Tony Awards: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ sweeps, Bette Midler wins, ‘Oslo’ takes Best Play

Critics darling “Dear Evan Hansen” won Best Musical at Sunday’s Tony Awards. It also claimed two acting awards: lead Ben Platt and featured actress Rachel Bay Jones. Recent Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) won their first Tony for their spellbinding score for this musical about a high school student who gets caught in a web of lies. The pair had contended several seasons back for their musicalization of the film classic “A Christmas Story.” The tuner also picked up the prizes for book and, in an upset, orchestrations over “Hello, Dolly!”

As predicted, Bette Midler won the lead actress award on the musical side for her return to Broadway after a nearly half-century absence in “Hello, Dolly!” which claimed the revival prize. And Gavin Creel took the featured actor award for his scene-stealing turn in this tuner. This Broadway favorite gave an impassioned speech about the importance of arts education and gave a shout-out to the sponsors of the scholarship that allowed him to study at the University of Michigan. One of the presenters was Sutton Foster, with whom he made his Broadway debut in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” back in 2002.

Best Play went as expected to “Oslo,” J.T. Rogers three-hour examination of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority in the Norwegian capital city that resulted in a peace accord. Michael Aronov had won the first award of the evening, claiming the featured actor prize for his portrayal of diplomat Uri Savir who is at the heart of the drama.

Both directing awards went to long-shots, with Rachel Taichman winning on the play front for “Indecent” while Christopher Ashley prevailed for his helming of the musical “Come From Away.” Among those Taichman edged out was Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who helmed the first Broadway production of August Wilson‘s “Jitney” which won best revival.

Eleven years after winning a Tony for her leading performance in “Rabbit Hole,” Cynthia Nixon picked up a bookend, this one for her featured role as the flighty Birdie in the revival of Lillian Hellman‘s classic play “The Little Foxes.” She swaps roles nightly with Laura Linney, who is nominated in lead for her powerful performance as the manipulative Regina.

While Linney had been nominated three times in the past without winning, this was not to be her year. Rather, it was another three-time also-ran who prevailed: Laurie Metcalf for “A Doll’s House Part 2.” Unlike her previous bids, when she was the sole Tony nominee from those shows, this time the rest of the four-person cast was cited as well.

Kevin Kline won two Tonys in three years almost three decades ago for his work in two musicals: a featured role in “On the Twentieth Century” (1978) and a star turn in “The Pirates of Penzance” (1981). He won over on the play side for his over-the-top performance in a revival of Noel Coward‘s “Present Laughter.”

Many of the below-the-line awards are handed out in the hour prior to the Tonys telecast on CBS. “The Great Comet” claimed the lighting and scenic design awards while “Hello, Dolly!” took the costume design prize. On the play side, three shows each won one of the design races. Perennial als0-ran Jane Greenwood finally won a Tony for crafting the costumes for “The Little Foxes.” “Indecent” won lighting while “The Play That Goes Wrong” prevailed for its scenic design, its only bid.

Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler was one of just two nominees for “Bandstand” and won. This is his third Tony after prevailing for two collaborations with Lin-Manuel Miranda on “In the Height” (2008) and “Hamilton” (2016).

Host Kevin Spacey opened the 71st annual Tony Awards with a 11-minute marathon medley that highlighted the four nominated musicals: the epic “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” the critics darling “Dear Evan Hansen,” the sleeper hit “Come From Away” and the tuner version of the hit film “Groundhog Day.” The Oscar and Tony-winning Spacey, renowned for his acting, proved to be a deft song-and-dance man too.

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