Tony Awards 2017: Press Room Live Blog

Tony Awards   Tony Awards 2017: Press Room Live Blog
 
Check here for updates from Playbill editors Ryan McPhee and Ruthie Fierberg as they hear from the winners and more in the Tonys press room.
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As Broadway's best take the stage at Radio City Music Hall to accept their awards, Managing News Editor Ryan McPhee and Senior Features Editor Ruthie Fierberg watch from the Tony Awards press room. Check back here for reactions from the winners, breaking news updates, and more throughout the night.

11:55 PM: Thank you for joining us for the 2017 Tony Awards! Keep an eye out for more Tonys coverage from Playbill, including recaps and further commentary.

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Bette Midler Joseph Marzullo/WENN

11:35 PM: Bette Midler enters the press room, shockingly with even more people to thank beyond those she mentioned in her acceptance speech. Among the added names were “the kids,” as Midler refers to the Hello, Dolly! ensemble and her younger co-stars. “I’ve never seen such dedication and such willingness to put themselves through such stress. Because it’s very stressful, the rehearsal process,” she says, “and yet they continue because it’s in their blood and they love it so. I’m the laziest gal in town. When I go on the road I do two shows.“

11:06 PM: Donning a rainbow ribbon, Lin-Manuel Miranda (with help from Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood) presents the award for BEST MUSICAL to Dear Evan Hansen.

11:04 PM: Upon taking the press room stage, Andy Blankenbuehler, reveals he got married in the very same room.

11:00 PM: Bette Midler defies the clock, talking both over and past the orchestra's play-off music as she accepts the award for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL for Hello, Dolly!

10:55 PM: Ben Platt receives a standing ovation upon winning BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL for Dear Evan Hansen. He closes his speech by proclaiming, “The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

10:53 PM: In the press room after winning for BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY, Manhattan Theatre Club Artistic Director Lynne Meadow shares, “[Director] Ruben [Santiago-Hudson] talked to about 50 different people about doing Jitney on Broadway. And one said yes. And that was me.”

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Rebecca Taichman Joseph Marzullo/WENN

10:39 PM: Rebecca Taichman enters the press room. The first-time winner reflects on seeing fellow female directors Julie Taymor and Garry Hynes win previously, adding, “I hope this amazing thing that just happened helps encourage women all over—of every color and taste and style and viewpoint—to make theatre to tell stories that matter to them.” Continuing the conversation of supporting arts funding that Cynthia Nixon led earlier in the room, Taichman says, “Cutting the NEA—I don’t understand it ... If you actually want to decimate culture, community dialogue, and empathy, that’s how you do it. [The NEA is] beleaguered already; to cut it more is such an audacious and ridiculous move, and it says very clearly and very loudly, ‘We do not value the creation of art.’”

10:23 PM: Speaking to press, Tony-winning Come From Away director Christopher Ashley reveals the musical initially had a cast of 16 when he first read the script. (Now there are 12.) “The fewer people who told the story, the more bravura acting challenge it was, and there’s a lot of fun to be had directorially and choreographically. The fewer people that tell it, the more exciting it is.”

10:30 PM: Former Second Lady Jill Biden receives a standing ovation as she introduces the cast of Bandstand, echoing Blankenbuehler's sentiment of the show honoring U.S. veterans.

10:27 PM: Accepting the award for BEST PLAY, Oslo playwright J.T. Rogers refers to his fellow nominees as “my friends and my heroes,” and calls director Bartlett Sher an “effing genius.”

10:20 PM: Rachel Bay Jones enters the press room. Examining the role that won her her first Tony role, the Dear Evan Hansen star says, “Part of what I do onstage is play a mother who can’t be with her kid all the time because she’s working too much … That’s a very real thing. I’m experiencing that right now.”

10:15 PM: Egg shakers are passed out to the crowds at Radio City Music Hall for The Great Comet's performance of “The Abduction,” which brought audience members to the stage to mirror the immersive nature of the production. As the cast permeates the house, composer Dave Malloy gets a hug from star Josh Groban.

10:06 PM: Josh Gad jokingly announcing his return to Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum generates a quick wave of confusion in the press room.

