“Hamilton”, the pop culture phenomenon based on US founding father Alexander Hamilton swept the Tonys on Sunday, winning 11 of Broadway’s top awards including best musical, best actor, best direction and best score and book for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“Hamilton”, which tells the story of the ill-fated Hamilton with a deft musical melding of hip-hop and rap, R&B, ballads and traditional Broadway showstoppers, also won for featured actress and actor and several technical awards.
A somber note was cast over the festivities by the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlanda, Florida early on Sunday that killed 50 people and injured 53 others, and several winners spoke of the tragedy in their acceptance speeches.
Winning her first Tony as morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Jessica Lange said the honor “fills me with such happiness, even on such a sad day as this.”
Host James Corden opened the usually ebullient show with a statement to victims and others affected, saying, “Your tragedy is our tragedy … hate will never win.”
“Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.”
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, accepting best score of a musical, delivered a sonnet for his acceptance, done in the style of verse heard in “Hamilton” and which spoke to the shootings.
“Senseless acts of tragedy … times of hate,” he intoned, ending, voice breaking, with “love is love is love, cannot be killed.” Miranda also won best book of a musical.
Backstage, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber observed “No child is ever born to hate.”
And best actor in a play Frank Langella, winning his fourth Tony, as an Alzheimer’s-afflicted patriarch in “The Father,” said the theater community stood strong in support.
“I urge you, Orlando, to be strong,” Langella said.
“The Humans” won the Tony for best play, while Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney were named best featured actress and actor in a play for the family drama. It also won for scenic design.
“The Color Purple” took best revival of a musical, while star Cynthia Erivo took the Tony for best actress in a musical.
Miranda, who plays Hamilton, lost best actor in a musical to co-star Leslie Odom Jr., as nemesis Aaron Burr.
“God bless you, you’ve given us a new vision,” Odom told Miranda.
“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.
Other winners included Ivo van Hove, best director of a play for “A View from the Bridge,” which also won best revival of a play.
The 70th annual Tony Awards, which aired on CBS, were expected to reverse a recent slide in TV ratings, as “Hamilton” devotees and those keyed in to the fanfare drove interest.
The show’s success has played a big part in a record-breaking Broadway season, including attendance of 13.3 million and $1.37 billion in sales.
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.”