Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Tony awards: Jennifer Hudson, black stars and Hamilton storm London’s big night

As Broadway opens a new year, thanks to the Tony awards, a triumphant Jennifer Hudson kicks off the ceremony with a tearful performance and the Tony winning production of Hamilton and the musical satire, Mean Girls, pick up four trophies each

It was billed as the return of the glamour of the 1970s, and four decades later it brought back that sense of excitement at the Tony awards on Sunday evening. In what will be remembered as a very good year for musical theatre, the best musical gong at the 65th annual Tony awards was a walkover.

“Is that my girl?” Jennifer Hudson cried as she walked to the stage to accept the award for best lead actress in a musical for her portrayal of Effie White in the revival of the 1968 musical, The Color Purple.

Adorable: the cast of Mean Girls picked up the award for best book for Lindsay Anderson. Photograph: Joan Marcus/AP

After a mixed-race group of young women broke out into the song Shuga, Hudson was joined by the cast of the show and her proud mother, Julia. “This is the first and only time I am crying in front of you guys,” she said, moments after the applause slowed to a quiver.

Jennifer Hudson’s Destiny’s Child plea for black girls hit right notes Read more

The 68-year-old play, which was the highest grossing Broadway production last year, saw another big winner in the audience. The Color Purple, which opened on Broadway last May, also won best revival of a musical and best actress in a musical for Cynthia Erivo. The show also won the award for best featured actress in a musical, for actress Lauren Ridloff.

Another show of rare talent was directed by the stage legend Michael Grandage, whose revival of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play, The Winslow Boy, won him the Tony for best direction of a play. The show, which has been a critical and box office success since it opened at the West End’s Harold Pinter theatre in January 2016, won the award for best revival of a play and best leading actor in a play for John Lithgow.

The accolades bring an end to an annual awards ceremony dogged by controversy. Paltrow and Dinklage linked arms on the red carpet after the pair was nominated in the same category.

In November, when lead actress and actor awards were handed out, there was an outburst from presenter, the composer Jason Robert Brown, after he was cut off by the ABC presenter Barbara Walters.

An internet storm broke out after the award for best actress in a musical went to Patti LuPone, for a revival of Tony Kushner’s acclaimed play, Flight of the Conchords. She lost out to Hudson. It was an ironic twist given the musical was based on the cult character real name Silvana, who Miranda wrote about in one of his final pieces for the New Yorker.

Jennifer Hudson and her mother Julia hug after Hudson collected the award for best lead actress in a musical for her role in The Color Purple. Photograph: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup/REX

Natalie Portman carried out her tribute to the late actor, James Gandolfini, with her cast mates from her production of The Little Foxes, which closed in June after 23 previews and 224 performances.

It was a night of pride for London, though the fact that Hamilton – the hip-hop-infused musical based on the life of America’s first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton – was recognised so strongly was somewhat surprising.

In what was a promising year for black actors, Hamilton won three awards for its six nominations, for best musical, best book, and best orchestrations.

Mark Rylance – who was nominated for the fifth consecutive year – won the best featured actor in a play award for his role as Baron Bertram in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which was about two siblings who are caught up in the events surrounding Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Ben Platt took the award for best featured actor in a musical for his role as a young adult onstage during the eponymous musical about Hamilton’s life. Mark Hamill, received the lifetime achievement award.

Quick roundup

Henry Winkler won the award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play.

Read the Guardian’s review of The Seagull

Leslie Odom Jr (pictured) won the award for best actor in a musical for his role in Hamilton.

Read the Guardian’s review of The Color Purple

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