9:58 PM: Like Alex Lacamoire, Andy Blankenbuehler wins his second consecutive Tony Award after winning in the same category last year for Hamilton. Accepting the award for BEST CHOREOGRAPHY for his work on Bandstand, Blankenbuehler (who also directed the musical) paid tribute to his grandfather, who served as a marine; while delivering his speech, Blankenbuehler held his grandfather's military dog tags.

9:51 PM: Two surprises in the Directing categories. First-time winners Rebecca Taichman and Christopher Ashley earn trophies for BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY and BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL for Indecent and Come From Away, respectively.

9:44 PM: Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul enter the press room fresh off their wins for DEAR EVAN HANSEN. Comparing winning a Tony to winning an Oscar, Pasek said, “We were BFA MT majors, where we had to learn how to spell Frank Loesser—it was part of our GPA—or knowing the seating capacity of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.” Paul added, “This is sacred ground to us, and nothing compares to this.” The two also cited the help they've received from fellow composers along the way, including Jeff Marx (“He gave us a loan that allowed us to stay in the city and let us write for a summer”) and Stephen Schwartz (“He’s been to a preview of every show we’ve ever done.”)

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Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Joseph Marzullo/WENN

9:37 PM: Rachel Bay Jones opens her acceptance speech for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL by asking, “Hey Tony Awards what the heck?!”

9:33 PM: Following a performance by Hello, Dolly!'s David Hyde Pierce, Bette Midler presents the award for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY to Laurie Metcalf. A Doll's House, Part 2 brings her her first win out of four nominations.

9:23 PM: Speaking to the press following her win, Cynthia Nixon emphasizes the importance of arts funding: “The arts are not funded very well in this country compared to other places in this world. It's important to fund the arts on every level as a means by which a civilization is gauged ... a way to reflect our society back to us. It's important to fund artists all over the country and to not have that funding tied to political points of view. You fund those artists because they're good artists.”

9:21 PM: During the commercial break, Alex Lacamoire wins his second consecutive Tony Award for BEST ORCHESTRATIONS for his work on Dear Evan Hansen. He won last year for Hamilton.

9:15 PM: In his acceptance speech for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY, Present Laughter star Kevin Kline shouts out the National Endowment for the Arts, which faces elimination from the Trump administration's proposed federal budget.

9:05 PM: It's looking to be a Dear Evan Hansen night. Ben Platt's performance of “Waving Through a Window” was flanked by wins for BEST ORIGINAL SCORE for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and—during the commercial beak—BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL for Steven Levenson.

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Gavin Creel Joseph Marzullo/WENN

8:55 PM: Gavin Creel enters the press room. On accepting his award from Sutton Foster, Creel says, “This is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life... She saw the show last night, so it just feels like my theatre pal.” He also has some advice for aspiring performers: “If you want to be in musical theatre, get off social media. Don’t disappear down your phone.”

8:52 PM: The Great Comet earns its second design award as Bradley King wins for BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL.

8:45 PM: Michael Aronov enters the press room. Expanding upon the gratitude he expressed for his parents in his speech, Aronov said, “The shaping that gets done to an individual gets done by the way they’re raised by their mother and father... [My parents] never put me in a box.”

8:43 PM: Cynthia Nixon wins her second Tony Award for The Little Foxes. Accepting the trophy for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY, she thanks he co-star Laura Linney, withom she shares both the roles of Regina and Birdie, “for thinking outside the box—and for thinking of me when she did it.”

8:40 PM: This year, the Tony Awards will honor the four nominated Best Play authors by inviting the playwrights themselves to the stage to discuss their work. The first is Paula Vogel, introduced by Kevin Spacey.

8:28 PM: Gavin Creel wins his first Tony Award for his performance in Hello, Dolly! Presenting the award to him are Scott Bakula and Creel's Thoroughly Modern Millie co-star Sutton Foster. In his speech, Creel dedicated his award to the Musical Theatre department at his alma mater, the University of Michigan: “My education there as a young person changed my life forever... If you’re out there and you have money, start a scholarship. Change someone’s life.”

8:18 PM: Christopher Akerlind enters the press room after winning for the lighting design of Indecent. Akerlind discusses working with projection designer Tal Yarden (“Sadly, there's not a category for it”) and finding a balance between the “exciting qualities of light” and the legibility of Yarden's work.

