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Daveed Diggs and Sheldon Harnick Earn Tonys, Capping a Fantastic Year on Broadway

‘Hamilton’ took home 11 Tony Awards, signalling what will hopefully be another period of progress and terrific theater on the Great White Way

Gabriela Geselowitz
June 14, 2016
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Daveed Diggs of 'Hamilton' performs onstage during the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre in New York City, June 12, 2016. Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Daveed Diggs of 'Hamilton' performs onstage during the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre in New York City, June 12, 2016. Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

I made it work. Despite the unfortunate occurrence that the Tonys aired on yontif, I was able to watch the show at a friend’s apartment by virtue of the fact that the TV just happened to be tuned into CBS. Well, if it’s on I might as well watch it, right? I thought to myself. Right, I told myself. Right indeed.

Given the holiday, there were only six of us; there was no predictive ballots and subsequent gambling, no live-tweeting or texting other friends and other interested persons, no costume party. And because I had been disconnected from electronics all weekend, the Tonys were how I learned about the Orlando shooting, so it was admittedly an upsetting experience trying to process the devastating news while the School of Rock kids were shredding.

When all was said and done, it was Hamilton‘s night, and there was something satisfying about seeing it fulfill its destiny as a true smash success. And even though it was a subdued Tony-watching experience by my standards, it was not a very subdued year for Broadway, or for an awards night.

For example, did I scream when Daveed Diggs won Best Featured Actor in a Musical (as both the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson), causing my friend to remind me that she has neighbors? Yes. Did Daveed (as usual) wear a suit that, as my friend described it, make him resemble a ’90s Batman villain? Also yes. Did most of my watching party silently groan when he thanked his girlfriend, reminding us that he’s taken? Yes. Was my fiancé very understanding in this moment? Thankfully, yes. My remaining question: Is Diggs the first Jew of Color to win a Tony? He’s not the first to capture a nomination (Sammy Davis Jr. was, if not someone before him), but I can’t identify any other Jews of Color who have snagged the award, for acting or otherwise. Please reach out if you know of anyone. Regardless, mazel tov to Daveed!

(Editor’s note: A reader indicated to us that Sophie Okonedo, a British actress with a Nigerian father and Jewish mother, got a Tony for Featured Actress in a Play in 2014, for Raisin in the Sun)

As scheduled, Sheldon Harnick received his Lifetime Achievement Award during a commercial break, as is Tony policy for awards that they don’t think will bump ratings. It wasn’t surprising, but it was still disappointing. Did the Tony’s really need to cut Harnick’s speech for time in order to air an awkward bit with Andrew Rannells doing a Donald Trump impression? Nope. But they did it anyway, ultimately showing only about five seconds of Harnick even though his acceptance lasted less than a minute and a half! So, let’s give credit where credit’s due by taking 90 seconds to honor a legend as he is rightfully crowned:

(Side note: I find it wild that in the year when all four winners for acting in musicals are black and under 50, all four winners for acting in plays were white and over 60. While it was nice to see older actors get commendations (ageism exists in the theater, too), it’s still good to see some change people!)

While I’m ecstatic for Hamilton—the hip-hop musical about the life and death of America’s sexiest founding father (sorry, Adams) won 11 Tonys in total—the downside of its sweep is that the new and revived musicals only won three awards in sum. That’s right, Hamilton took 11 (!!), The Color Purple scraped together two, and Harnick’s She Loves Me won for Scenic Design of a Musical. Alas, nothing for Fiddler, but its performance was a great showcase of the new choreography.

In terms of plays (hey, did you know the Tonys are also about plays?), A View from the Bridge snagged both best Direction and Revival of a play, so hooray for Arthur Miller! It’s a shame that the evening’s winners were substantially less diverse than for musicals. Step it up, people!

In any case, now that the Tonys are over, I can return to my normal life, which mostly consists of recording my musical theater podcast, gently stroking a framed photo of Stephen Sondheim, and obsessively following theater news. This and last season were great, and I hope Broadway’s stride continues.

And as for this upcoming season? Well, Shavuot falls in the middle of the week next year, and since the Tonys are always on a Sunday, I’m safe. Safe, that is, to throw a REAL party, which I can only guess now will be Falsettos-themed in honor of the upcoming revival. Work.

Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of