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Tony Awards 2016: Jessica Lange wins best actress in a play

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Joan Marcus

Jessica Lange has won the Tony Award for best actress in a play with her performance as a morphine-addicted matriarch in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Accepting the honor, she said, “This is a dream come true. It fills me with such happiness even on such a sad day as this.” That comment was in reference to the mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay club early Sunday morning that left 50 dead.

Lange wasn’t the only winner to comment on the terror attack. Accepting the Tony Award for best original score for Hamilton, show creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda read a sonnet that touched on the tragedy. At the opening of the show, host James Corden read a statement about the shooting, saying, “Hate will never win.” The entire ceremony was dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives on Sunday.

The Tony is Lange’s first, on her first nomination.

Playing Mary Tyrone, Lange stars opposite Gabriel Byrne and Michael Shannon in director Jonathan Kent’s staging of the classic Eugene O’Neill drama, which centers on a dysfunctional Irish-American family that’s coming apart at the seams.

In an interview with The New York Times in April, Lange said of the production, “You wouldn’t do this if you wanted to enter into something casually. I found that Mary Tyrone demands more than any character I’ve ever played. Blanche [DuBois] comes close. Frances Farmer comes close. This part more than any and this play more than any, it’s a real step off into the abyss. We realized from the beginning that nobody could hold back.”

Lange beat out Laurie Metcalf in Misery, Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed, Sophie Okonedo in The Crucible, and Michelle Williams in Blackbird.

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