8:14 PM: Michael Aronov wins for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY for his performance in Oslo. “This is the biggest honor of my life,” he says in his speech, “mainly because my mom and dad are with me tonight....My victories mean nothing to me unless I'm sharing them with you.”

8:11 PM: Yes, that opening number was 11 minutes long. And contained about as many quick changes!

8:00 PM: And we're live! Host Kevin Spacey kicks off the night dressed in his Evan Hansen finest, complete with a cast signed “#HOST.”

7:50 PM: Christopher Akerlind wins BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY for his work on Indecent. During his speech, he expresses gratitude for being nominated alongside his mentor, Jennifer Tipton (A Doll's House, Part 2).

7:47 PM: Mimi Lien takes the first win of the night for The Great Comet as she accepts the award for BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL.

7:45 PM: The Play that Goes Wrong wins in the one category it received a nomination as Nigel Hook accepts the award for BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY.

7:42 PM: Hello, Dolly! wins its first award of the night as Santo Loquasto accepts the award for BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL. Loquasto ends his speech thanking The Divine Miss M” for showing him how to bring great heart to the project” and producer Scott Rudin, without whom I'd be nothing.”

7:39 PM: The Little Foxes' Jane Greenwood wins the Tony Award for BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY. She received a standing ovation for her first win out of 21 nominations.

7:37 PM: Sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin accept their Special Tony Award for their work on The Encounter. “We do more than amplify voices; we are a voice in our own right. We are artists and storytellers,” says Fry as he explains the in-depth research process for the show.

7:34 PM: The 2017 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award goes to James Earl Jones. Upon receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at Radio City Music Hall, Jones remarked, “So this is a big deal, huh? If you say so!” In his speech, Jones cites the influential artists who have shaped his career, including his father Robert Earl Jones, August Wilson, and Lloyd Richards.

7:29 PM: Jonathan Groff welcomes to the stage—adding “God I Hope She Gets It”—Baayork Lee, this year’s recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award. Lee was recognized for her work with the National Asian Artists Project. In her speech, Lee emphasized the importance of putting the spotlight on Asian American artists.

7:25 PM: Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama professor and head Peter Cooke and recent CMU graduate Casey Cott present the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to Rachel Harry, drama teacher at Hood River Valley High School in Oregon. In her speech, Harry said, “The theatre is inclusive: Ot celebrates the unique and the different and it embraces diversity—especially when the rest of the world does not. We need the arts; students need the arts.”

7:20 PM: The Regional Theatre Award is presented to Dallas Theatre Center. Accepting the award are Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty and Managing Director Jeffrey Woodward. “Dallas knows that a great city needs a great theatre to shine a light on who we are,” Moriarty says in his speech.

7:14 PM: Hamilton favorites Jonathan Groff and Brian d’Arcy James kick off the Creative Arts and Special Tony Awards with a “Message from the Kings.” No texting/talking during the Broadcast, and winners have 90 seconds from when their name is announced to get to the stage and deliver their speech.

7:07 PM: American Theatre Wing chair David Henry Hwang, Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin, Shubert Organization President Robert Wankel, and American Theatre Wing Executive Director Heather Hitchens deliver opening remarks on the Radio City Music Hall stage.

6:57 PM: The four musicals nominated for Best Musical—Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, The Great Comet, and Groundhog Day—are the same four up for Best Original Score and Best Book. The directors of all four are also nominated for Best Director alongside Hello, Dolly!'s Jerry Zaks.

6:43 PM: Of the 95 nominated artists tonight, 34 are first-time nominees. Half of those received nominations for their Broadway debut. Among the 17 Tony-nominated Broadway newcomers are the four playwrights up for Best Play: Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Paula Vogel (Indecent), J.T. Rogers (Oslo), and Lucas Hnath (A Doll’s House, Part 2).

6:30 PM: Welcome! Before Broadway's biggest night gets started, let's review this year's nominees. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 leads the pack with 12 nominations, while the revival of Hello, Dolly! trails closely behind with ten.

CELEBRATE THE 2016–2017 SEASON WITH THE TONY AWARD SEASON COMPILATION ALBUM!

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