The cast and crew of "Hamilton" arrive for the 2016 Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Reception in Manhattan, New York, US, May 4, 2016. (Reuters Photo/Andrew Kelly)

'Hamilton' Effect Expected to Swell TV Audience for 2016 Tony Awards

BY :CHRIS MICHAUD

JUNE 13, 2016

New York. The 2016 Tony Awards were generating more buzz than usual ahead of Sunday's ceremony, with all eyes on the musical "Hamilton," a pop culture phenomenon that was expected to take the lion's share of honors at Broadway's annual salute to itself.

"Hamilton," with its record-setting 16 nominations, tells the story of ill-fated U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton with a deft melding of hip-hop and rap, R&B, ballads and traditional Broadway showstoppers. The show is considered shoo-in for Best Musical, the top award.

But an attack on an Orlando, Florida gay club early on Sunday morning that killed 50 people and injured 53 others was sure to cast a pall over the festivities.

"Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando," the event organizers said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them."

Before the attack, the 70th annual Tony Awards, airing on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), had been expected to reverse a recent slide in TV ratings, as both "Hamilton" devotees as well as people who have simply heard the fanfare boost interest.

The show's success has played a big part in a record-breaking Broadway season, including attendance of 13.3 million and $1.37 billion in sales.

"'Hamilton' has had an amazing effect on this season," said Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, which runs the annual awards presentation along with The Broadway League.

Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, expects Hamilton's impact to persist, even though its star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will leave the show on July 9.

"A rising tide lifts all ships," she said. "I don't think there's any doubt that 'Hamilton' will be doing that."

The musical, the most talked-about since "The Producers" in 2001, has legions of fans who have never seen a moment of it beyond televised snippets. Tickets sell out months in advance as they become available. Prime seats on the secondary market fetch thousands of dollars.

In a year when the Oscars drew criticism for lacking non-white nominees, the Tonys, led by "Hamilton"'s multi-cultural cast, stand rich with diversity, which could also boost viewership.

Late-night TV host and Tony winner James Corden will head up the three-hour telecast.

Despite the excitement, "Hamilton" appears unlikely to equal "The Producers" with its record 12 wins.

Beyond Best Musical, "Hamilton" is favored for best book and score, both for Miranda, as well as the Tonys for featured actor and actress and best director. It is also likely to win costumes, lighting and orchestrations, Broadway watchers say.

Miranda, as Hamilton, is vying for Best Actor in a Musical but faces stiff competition from co-star Leslie Odom Jr. as nemesis Aaron Burr. Both are in a horse race with Broadway veteran Danny Burstein in the well-received "Fiddler on the Roof" revival.

Other likely winners on Sunday include Jessica Lange, poised to win her first Tony as morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey into Night," Frank Langella, playing an Alzheimer's-afflicted patriarch in "The Father," and Cynthia Erivo, star of "The Color Purple," also favored to win Best Musical Revival.

The family drama "The Humans" is the clear Best Play frontrunner.

For its 70th birthday, the Tonys will boast appearances by powerhouse stars including Barbra Streisand, Cate Blanchett and Oprah Winfrey, who may collect an award as a "Color Purple" producer.

 

Factbox: Nominees in key categories for Broadway's Tony Awards

The Tony Awards, American theater's highest honors, will be handed out on Sunday at the Beacon Theater in New York.

The following is a list of nominees in major categories:

 

Best musical:

"Hamilton"

"School of Rock - the Musical"

"Bright Star"

"Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed"

"Waitress"

 

Best play:

"Eclipsed" by Danai Gurira

"The Father" by Florian Zeller

"The Humans" by Stephen Karam

"King Charles III" by Mike Bartlett

 

Best revival of a musical:

"She Loves Me"

"Fiddler on the Roof"

"Spring Awakening"

"The Color Purple"

 

Best revival of a play:

"Blackbird"

"Long Day's Journey Into Night"

"Arthur Miller's The Crucible"

"Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge"

 

Best performance by a leading actress in a musical:

Laura Benanti, "She Loves Me"

Carmen Cusack, "Bright Star"

Cynthia Erivo, "The Color Purple"

Jessie Mueller, "Waitress"

Phillipa Soo, "Hamilton"

 

Best performance by a leading actor in a musical:

Alex Brightman, "School of Rock - The Musical"

Danny Burstein, "Fiddler on the Roof"

Zachary Levi, "She Loves Me"

Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Hamilton"

Leslie Odom Jr., "Hamilton"

 

Best performance by a leading actress in a play:

Jessica Lange, "Long Day's Journey into Night"

Laurie Metcalf, "Misery"

Lupita Nyong'o, "Eclipsed"

Sophie Okonedo, "Arthur Miller's The Crucible"

Michelle Williams, "Blackbird"

 

Best performance by a leading actor in a play:

Gabriel Byrne, "Long Day's Journey Into Night

Jeff Daniels, "Blackbird"

Frank Langella, "The Father"

Tim Pigott-Smith, "King Charles III"

Mark Strong, "Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge"

 

Best book of a musical:

"Bright Star"

"Hamilton"

"School of Rock - the Musical"

"Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed"

 

Best original score:

"Bright Star"

"Hamilton"

"School of Rock - the Musical"

"Waitress"

 

Best choreography:

"Hamilton"

"Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed"

"Fiddler on the Roof"

"Dames at Sea"

"On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan"

Reuters

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