Bette Midler Defies Play-Off Music in Tony Acceptance Speech

The musical "Dear Evan Hansen", about a boy who gets caught up in a lie after the death of a classmate, was awarded Best New Musical.

Speaking back stage, she took the chance to pay tribute to her former speech and drama teachers, Myrna Ishimoto and Betty Blake Rice. "Groundhog Day The Musical", the adaptation of the popular film, was nominated but took home no shiny statues.

Midler said she had a "very tough schedule" but the experience had been "life-affirming and life-changing".

"Come From Away" star Jenn Colella lost the best featured actress in a musical Tony to Rachel Bay Jones of "Dear Evan Hansen", while choreographer Kelly Devine lost to Andy Blankenbuehler for "Bandstand".

Alex Lacamoire is the first person to win Best Orchestrations two years in a row - for "Dear Evan Hansen" this year and "Hamilton" last year - since Doug Besterman in 2001 ("The Producers") and 2002 ("Thoroughly Modern Millie").

And we're not going to pretend it was the most inspiring speech of the night, or even the most logical.

Kevin Kline, while accepting the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "Present Laughter", pointedly thanked the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, "a couple of organizations without whom probably half of the people in this room would not be here".

The show also lost out on the best lighting design of a musical award to Bradley King of "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812". The show won Best Musical, and Pasek and Paul won Best Score.

Dressed in a form-fitted silver-studded gown, the Hocus Pocus star went on and on, thanking a plethora of people, and claiming her Broadway experience on Hello, Dolly! has been one of the best in her career. "Hello, Dolly!" won four, including best musical revival and best featured actor for Broadway veteran Gavin Creel.

She's a Tony Award-winner. Instead, he donned a tux and presented the award for best revival - but spent most of his time opining on political theater instead.

Once the music stopped, Midler continued her speech. Come From Away, the Canadian musical won just one: for best direction, by Christopher Ashley. Some award winners, such as Nixon and Rebecca Taichman, who took home the trophy for Best Play Directing for her work on "Indecent", a play looking at an obscenity case bringing about the arrest of a troupe of actors. He really got into character (as Evan Hansen) well, and left everybody in awe of his talent as an overall performer.

  • Leroy Wright