On June 10, CBS aired the American Theatre Wing’s 72nd Annual Tony Awards, more formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards. The American Theatre Wing was founded by suffragettes – a group who likely would have been quite proud of the unofficial theme of the evening: social justice.
Pop stars-turned-Broadway stars Sara Bareilles, who wrote and starred in Waitress, and Josh Groban, who starred in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, co-hosted the evening using whimsical narrative songs to move the program along. Perhaps in foreshadowing the theme, Sara Bareilles even sported a pantsuit for the opening number, which was dedicated to everyone who went home without a Tony.
Though several awards were granted for outstanding work in every element of theatre, both on and offstage, a few recipients stood out in their acceptance speeches:
1. Best Leading Actor in a Play: Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Yes, Spiderman indeed won a Tony. He dedicated his award to the LGBTQ+ community, ending with a declaration that we should “bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked,” alluding to the recent Supreme Court decision to reverse the verdict that the Colorado baker who refused service to a same-sex couple was guilty of discrimination on the grounds that his trial was biased (more on that here).
2. Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit
Ari’el Stachel spoke about his Middle Eastern heritage and the significance of having a mainstream musical that tells Middle Eastern stories today, a type musical that did not exist when he first entered the industry. He explained the concerns of Middle Eastern performers in finding work despite their race, and ended his speech with this reminder: “Your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.”
3. Excellence in Theatre Education: Melody Herzfeld, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL
You may recognize the name “Parkland” from the news after the tragic school shooting that occurred at this town’s high school on Valentine’s Day this year. Drama teacher Melody Herzfeld not only hid and protected dozens of her students that day, but she has also encouraged her students
to channel their hurt and sorrow into art. So, she deservingly won this Tony and her students performed “Seasons of Love” from Rent at the Tony Awards. The soloist featured in the performance (that you can watch here) is Kali Clougherty (pictured center above), an incoming first-year music theatre major at our very own Elon University!
4, Best Leading Actress in a Play: Glenda Jackson, Three Tall Women
Although Glenda Jackson is not American, she does understand America well. After thanking all those involved in the making of Three Tall Women, she noted, “America is always great.” Much like herself, her comment was classic and tasteful.
Limelight Records extends its heartfelt congratulations to all Tony recipients and nominees, and extends a special congratulations to Elon students, both future (Kali Clougherty) and past (Taylor Trensch, Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen; Barrett Weed, Janis Ian in Mean Girls) who performed at the show.
Images retrieved from: