My Top 5 Favorite Moments of the 2016 Tony Awards.

And mic drop!

The 2016 Tony Awards is in the books!

Ironically, I think it was the most anticipated Tony Awards I’ve ever seen in my 23 years in the biz, even though we all knew who was going to win.  (I expect when we announce tomorrow’s Tony Pool winners, we’ll have some very high scores.)

But the Tonys are not only about giving out hunks of metal that allow agents to ask for more money for their clients.  The Tony Awards telecast is one giant long infomercial for what we all do here.  It’s the most important night of the year for the theater, as we get to show everyone what we’re about . . . and also why they should spend more time with us throughout the year.

So how did the show do this year?

Well, this just in . . . as I predicted, the early ratings numbers indicate that the Tony Awards delivered a 6.8, which is up 33% (!) from last year . . . and is the highest we’ve had in 15 years!

Mic drop #2!

And in my opinion, all those additional viewers (I wish we could find out how many were tuning into the Tonys for the first time ever) got one heck of a show, arguably one of the best I’ve seen.

And here were my Top 5 Moments of the Tony Awards that made this telecast extra special to me:

1.  The Host with the Most

Watching James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors years ago, I remember thinking, “Oh my god, we have a new Broadway star!”  And then, months before he was to star in Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, late night TV stole him right out from under us.  I shed a tear inside when that happened.  But you know what?  If we had to lose James Corden to TV only so he could come back and host the Tonys, well it was worth it.  Now we just have to hope the Academy Awards don’t steal him away.

2.  The Word of the Day is . . .

If you were playing a drinking game while watching the Tonys and had to do a shot every time someone said “Diversity,” you would have been plastered before Hamilton got their first award.  But what was great about this year’s Tonys was that diversity wasn’t just a word.  It was living and breathing on that stage . . . in the performances, in the nominees, in the winners, everywhere.  We’ve still got work to do . . . but as an industry we should be proud of what we’ve done, and the telecast painted a beautiful picture of all of the people who make Broadway the unique place that it is.

3.  From a 99 seat theater to the Tonys . . . 

It was only two years ago that the cast of Spring Awakening was performing in a basement black box theater in downtown Los Angeles . . . and now here they were, performing for the world.  I couldn’t have been prouder of their historic performance, and the message they were sending to the millions of people around the world tuning in.  While we didn’t win the award, in my opinion, we won a much bigger battle.  And I couldn’t be more thankful to the almost 2,000 people who helped make that performance possible.  Because without every single one of those people, it never would have happened.

4.  What the theater was designed to do.

When I saw the CNN Breaking News alert about the tragedy in Orlando when I woke up on Tony Sunday, I wondered how this would affect the telecast.  And then I remembered that this is what theater is all about.  It brings people together.  It gets people in a room.  It tells people they are not alone.  It honors. It consoles.  And it also entertains, so that in the darkest of circumstances, we can see that there will be light again.  The speech that opened the Tonys was actually pre-taped because James Corden so wanted to make sure it was right (as he told those of us in the theater right before he recorded it), and when he spoke his inspired words, you could feel the temperature in the theater drop from the chills we all got.

5.  Children will listen . . .

From the “This could be you!” opening number, to Blair Underwood’s kiss on the forehead of the Educator of the Year, to the numerous thank yous to teachers in acceptance speeches, to Josh Groban’s video turn as Tevye in high school, there was a real reach out to the youth of the world.  I know if I was a 13 year old girl who was interested in theater, I would have watched and been inspired to work harder to hope that one day I’d be standing on that stage.  Heck, I’m a 43 year old man, and it inspired me!  We know that not only are people more likely to participate in the arts later in life if they are get involved when they are kids, but more importantly we also know that people are much more likely to attend the arts if they are involved at a young age.  By reaching out to those kids directly (and the parents who have to drag those kids to the theater), the Tonys helped inspire the next generation of artists and audiences.


And now, what did you think of the telecast?

Let us know by filling out the survey below.  And we’ll publish the results right here on the blog in a few days.

Click here to take our Tony Award Telecast Survey now!

And stay tuned . . . the winner of our Tony Pool will be announced tomorrow!  (And it wasn’t me or my cute but Tony-challenged dog, that’s for sure.)


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  • Frank says:

    I enjoyed this years telecast, but it’s still too long. There are commercial breaks already built in, there is no need to have a host (and I thought the bits were really funny and entertaining) come out and waste another 3 or 4 minutes doing a bit before or after a commercial. Keep the ball rolling.

  • Richard says:

    Tony’s are a class act. Puts the Emmy to shame. . no egos. Even the wardrobes are no match.
    A very entertaining evening

  • Chris M says:

    One of my favorite lines, “The Tonys are the Super Bowl for people who don’t know what the Super Bowl is.” While I know exactly what the Super Bowl is I can honestly say I’ve never watched one while I have never missed the Tonys since they started broadcasting them – EVER. Terrific production.

  • RICK says:

    Ditto to what Richard said above!!
    ………….Tony’s are a class act. Puts the Emmy to shame. . no egos. Even the wardrobes are no match.
    A very entertaining evening

  • Donald jordan says:

    A terrific production of the Tonys this year. I have an idea for next year—-Bring back James Corden and ADD Neil Patrick Harris…and I disagree with the comment above, I wish they went another hour, perhaps with an intermission…they take as long as they take…I was very proud indeed that our American Theatre looks like our America…once again, the theatre (still, always) leads the way.

  • Randy says:

    While it was entertaining enough, I can’t help but still feel incredibly saddened and insulted on behalf of all the award categories deemed not “sexy” or “entertaining” enough to be given live. I mean, Sheldon Harnick, for crying out loud, one of our living legends, was relegated to a sound bite. Ridiculous. And the fact that plays have not been allowed to present scenes for years now is also infuriating. On its biggest night, theatre is bullied into dumbing itself down.

  • AnnW says:

    The broadcast is still too long. Maybe it should start earlier, so that more kids can watch it. I loved the opening number. I had never heard of James Corden until he was named the host of the Late Late Show. What a talent. It would be a good idea to advertise what time certain musical numbers are going to be shown. Then people will tune in, or stick around to see their favorites.
    I really, really liked the part about how Hamilton was written. It was fascinating. We need to see more segments like that. I’m glad you managed to get Spring Awakening on the show.

  • Norlan says:

    (The “60 Minutes” show interviewing Miranda about the writing of Hamilton was a great lead-in to the Tony’s show. What a terrific commentary on the power of Theatre to make history come alive again.)
    Neil Patrick Harris was great, but, James Corden was excellent. The opening number was brilliant and inspirational. Most of the performances were wonderful. I even enjoyed the outside tributes and teasers from the cast members. I agree that technical awards should be back in the show, and could have live presentations of costuming and etc. for the nominees, since most of them would be performing anyway. And for the fuddyduds with limited bladder control, the show was not too long! To the contrary, this show could have gone on much longer with more of Corden. Bravo for a wonderful evening!

  • Karin says:

    Most moving moment: Miranda’s sonnet for his wife and the victims of Orlando: “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love”!

  • Malini says:

    I loved all of it. It was my favorite to date and continue to get better every year. I agree that the diversity was incredible but it was the joy you can feel.

    This was exciting for me as I live tweet during the show. I thought I had more clever tweets but the LA Times apparently loved my Law and Order comment. That was my second favorite moment after James Cordon’s hosting.

  • Linus Goldsteinn says:

    “Oprah? Have I ruined the Tonys?”

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