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Most of the frontrunners took home statuettes from Sunday night’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, but a few high-profile shows and contenders left empty-handed.
While Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 led the entire field with 12 nominations, some observers feared it might end up being shut out, like The Scottsboro Boys in 2011, which failed to turn any of its 12 noms into wins. The Great Comet was saved from that fate by wins for set and lighting design, but as expected, lost out in all the top categories to the overwhelming favorite, Dear Evan Hansen. And Come From Away, which many thought had an even better shot than The Great Comet at knocking off Evan Hansen to win best musical, had to be content with best direction for Christopher Ashley.
Meanwhile, Groundhog Day‘s Andy Karl, a beloved member of the Broadway community who has been performing in eight shows a week with a fully torn ACL, came up short against Evan Hansen‘s 23-year-old breakout star Ben Platt in the best actor in a musical category, meaning he remains winless despite accruing three noms over the last four years (the others came for 2014’s Rocky and 2015’s On the Twentieth Century). He’s starting to enter Kelli O’Hara territory at this point — although she did eventually win, on nom No. 6.
In addition to Platt, known for the Pitch Perfect movies, three more of the eight acting awards went to Hollywood names — Kevin Kline (Present Laughter), Bette Midler (Hello, Dolly!) and Cynthia Nixon (The Little Foxes). As expected, the rest of the nominees who are widely established beyond Broadway were not recognized: Chris Cooper (A Doll’s House, Part 2), Corey Hawkins (Six Degrees of Separation), Cate Blanchett (The Present), Sally Field (The Glass Menagerie), Laura Linney (The Little Foxes), Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole (War Paint), Josh Groban (The Great Comet), David Hyde Pierce (Hello, Dolly!), Nathan Lane (The Front Page) and Andrew Rannells (Falsettos).
Perhaps the biggest upset of the night was the exclusion of Danny DeVito, who was widely expected to bag best featured actor in a play for Arthur Miller’s The Price. That award went instead to Michael Aronov for best play winner Oslo.
Coming one year after “the Hamiltonys” raised the bar on racial inclusiveness, with all four musical performance awards going to people of color, the 71st Tonys was not a banner edition for diversity, despite actors of color being represented with six nominations. However, August Wilson’s Jitney did take home the award for best revival of a play, thus honoring the work of an African-American playwright, director (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) and all-black ensemble cast. John Legend, who was an associate producer on the revival, joined the winners onstage.
As for the directing honors, Indecent‘s Rebecca Taichman was a surprise winner in the play category for her Broadway debut, joining the small club of women who have won Tonys for direction. And Ashley’s win for directing Come From Away left Michael Greif — who earned the first of his four nominations 21 years ago for Rent and was up this year for Evan Hansen — still waiting for his Tony moment.
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