Blacks and Hamilton Win Big at Tony Awards

Clockwise from top left: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs, Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. (Credit Photographs by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

By Michael Paulson,

“Hamilton,” an improbable hip-hop musical about America’s first Treasury secretary, completed its rapturous march across America’s awards landscape on Sunday, picking up Broadway’s highest honor: the Tony Award for best new musical.

The prize capped an amazing season for the show, a smash hit that has been sold out from the start, captivating audiences and the broader culture through its use of today’s sounds and a largely nonwhite cast to explore America’s revolutionary origins and their contemporary relevance.

In all, “Hamilton” won 11 Tony Awards — one fewer than the record 12 won by “The Producers” in 2001.

The evening was also noteworthy for the way it contrasted Broadway with Hollywood: All four awards for performances in musicals went to black actors.

The big night for “Hamilton” was altered by a national tragedy: 18 hours before the awards ceremony began, a lone gunman armed with an AR-15-type assault rifle opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., leaving 50 people dead. The shooting — the deadliest in United States history — added a note of sadness, disbelief and anger to Broadway’s big night.

“Senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised — not one day,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and star of “Hamilton,” declared, emotionally reciting a sonnet he had written as he accepted the Tony for best score. “Love,” he said, “cannot be killed or swept aside.”

The Tony Awards, as well as CBS, which broadcast the event, dedicated the ceremony to those affected by the tragedy. Performers and presenters arrived at the Beacon Theater wearing silver ribbons — created by the Tony-winning designer William Ivey Long in the color of the award itself — to acknowledge Orlando. Between the time of a morning rehearsal and the evening broadcast, “Hamilton” decided to drop the use of muskets in its production number (“Yorktown”), while the comedian/musician Steve Martin cut a joke that alluded to violence.

As the show began, its host, James Corden, paid tribute to the Orlando victims and their families, saying “our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity.”

“Hate will never win,” Mr. Corden said. “Together we have to make sure of that.” He added, “Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.”


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