Tonys: Shows of All Sorts, Sizes Celebrated as Broadway Ends Its Most Successful Season Ever

The heart wants what the heart wants — how else can one explain the fact that the two major winners at Sunday night's 72nd Tony Awards, Broadway's biggest night, are such different beasts?

True, The Band's Visit, which won best musical (the only Tony thought to make a significant dent at the box office) and nine other prizes, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which won best play and five others, were both inspired by movies — the former is a musical take on a 2007 Israeli film, while the latter is an add-on to the blockbuster franchise of the same name — but other than that, they couldn't be much more different.

The Band's Visit is a low-budget show that was an off-Broadway sensation a season before conquering the Great White Way, just like the last three best musical winners, 2015's Fun Home, 2016's Hamilton and 2017's Dear Evan Hansen. Potter, meanwhile, was imported from London and became the most expensive play ever mounted on Broadway.

The showing of The Band's Visit on Sunday exceeded even its supporters' most optimistic hopes. Indeed, the last time a show won best musical, best actor in a musical and best actress in a musical, as The Band's Visit did with Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, was 15 years ago when Hairspray! managed the feat. And, like Hairspray!, The Band's Visit also snagged best featured actor in a musical, for Ari'el Stachel. The other prizes it claimed were best direction of a musical (David Cromer), best book of a musical (Itamar Moses), best original score (David Yazbek), best orchestrations (Jamshied Sharifi), best lighting design in a musical (Tyler Micoleau) and best sound design of a musical (Kai Harada).

Potter, the only best play nominee still running, was widely expected to do as well as it did. Its other wins were for best direction of a play (John Tiffany, presumably edging Angels in America's two-time past winner Marianne Elliott) and four technical or craft prizes — best scenic design in a play (Christine Jones), best costume design in a play (Katrina Lindsay), best lighting design in a play (Neil Austin) and best sound design of a play (Gareth Fry).

In perhaps the night's biggest upset, Once on This Island, a revival of the 1990 musical about drama on an island off the French Antilles, now being performed in the round at the intimate Circle in the Square Theatre, toppled two much-celebrated new takes on Golden Age classics, Carousel and My Fair Lady, to win best revival of a musical.

Meanwhile, Angels, an epic 7½-hour critical triumph, won best revival of a play and also prizes for Andrew Garfield (best actor in a play) and Nathan Lane (best featured actor in a play, the Broadway veteran's third win but first in 17 years). However, Denise Gough, who had been widely tipped to win best featured actress in a play, on the heels of her second Olivier Award, was upended by Three Tall Women's Laurie Metcalf, making Metcalf only the sixth performer — male or female — ever to win acting Tonys in back-to-back years. (Metcalf, who recently lost out on a best supporting actress Oscar for Lady Bird and lost her network TV gig on Roseanne, won the best actress in a play Tony last year for A Doll's House, Part 2.) It was universally anticipated that Metcalf's co-star, the legendary Glenda Jackson, would win best actress in a play — her first-ever Tony, 30 years after she last appeared on Broadway — and indeed she did.

Two other expected — and popular — winners were Carousel's Lindsay Mendez, for best featured actress in a musical, and Justin Peck, for best choreography.

Only two other shows took home any prizes: SpongeBob SquarePants (best scenic design in a musical, for David Zinn) and My Fair Lady (best costume design in a musical, for Catherine Zuber). Meanwhile, Mean Girls, which came into the Tonys tied with SpongeBob for the most noms, left empty-handed, as did The Iceman Cometh, Farinelli and the King, Travesties, Frozen, Lobby Hero, The Children, Junk, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Meteor Shower, 1984, Saint Joan, Children of a Lesser God, and, save for a special award for John Leguizamo, Latin History for Morons.

The Broadway League recently announced that the 2017-2018 season was Broadway's best-attended (some 13.8 million people) and highest-grossing (nearly $1.7 billion) in history. A large part of that was driven by two shows that have been around for years, Hamilton and The Lion King; one that is unlike any other and may not be a repeatable phenomenon, Springsteen on Broadway ("The Boss," Bruce Springsteen, took home a special Tony on Sunday); and a bunch of Hollywood adaptations (including Potter and Mean Girls).

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Broadway community wanted to use the Tonys to remind people to check out the Band's Visits and Once on This Islands that it has to offer, as well.

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