Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub of "The Band's Visit"
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Tony Awards 2018: "The Band's Visit" Wins Big, Springsteen Brings It Home
New York's Radio City Music Hall came alive Sunday night for the 72nd Tony Awards. Hosted by GRAMMY nominees Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, the star-studded evening celebrated a landmark theater season that was the best-attended in Broadway history, according to the Broadway League, with more than 31 million people enjoying the fetivities in New York and across the country.
Bareilles and Groban kicked off the show with a comical dueling piano tribute to the 90 percent of nominees who will leave the awards show empty handed, bringing out ensemble members from every Tony-nominated show for the sing-along lyric, "This is for the people who lose." Later on in the evening, the duo delivered another laugh-worthy lament, focusing on Broadway's breakneck schedule performing the song "eight times a week."
By far the biggest winner of the night was "The Band's Visit," taking home the prize in 10 of the 11 categories it was nominated in. An inspired new musical about a band of musicians from Egypt who take the wrong bus and end up in a quiet town in Israel for the night, "The Band's Visit" is a story of hope, love and faith. The show won the coveted Best Musical award.
Several individuals from "The Band's Visit" also scored wins in key categories, including Itamar Moses for Best Book Of A Musical, David Cromer for Best Direction Of A Musical, Tony Shalhoub for Best Leading Actor In A Musical, and Katrina Lenk for Best Leading Actress In A Musical. Lenk and Shalhoub performed "Omar Sharif," giving the Tony's audience a small taste of why their show is so compelling and impactful.
Billy Joel presented a special Tony Award to the great Bruce Springsteen for his work on the show "Springsteen On Broadway." What started as a limited eight-week run will have included 236 performances by the time it wraps in December. Springsteen expressed gratitude for the honor and for being accepted by the Broadway community, saying in his speech, "Thanks for making me feel so welcome on your block." Later in the show, Springsteen delivered a performance of "My Hometown."
GRAMMY nominee Tina Fey introduced the company of "Mean Girls" for a rousing performance of "Where Do You Belong?" The play matched "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical" for the most nominations going into the evening with 12.
Spongebob Squarepants himself surprised the host at center stage to deliver a psychedelic rebuttal to the show's opening number before kicking it over to the four-legged Squidward for a tap-happy performance of "I’m Not A Loser." Additional performances from the casts of "Carousel," "My Fair Lady," "Dear Evan Hanson," "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical," and "Once On This Island," which won the award for Best Revival Of A Musical.
The most touching moment of the 72nd Tony Awards came when Marjory Stoneman Douglas drama students made a surprise appearance onstage to perform "Seasons Of Love" from the musical "Rent" only moments after their teacher, Melody Herzfeld, was recognized with a special Tony Award for her inspiring efforts not only to protect her students during the tragic shooting in February, but also for encouraging them to use theater as a way to channel their hurt and sorrow into art.
Apropos of June's celebration of Pride Month, perhaps the true biggest winner of the night was the show's strong, unified message of equality. Andrew Garfield of "Angels In America" shouted out the LGBTQ community in his acceptance speech, dedicating his Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role award to those who have fought and died to protect the right to live and love. And in her acceptance speech for Best Featured Actress In A Musical for her role in "Carousel," Lindsay Mendez said, after revealing she was asked to change her last name early in her career, "Be your true self and the world will take note."
On this magical night, the theater community united and recognized its most talented individuals, most innovative productions and most lasting contributors — and as anyone who watched knows, they had a lot of fun doing it.