Top Tony moments: Miranda’s tearful sonnet, Corden’s antics


By Jocelyn Noveck - AP National Writer



Barbra Streisand, right, presents the award for best musical to Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday in New York.


Evan Agostini | Invision/AP

NEW YORK (AP) — As presenter Barbra Streisand noted, Tony night was “tinged with sorrow” — and she wasn’t the only one making reference to the horrific Orlando, Florida, shootings during the ceremony. But the night was also a celebration of the power of theater to bring joy. And there much joy for the cast and creators of the wildly popular “Hamilton,” which won a whopping 11 Tonys.

A look at some of the night’s top moments, both onstage and off:

A SEARING SONNET

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the eloquent hero of this Broadway season, is known for giving acceptance speeches in freestyling rap. But on this night, he told the crowd upon winning best score, he opted to read a sonnet instead, addressed to his wife. His own tears over the Orlando tragedy were infectious, as he spoke of “when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing is promised, not one day.” But, he added: “Hope and love last longer, and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside …”

THE LOOK OF DIVERSITY

For all the talk about diversity and inclusiveness this season (absent at the Oscars, present at the Tonys), nothing could beat one powerful image: all four of the musical-acting winners were black actors. “Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity,” host James Corden had said at the beginning of the show. “It’s so diverse that Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theater.”

CORDEN’S BROADWAY CRED

Speaking of Corden: After his own somber opening referring to Orlando — a piece he pre-recorded to be sure to get it right — the late-night TV host delighted the crowd with an ode to what seemed like dozens of past Broadway shows, from “Les Miserables” to “The Phantom of the Opera” to “Sweeney Todd” to “Grease.” And hey, there’s no easier way to win over a theater-loving audience than to sing a few bars from “Rose’s Turn” in “Gypsy.”

WHAT YOU DIDN’T SEE

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing Corden with his clothes off, well, you should have been in the theater. Before the show started, he came out to greet the crowd in his bathrobe, a towel turban on his head. Later, during commercial breaks, he worked the crowd, enlisting prominent audience members for impromptu singalongs. He got Jeff Daniels to sing from “The Sound of Music,” and he got Jake Gyllenhaal and Sean Hayes to sing from “Aladdin.” When he saw that Gyllenhaal was chewing gum, he simply took it and put it in his own mouth.

OUTSIDE ANTICS

Speaking of singalongs: Corden adopted the “Hamilton” practice of performing for a streetside crowd, staging brief musical interludes outside the Beacon Theater. This made for some odd combinations, like Miranda and Andrew Lloyd Webber joining Steve Martin and Edie Brickell in singing “Tomorrow” from “Annie” — or the cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun.”

A BLAST FROM THE PAST FOR GROBAN

And, speaking of “Fiddler”: Corden had a surprise for presenter Josh Groban. He unearthed, and played, a clip of the singer performing Tevye as a high school student. Groban seemed to have a good sense of humor about it.

GIVING THANKS

Many people thank their parents or their kids in their speeches, but Renee Elise Goldsberry, who plays Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton,” had an especially poignant moment speaking about her yearslong struggle to become a mother. “If you know anything about me you know I’ve spent the last 10 years just trying to have children,” she said. “God gave me Benjamin, he gave me Brielle — and he still gave me this,” she said, tearfully gesturing to her Tony.

YOU NEVER KNOW

Ivo Van Hove, who won for best direction of a play (“Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge”), told the story of how when he first came to New York at age 20, he met a woman on a park bench and told her he was an aspiring theater director. She asked for his autograph — because, she said, “You never know.” So, the director surmised in his Tony speech: “She’s watching now and thinking, ‘See? I was right.’”

PARTYING LIKE THERE’S NO (PERFORMANCE) TOMORROW

If you were in “Hamilton,” wouldn’t YOU be partying? The cast and crew had a day off Monday, and it’s a good thing: their after-party Sunday night was way, way cooler than the official post-Tony gala. The show took over the Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park, and DJs spun dance tunes until the early hours. Rapper Common, who introduced “Hamilton” at the ceremony, was among the guests. Besides eating, drinking and dancing, one could pose against a green screen and be inserted into a famous “Hamilton” photograph.

BARBRA DRESSES JUST RIGHT

Introducing Streisand, Corden warned that medical personnel were standing by, just in case her return was too exciting for some. She was appearing on the Tony stage for the first time since 1970 to present the award for best musical — to “Hamilton,” of course. “You’re making me verklempt!” she called out when the crowd gave her an ovation. Dressed in a ruffled, high-collared white blouse and black vest that emanated Revolution-era chic, she quipped when she opened the envelope: “Thank God I picked the right outfit.”

A LITTLE SELF-ESTEEM CAN’T HURT

Sheldon Harnick, the 92-year-old lyricist, wasn’t above a little healthy self-promotion when he received his lifetime achievement award.

Responding to the accolades that had just been showered upon him, he replied: “Thank you. If I didn’t deserve it, this would be embarrassing.”

Barbra Streisand, right, presents the award for best musical to Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday in New York.
http://recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_AP_496510013416-1.jpgBarbra Streisand, right, presents the award for best musical to Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday in New York. Evan Agostini | Invision/AP

By Jocelyn Noveck

AP National Writer

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