Last night’s Tony Awards was one for the books. It brought people together in extraordinary ways to honor not only Broadway excellence but love. The evening’s feats did not go unnoticed. The 70th annual ceremony saw its highest ratings in 15 years, with many crediting the presence of the wildly-successful “Hamilton,” which took home 11 awards for the night. Below are eight of the most memorable moments from the ceremony:
1. James Corden’s opening speech and performance
In the wake of the shooting in Orlando, the ceremony was dedicated to the victims. Host James Corden opened the show with remarks on the tragedy, saying, “All we can say is you are not on your own right now, your tragedy is our tragedy. The theatre is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win.” This message strongly resonated throughout the evening and many of the winners spoke about it in their acceptance speech.
In the tradition of “the show must go on,” Corden went into his opening number, which told the story of his dream to be on the stage. It featured him in many iconic Broadway roles in musicals such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The energetic performance really set the tone for the evening.
2. Frank Langella’s acceptance speech
Langella, who won for Best Leading Actor in a Play, spoke of his journey in the acting world. Speaking of what had happened in Orlando, he said, “When something bad happens, we have three choices. We let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us.” He called for Orlando to be strong, for those that were in the room would be “with them every step of the way.”
— GIPHY (@GIPHY) June 13, 2016
3. The Obamas introduce “Hamilton” performance
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introduced the cast of “Hamilton” to the stage. They are no strangers to the musical either. In 2009, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda talked about his idea to do a hip-hop show about Alexander Hamilton at the White House’s Poetry Jam, which sent the room into a fit of laughter. However, by the end of the performance of “Alexander Hamilton,” everyone was awestruck and Miranda received a standing ovation. The entire cast had the chance to perform at the White House in March, where Obama tried his hand at freestyle.
Recalling their first encounter with the musical, Obama says in the Tony’s introduction, “Who’s laughing now?” Leading to the performance, Michelle Obama says, “America is what we the people make of it–as long as we stay just like our country: young, scrappy and hungry.” The explosive performance included the songs “History Has Its Eyes On You” and “Yorktown.” The cast also performed without their usual muskets, out of respect for what had unfolded in Orlando.
4. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton parody
— Culturalist (@Culturalist) June 13, 2016
Adding a note of humor and lightheartedness to the evening was the parody of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Andrew Rannells of “The Book of Mormon” portrayed Trump in the spoof “The Book of Moron” and Glenn Close played Hillary Clinton in “A Clinton Line.”
5. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Best Original Score acceptance speech
In his emotionally-powerful acceptance speech, Miranda read his sonnet that was dedicated both to his wife and to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Part of the sonnet reads, “This show is proof that history remembers / We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger / We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that 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.” His words brought tears to many people’s eyes and left a mark on everyone’s hearts.
— Upworthy (@Upworthy) June 13, 2016
6. “Spring Awakening” takes the stage
The cast of “Spring Awakening,” which was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical, performed two songs: “Mama Who Bore Me” and “The Bitch of Living.” The musical features hearing, hard of hearing and deaf actors, which also means the performance included ASL.
It was, however, a long journey to the stage and the Deaf West Theatre began a Kickstarter campaign in May to fund their ability to perform. They needed funds to fly the cast, get the costumes out of storage and paying for rehearsal space. They raised over $200,000, paving the way to the Beacon Theatre’s stage to deliver their incredible performance.
7. Josh Groban’s throwback
Corden surprised Groban with a throwback video of him playing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” from his high school days. Though Groban was a bit embarrassed, it made for a hilarious moment as the audience got to watch him sing “If I Were a Rich Man.” He is set to make his Broadway debut in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” starting this fall.
Bonus: “Commercial Karaoke”
Attendees of the Tony Awards were treated to a “commercial karaoke” performance during one of the commercial breaks. Corden, Sean Hayes and Jake Gyllenhaal serenaded the audience with “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin,” which already has us waiting for the next Carpool Karaoke: Broadway edition.
What was your favorite moment from this year’s Tony Awards?