The best of Broadway got to take a bow on Sunday night at the 71st annual Tony Awards, and while Kevin Spacey’s opening medley and accolades for Bette Midler and Ben Platt were among the night’s highlights, there were a number of memorable moments that didn’t make the CBS telecast.
EW had a seat inside Radio City Music Hall as the big show got under way, and we’ve rounded up some of what you didn’t get to see if you were tuning in at home.
Big love for the Bidens
Before the Tonys telecast began, the news that former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were in attendance was met with a standing ovation from the Radio City Music Hall crowd. Jill Biden received another rousing response during the ceremony when she appeared on stage to discuss the veterans charity Got Your 6 and introduce a performance from the musical Bandstand, which focuses on soldiers struggling to readjust to civilian life after returning from World War II.
All hail the King(s)
Not all the Tony Awards are handed out on television – a number of below-the-line honors were awarded out before the televised ceremony and during commercial breaks. Kevin Spacey (and his various impressions) weren’t the emcees of those creative arts awards, though. Instead, two of Hamilton’s most regal stars, Brian d’Arcy James and Jonathan Groff, who have both played King George III in last year’s best musical winner (James is currently playing the role on Broadway), handled the responsibility. “We are the kings of the Tony Awards!” Groff declared. Awesome, wow.
Twenty-first time is the charm
Costume designer Jane Greenwood should make 21 her new lucky number — that’s how many nominations she’s had (seriously, 21!) before capturing her first win, for her work on the play The Little Foxes. “It’s been my dream to win this Tony, and here it is!” she gushed. (Greenwood previously received a special Tony for lifetime achievement in 2014, but this marks her first costume design win).
James Earl Jones’ lifetime achievement award
During the pre-show ceremony, James Earl Jones was presented with a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theater and was met with a standing ovation as he took the stage. “So this is a big deal, huh?” he joked to the audience. Jones then went on to thank his father and his late wife, Cecilia Hart, “for being such a wonderful companion in my life and in my work, and for being the great co-producer of our son Flynn and for being so dazzling on the red carpet.” He also thanked the New York Police Department, “for assisting us at our backstage doors every night.”
Dear Evan Hansen finds even more Tonys
The accolades Dear Evan Hansen won during the Tonys telecast weren’t the only prizes captured by the best musical winner. Awards for best orchestrations and best book of a musical also went to Alex Lacamoire (winning in back-to-back years, after taking the same category last year for Hamilton) and Steven Levenson, respectively, for their contributions to the heart-wrenching hit.
The awards for original score (which were televised, and went to Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) were followed immediately by Ben Platt’s performance of the show’s “Waving Through a Window” and then Levenson’s win for best book — a one-two-three punch that cemented the show as the night’s frontrunner.
Andy Blankenbueler repeats
Lacamoire wasn’t the only Hamilton alum to make a return to the awards podium — after winning best chorography last year for that musical, Andy Blankenbuehler did it again this year with his latest effort, Bandstand. Blankenbuehler brought his grandfather’s dog tags with him on stage as he accepted the award for the military-themed musical.
There weren’t any behind-the-scenes bits or sketches when the telecast went to commercial breaks (last year, that’s when Jake Gyllenhaal and Sean Hayes joined James Corden for an Aladdin singalong), but there was a chance for theater-lovers to test their knowledge — a series of multiple choice questions and Did You Know?-type factoids were projected on the screen when the show was at a commercial break and there weren’t additional creative arts awards to hand out. (If you didn’t already know, Harold Prince holds the record for the most Tony Awards of any individual, with 21.)
Standing ovations for Ben and Bette
Their wins were expected, but they were still well received — when Ben Platt was named best actor in a musical for his role in Dear Evan Hansen, the crowd got to its feet to congratulate him, and did the same again when Bette Midler won the leading actress prize for Hello, Dolly!
And the after-parties…
The night didn’t end when Dear Evan Hansen was crowned best musical. The official Tonys after-party brought attendees to the nearby Plaza Hotel, where Josh Groban was spotted chatting with Keegan-Michael Key, Vice President Biden snapped photos with guests, and another political figure — Hamilton alum Christopher Jackson — chatted with a young fan of the musical. A few blocks away, Dear Evan Hansen had its own party fittingly outfitted in all things blue — from striped polo shirts (and, for some, casts) on the bartenders to quotes from the show on the windows. On the way out, guests even got an Evan Hansen shirt of their own.