Dear Evan Hansen wins big at Tonys

Ben Platt (above) won Best Leading Actor In A Musical for his role in Dear Evan Hansen. Bette Midler won Best Leading Actress In A Musical for her role in Hello, Dolly!.
Ben Platt (above) won Best Leading Actor In A Musical for his role in Dear Evan Hansen. Bette Midler won Best Leading Actress In A Musical for her role in Hello, Dolly!. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Ben Platt won Best Leading Actor In A Musical for his role in Dear Evan Hansen. Bette Midler (above) won Best Leading Actress In A Musical for her role in Hello, Dolly!.
Ben Platt won Best Leading Actor In A Musical for his role in Dear Evan Hansen. Bette Midler (above) won Best Leading Actress In A Musical for her role in Hello, Dolly!.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK•Dear Evan Hansen, a daringly unflinching exploration of loss, lies and loneliness in a high- school community, won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Musical, completing its journey from improbable idea to theatrical triumph.

The show, about an anxiety- racked adolescent whose social standing improves when he insinuates himself into the grieving family of a classmate who has killed himself, picked up six awards, including the Best Leading Actor In A Musical award for the twitching-and-tender talk-of-the-town performance by Ben Platt in the title role.

"To all young people watching at home, don't waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful," Platt, 23, said while accepting his award on Sunday.

Dear Evan Hansen's win capped a night in which Broadway, which has been booming, spread its top honours across several plays and musicals, in contrast to last year, when Hamilton swept the board.

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The ceremony, at Radio City Music Hall, was hosted by Kevin Spacey, who generally stayed away from politics, choosing instead to make fun of his own status as a late-in-the-game choice as host.

An exuberantly nostalgic production of Hello, Dolly! won for Best Musical Revival and its adored star, Bette Midler, won Best Leading Actress In A Musical, 50 years after she stepped onto a Broadway stage in the original production of Fiddler On The Roof.

The night belonged to Dear Evan Hansen, which has made stars not only of Platt, who was previously best known for appearing in the Pitch Perfect films (2012 and 2015), but also of its young songwriters, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

In an era when Broadway often means big, Dear Evan Hansen is intimate - with eight roles and an eight-piece orchestra, in a cosy 984-seat theatre. Directed by Michael Greif, it is wholly original - not based on a film, book or song catalogue - and is one of the first on Broadway to integrate social media into its depiction of communication.

Oslo, a whip-smart and unexpectedly riveting drama illuminating the largely unknown backstory behind the 1993 Middle East peace accords, won the award for Best Play in a competitive year. It was written by J.T. Rogers and presented by Lincoln Center Theater.

One of its performers, Michael Aronov, won Best Featured Actor In A Play for his role as a cocky Israeli negotiator.

Laurie Metcalf, best known for her role in television's Roseanne, won her first Tony Award - Best Leading Actress In A Play - for her portrayal of a fiercely independent woman who had walked out on her family years earlier in A Doll's House, Part 2.

Kevin Kline picked up Best Leading Actor In A Play for his portrayal of a preening actor in a revival of Noel Coward's Present Laughter.

Cynthia Nixon won Best Featured Actress In A Play for her work in a revival of The Little Foxes.

Midler gave a filibustering acceptance speech, insisting that the band stop playing as she thanked collaborators, exulted about her show and poked fun at her age and romantic life. "I'd like to thank all the Tony voters, many of whom I've actually dated," she said.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Dear Evan Hansen wins big at Tonys'. Print Edition | Subscribe