Hamilton musical sweeps Tony Awards

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (above) during a performance at the Tony Awards; and presenter Barbra Streisand. PHOTO: REUTERS
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda during a performance at the Tony Awards; and presenter Barbra Streisand (above). PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Hamilton, the pop culture phenomenon based on United States founding father Alexander Hamilton, swept the Tonys on Sunday, winning 11 of Broadway's top awards, including best musical, actor, direction, score and book for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The musical recounts the life of the first US Treasury Secretary, who was fatally shot in a pistol duel, with a deft musical melding of hip-hop, rap, R&B, ballads and traditional Broadway showstoppers. It also won for featured actress and actor and several technical awards.

A sombre note was cast over the festivities by Sunday's attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 50 people and wounded 53.

Host James Corden opened the usually ebullient show with a statement to victims and others affected: "Your tragedy is our tragedy... Hate will never win.

"Tonight's show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle," he said at the Beacon Theatre ceremony, wearing one of the special grey ribbons created by the awards to honour the dead.

Barbra Streisand, making her first Tonys appearance in 40 years, presented Hamilton with the best musical award. She said: "Tonight, our joy is tinged with sorrow. Art can educate us and entertain us and, in times like these, console us."

Jessica Lange, winning her first Tony as morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, said the honour "fills me with such happiness, even on such a sad day as this".

Miranda, while accepting the prize for best score for a musical, delivered a sonnet done in the style of verse heard in Hamilton. "Senseless acts of tragedy... times of hate," he said, his voice breaking as he ended with "Love is love is love, cannot be killed." He also won best book of a musical.

Frank Langella, who won his fourth Tony for best actor in a play as an Alzheimer's-afflicted patriarch in The Father, said the theatre community stood in support. "I urge you, Orlando, to be strong," he said.

Backstage, Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "No child is ever born to hate."

The Humans won for best play, while Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney were named best featured actress and actor in a play for the drama about the downward spiral of an American middle-class family. It also won for scenic design.

The Color Purple, based on the 1982 Alice Walker novel, took best revival of a musical, while star Cynthia Erivo won for best actress in a musical. Other winners included Ivo van Hove, best director of a play for Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge, which also won best revival of a play.

Miranda, who plays Hamilton, lost best actor in a musical to co-star Leslie Odom Jr as his nemesis Aaron Burr. "God bless you, you've given us a new vision," he told Miranda.

Backstage, Odom spoke of the US shootings, saying "something like this happens and all of this seems pretty silly".

However, he said at the matinee earlier that the cast realised that people who had tickets for months were counting on seeing the show. "We can't let them (the killers) take that away from those people," he said.

Hamilton also won awards for Renee Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs as best featured actress and actor in a musical, best director Thomas Kail, and for best lighting, costumes, choreography and orchestrations.

In a year when the Oscars drew criticism for lacking non-white nominees, the Tonys, led by the multi-cultural cast of Hamilton, stood rich with diversity. Corden joked that the Tonys were "like the Oscars - but with diversity".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline Hamilton musical sweeps Tony Awards. Subscribe