2016 Tony Awards Winners Comments
Our New York Editor Tom Millward was on hand at last weekend's ceremony of The 70th Annual Tony Awards at New York's Beacon Theatre, to greet the winners as they came off stage.
Here is a selection of winners, sharing their thoughts with us after their momentous achievements:
Best Score & Best Book of a Musical
"I spent seven years writing this and I want to hammer that home a lot. Honestly, it takes a long time to get it into this kind of shape and that’s an enormous act of faith. We have tragic acts like today [in Orlando] when you realise tomorrow is not promised and yet you endeavour to write things that you know are going to take years. That paradox and that schism is in all of it. But I want young people to start writing. That’s why we have 20,000 students seeing ‘Hamilton’ every year because I’m really excited about what they’re going to write."
Best Leading Actress in a Play
"With any great part, there’s a time in your life when you come to it and something happens between you and the character. I have found that several times in my career, along the way. I enjoyed playing the role in London years ago and I know the performance was good. But this time I came to it and it felt explosive. I don’t know whether it has to do with what you bring – your life history or life experience, but somehow this one had that feeling about it… It’s interesting because I think when theatre works, there’s nothing more thrilling in the world because there’s an immediate sort of alchemy. There’s a certain exchange of energy that happens between the audience and the performers. It’s palpable when you’re on the stage. Sometimes when I’m doing a scene and there are specific lines, I’ll hear someone in the audience respond audibly. There’s something about that kind of exchange. It’s thrilling and it just boosts you."
Best Leading Actor in a Play
"My brother is 80 years old. My brother has dementia. My brother is very much alive in me every time I play Andre in ‘The Father.’ He’s doing well. He goes in and out, but I’m not alone in this. I’ve never played a role in which so many people come back stage and sit on the floor of my dressing room and weep, not necessarily because of my performance, but because so many of us are dealing with people who are losing reality and people who suddenly don’t know who you are. That’s been the most powerful thing I discovered in this. The carer is very often much more in pain. They are so used to the person knowing who they are and then one day, the person looks at them blankly and doesn’t remember years of eating together, love-making, having children, going on vacations… They are just a stranger. It’s very painful."
LESLIE ODOM, JR.
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
"I’ve watched [The Tonys] for a while. Not since childhood or anything, but since college and I remember when one of the first things Phylicia Rashad said in her speech was that she wondered for years what it would take. And I wondered the same thing. I think the most interesting thing that I have learned is that because only one person gets up to accept it, I thought it was because of a solo effort. I thought that you get it because you’re just so fabulous on your own that you can sort of work your way into getting one of these. I didn’t realise what a team of people it would take. I’m leaning on the support of a lot of people. There’s the people I spoke about in my speech like my castmates, but I used to laugh at the people with the bloated teams – with the agent, and the manager, and the lawyer, and the publicist, and the stylist – but let me tell you, you need a good person in every one of those jobs. There are so many people that I have to thank."
RENEE ELISE GOLDSBERRY
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
"I never thought for a second there was anything strange about the fact that I was playing Angelica Schuyler, except perhaps that I didn’t feel the kind of power that Nikki Minaj has, when she’s rapping. But it didn’t have anything to do with me not looking like what Angelica Schuyler looked like. I’m very grateful. I had a lot of wonderful teachers and I had wonderful parents. I had a lot of support. I do create artificial barriers for myself, but I never, ever, ever see the fact that I might not look like somebody makes me unequipped to play them. So I am so grateful that Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail and the producers saw in me what I see in myself and what I aspire to be. That’s a woman that is learning every day what it means to be powerful and influential, in spite of whatever barriers exist. I understand that’s who she is and I am glad that they just let me live in that role without question. I am grateful that it was rewarded so beautifully."
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
"The way that this season feels… It’s all very new to me. I don’t have a lot to compare this Broadway experience to. I didn’t know much about Broadway before this show. I had never worked here and really, I had never worked in New York before. But growing up, I felt like there was no place for me here and that was a big reason why I never came here. So, having been a part of this season, where I look around and see it is so inclusive… and not just culturally, but also in terms of ability and in terms of age, there is so much diversity on Broadway right now. I’m very proud to be a part of that. And it makes me so happy to see so many kids running around and nerding out on all these theatre shows because they can find themselves in that."
IVO VAN HOVE
Best Direction of a Play
"You might not believe me, but I sleep seven or eight hours each night. And I like that. But at the same time, I don’t look at theatre as my job. I don’t work in the theatre to make money to have a good life afterwards. A big part of my life I live in the theatre. I express who I am and what I think and feel about people and about the world in my productions. So that means that I am quite relaxed in a weird way. I’m not stressed because it’s my life. Some days you have good days and other days are not so good. That’s why I do this."
JEFFREY SELLER (Producer of Hamilton)
"I’m filled with joy at the most extraordinary year one could ever ask for in the theatre. To have started the season in July of last year and ended it here in June has been the most wonderful ride a producer, an artist, an actor, a stage-hand, a musician, that any of us could have ever dreamed of… The word ‘believe’ starts with the artist. We believe in the artist. Sandy, Jill and I championed Lin. And when Lin says he wants to do something, we say yes! It’s not a question of: Do I like that idea? Is that idea gonna sell tickets? It’s: If you’re going down that road, we are going down that road with you. It is also true that as Lin started to write and as he started to share the songs that he was formulating – originally for what he thought would be a concept album – we were getting more and more excited. Then there was a moment at which we thought that this will be a pretty good show. I have to express that with every passing week, we have been astounded by the ways in which ‘Hamilton’ has reached out its tentacles and its roots and affected people all over North America."