The biggest surprise at this year’s Tony Awards was that there weren’t any surprises.
Whereas last year threw some curveballs our way, this year the final tally matched up precisely with the predictions made by Variety (and a lot of other outlets, too). That gave everyone on Broadway plenty to celebrate, from the first win for an actor who uses a wheelchair to a ceremony that pushed for even greater diversity and inclusion — but it also gave pundits a little less to talk about after the curtain came down. Still, there were a handful of snubs and surprises to be found in the night’s proceedings. Here they are.
SURPRISE: “The Boys in the Band”
Variety predicted this one would win, but in the days prior to the ceremony, it still seemed a crapshoot. The starry revival of “The Waverly Gallery” — which scored a Tony for Elaine May — put up a formidable fight for the trophy, as did the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “All My Sons.” In the end, the 50th anniversary revival of Mart Crowley’s landmark drama claimed the prize, abetted by a big-name cast (which included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer) and a production (directed by Joe Mantello) that found as much humor as heartbreak in this pre-Stonewall snapshot of gay life in Manhattan.
SNUB: “What The Constitution Means to Me”
Look, we all expected Sam Mendes’ meticulously constructed, masterfully staged production of “The Ferryman” to win the award for new play. But a lot of Broadway watchers had their fingers crossed that “Constitution,” Heidi Schreck’s smart, moving, topical memoir-cum-constitutional-debate, would pull off an upset. It didn’t.
SURPRISE: Jez Butterworth’s improvisation
Industry types who attended the Tony Awards dress rehearsal Sunday morning know “Ferryman” playwright Jez Butterworth had prepped a staid speech about his play for the telecast. But in the ceremony itself, the author went off book, turning his “Ferryman” segment into a tribute to Laura Donnelly, the Tony-nominated star of “Ferryman” (and the mother of his two children) whose real-life family history inspired the drama set in Ireland during the time of the Troubles.
SNUB: “The Prom”
“Hadestown” and “Tootsie” were considered the frontrunners for the new musical award, but musical comedy “The Prom” had become a sentimental favorite for many in the industry, thanks to a storyline that lovingly skewered Broadway as it preached a heartwarming message of acceptance. In the end, the musical walked away empty-handed — but, silver lining: its segment on the Tony telecast was strong enough that it seems sure to boost sales.