The 70th Annual Tony Awards Changed My Life
Start writing a post

The 70th Annual Tony Awards Changed My Life

In the wake of senseless tragedy, theatre has stood in defiance of hate.

The 70th Annual Tony Awards Changed My Life
CBS New York

Since the time I knew that I wanted to be an actor, I always had this opinion that film and television were somehow a better form of performance art than theatre. I thought that film and television had more outlets to be creative, more ways to express the wildest ideas and bring them to life. In order to be a truly great piece of art, there always had to be a camera behind it.

Oh, to be young and naive.

Sunday night, I decided to tune into the 70th Annual Tony Awards, if only to see Hamilton sweep the musical categories. I came away with something so much more than the joy of seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda make a dozen acceptance speeches. This year's Tony Awards taught me about the impact theatre can have, not just on the people who perform, but the people who watch.

The timing could not have been worse for not only the most deadly mass shooting in American history, but the most repugnant hate crime on LGBT people I've been alive to see. It was very clear, as soon as the show started, that Orlando was heavy in the hearts of everyone in that theater. James Corden delivered a very sobering opening message, expressing solidarity with everyone in the Pulse Nightclub during the tragedy. "On behalf of the whole theatre community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity," he said, holding back tears. "All we can say is you are not on your own right now; your tragedy is our tragedy. Theatre is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved."

"Hate will never win," he added. "Together, we have to make sure of that."

That message served as a fuel for everyone who performed that night, and as a reality check for everyone who won that they are doing something important. Frank Langella, who won Best Leader Actor in a Play for The Father, said it best when he said, "When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. I urge you, Orlando, to be strong. I’m standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on earth, and we will be with you every step of the way.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda also took time to address the victims of the Orlando massacre, this time in the form of a sonnet:

...When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love and pride.

The Tonys dedicated the broadcast to those victims, but pride and solidarity wasn't the only prevailing theme. The Tonys also were a symbol of diversity. For the first time in the awards show's history, actors of color, from Hamilton and The Color Purple respectively, took every major award in the musical performance category. "Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity," James Corden quipped early on, but he was right. I sincerely hope that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was watching.

This broadcast was incredibly powerful amid such a tragedy as Orlando. Even the plays and musicals that didn't win, like Eclipsed and Waitress, seemed to have a fire beneath them as they were talked about and performed. In a time of hate and prejudice, in a time where a person like Donald Trump can possibly be considered to lead an entire country, theatre can bring forth a sense of unity, a sense of acceptance and togetherness.

That makes theatre the most beautiful art form I can think of, far more than film and television. While films are already filmed, with their emotions pre-proportioned, theatre bleeds passion eight nights a week. Theatre has much more room to take risks, to explore new things, and to make you feel different things. You can watch a film over and over again, and eventually the feeling you got from watching it for the first time will fade. Theatre, unless you have the means to see it more than once, is so effective because you only see it once. The men and women who perform have the ability to fall in love with their character every week they perform. Theatre has a larger sense of community and solidarity, something that we could all use, especially today.

This year's Tonys changed my life, not just as someone who hopes to take the industry by storm, but as a human being. I have a better understanding of this art, of how it runs through the veins of so many who need it to feel something. I'm glad I have that understanding, and I'm glad I was able to receive it during arguably the best year for theatre this century. As the Schuyler sisters would say, "Look around, look around/At how lucky we are to be alive right now!"

I look forward to carrying this newfound love and appreciation for theatre with me for the rest of my career. Maybe I'll end up being someone Lin-Manuel Miranda could be proud of.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

50 Iconic Quotes From 'The Golden Girls' That Will Always Make You Laugh

"People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass."


"The Golden Girls" created history when it first premiered in 1985 setting the stage of strong-willed female characters who are aging gracefully with dignity. It is a treasure trove filled with humorous scenes and situations that will always be relevant to watch. I still rejoice in watching these spectacular women embrace life with full stride and the way they always strive to focus on the brighter side of life.

These 4 dynamic and awe-inspiring women taught us that age is indeed nothing more than a number and that we can set out to accomplish anything our heart desires at any time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixaba

Unfortunately, the time is here. It is officially the spring semester, and you know what that means: lots and lots of studying. If you are in the same situation I am, then you are probably doing your 3rd semester of online/hybrid school. Not being at school or not attending classes in person definitely makes learning and studying a lot harder. Because I know this struggle all too well, I put together a list of study tips to hopefully help us all succeed a little more this semester.

Keep Reading... Show less

8 Valentine's Day Gift Ideas For Your Long-Distance Partner

Looking for a gift idea for your long-distance Valentine's date this year? Here are some creative, thoughtful gifts for you!

Photo by Ben Collins on Unsplash

As Valentine's Day approaches, I realized that it's the first Valentine's Day I have had with my boyfriend that we're more than 6,000 miles apart. Despite the distance though, my mind has been reeling over what to get him, as one of my main love languages is gift-giving. So here are some ideas that I've seen that I think would be perfect for any relationship, whether you're together or apart.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure how to write this article.

In the past, I've written about the lies we tell ourselves. I've written about how thoughts can be destructive, how they can have power over who we are.

Keep Reading... Show less

Put Down Your Phone And Read These 8 Statistics About Texting And Driving You Wish Didn't Exist

We text all the time, so it's no surprise you may find yourself wanting to pick up your phone even when you're driving.


You're driving to the grocery store when your phone buzzes in your pocket. You instinctively reach to check it, but it can wait until you park. These are eight statistics to read before you text and drive because they'll change how you view your time on the road.

Everyone's made the mistake of looking at their phone while in the driver's seat, but not everyone gets home safely afterward. Learn why it's better to avoid distracted driving so you don't become one of these statistics this year:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Have An Eating Disorder And I Refuse To Let It Kill Me

Even at my lowest, the number on the scale never seemed low enough... but was it ever worth the risk of losing my life?

Trigger warning: This article discusses topics that may be triggering for some readers.

I looked down at my thumb today. I know haven't been eating enough. I told everyone I would get all my vitamins and calories in. I totally wanted to eat more of the guacamole I bought the other day, but I counted what I had eaten and those numbers seemed a little too high. I decided I didn't need the extra helping, so I went to bed and the guacamole went bad.

Keep Reading... Show less

When pursuing a degree that most deem 'useless' or a 'waste of time' there happens to be a lot of self-doubt and fear, especially with the pending doom of graduation around the corner. I remember when I was about to graduate from college with a Bachelor's in Acting, I was absolutely terrified.

Keep Reading... Show less

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.


I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments