'Dear Evan Hansen,' Bette Midler, 'Oslo'
win big at Broadway's Tony Awards
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[June 12, 2017]
By Chris Michaud
NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Dear Evan Hansen,"
the teen-angst driven musical about a high school outsider, won the top
prize at Sunday's Tony Awards, Broadway highest honors, while J.T.
Rogers' Mideast peace accord drama "Oslo" was named best play.
The surprise hit musical won a total of six Tonys, including best
musical actor for 23 year-old newcomer Ben Platt in the title role,
featured actress Rachel Bay Jones, as well as best book, score and
As widely predicted, Bette Midler won her first competitive Tony as best
actress in a musical for "Hello, Dolly!".
Living up to her bawdy reputation, Midler delivered a speech laced with
mild profanity to the star-laden audience at Radio City Music Hall,
chastising the orchestra as its music welled when she spoke at length.
"Hello, Dolly!" won four Tonys, including best musical revival.
"It's a very tough schedule," Midler, 71, said backstage, noting she is
"a woman of a certain age." But she said the experience had been
"life-affirming and life-changing," telling reporters between tears,
"It's more than I deserve."
On stage she praised the old-school musical as a balm for "these
terrible, terrible times."
Actors Cynthia Nixon, Kevin Kline and Laurie Metcalf all won Tonys for
performances in plays.
Kline won the lead actor Tony for his turn as an egocentric actor in
Noel Coward's "Present Laughter."
"I want to thank everybody," Kline said, adding "we don't do this
alone." Like many other winners, he made a pitch for the National
Endowment for the Arts, which is facing funding cuts under the Trump
administration, saying without it "half the people in this room wouldn't
Former "Roseanne" star Metcalf won her first Tony after several
nominations, taking best actress in a play for "A Doll's House, Part 2,"
a lively, fast-paced sequel to the Henrik Ibsen classic.
Nixon was named best featured actress in a play for a revival of Lillian
Hellman's "The Little Foxes," about a greedy southern family's
underhanded business practices.
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Cast and crew members of
'Dear Evan Hansen' accept the award for Best Musical at the 71st
TONY Awards at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Robert
Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The actress lauded Hellman for her "eerily prescient play."
Noting one of its lines about people who "eat the Earth" and others
who "watch them do it," Nixon praised "the people who in 2017 are
refusing to just stand around and watch them do it."
Michael Aronov was a surprise winner in the featured actor category
for his kinetic performance as an Israeli negotiator in "Oslo," a
behind-the-scenes look at the 1993 Middle East peace accords.
"Oslo" playwright Rogers, making his Broadway debut, thanked "The
ladies and gentlemen who believed in democracy, who believed in
peace, who believed in seeing their enemies as humans. I give this
up to you."
Gavin Creel won best featured actor in a musical for "Hello, Dolly!"
and "August Wilson's Jitney" won best revival of a play.
First-time Tonys host Kevin Spacey kicked off the show with a medley
of songs referencing his self-doubt about successfully hosting the
annual awards show compared to past hosts Neil Patrick Harris, James
Corden and Hugh Jackman.
Broadway enjoyed a record-breaking season thanks to last year's Tony
winner, pop culture juggernaut "Hamilton," and musicals like "Hello,
Dolly!" and "Come From Away," which won a Tony for director
"Indecent" director Rebecca Taichman won for play directing, and
veteran actor James Earl Jones was presented with a lifetime
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Simon Cameron-Moore)
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