical.

Cynthia Erivo (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

If you don’t have goosebumps and/or tears in your eyes after watching that, check your pulse, because you’re probably dead. Cause of death: Cynthia Erivo. Look out for this one, y’all.

Danielle Brooks (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

I don’t know what it is about Danielle Brooks but I cry anytime I think about her success. Or hear her sing. Or read an inspirational post on her Instagram. I’m so proud of her and I don’t even know her.

Other nominations: Best Direction of a Musical

Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Musical

I admit I was a little surprised to hear Spring Awakening, featuring teens in late 19th-century Germany dealing with their sexuality, was being revived since it only closed on Broadway in 2009. But then I was totally game once I found out they were incorporating sign language and completely making the production its own. Fact: I saw the OG Spring Awakening U.S. tour thrice when it was in Boston for like, a minute. Another fact: I was a dumbass and didn’t see the revival in Los Angeles before it went up on Broadway, and am kicking myself for it. There’s supposedly another tour in talks. See ya there.

Michael Arden (Best Direction of a Musical)

Before Michael Arden earned his first Tony nomination as a director, he was known as an actor. I personally knew his name from the Off-Broadway musical Bare, but more so for this song, Run Away With Me. I don’t know how nerdy you and your friends were circa 2008, but there was a period of time when this Kerrigan & Lowdermilk song was THE JAM, and all the hot, young, theatre boys were doing their covers of it. Aaron Tveit, Jeremy Jordan, bright young high schoolers hoping for a shot of fame all uploaded their own versions of the song on the YouTube. Michael had one of my favorite takes on it, and this has nothing to do with Spring Awakening, I just want you to know he’s really talented.

Other nominations: Best Lighting Design of a Musical