While I spent most of the night crying over those HISTORIC Tony wins, once the tears subsided I had a come to Jesus moment. Although this has been the most exciting and dazzling Broadway season yet, I can’t help but notice some shows didn’t fare as well as expected. So here are a few snubs that happened at the 2016 Tony Awards!
SNUB: Shuffle Along went away empty handed, yes even in choreography.
I mean sure, we all guessed that it would be #Hamiltonys, but I didn’t quite expect it to sweep in every category that it did. While Hamilton deserves all the acclaim because it truly lives up to the hype, there is one category I am not ashamed to be salty about- Best Choreography. To quote Yeezy the Great, “Hamilton, I’m gonna let you finish, but Shuffle Along had the greatest choreography of all time– ALL TIME.” I mean the tapping is out of this world, the opening number the Shuffle Along cast did for The Tonys didn’t even show all that it is capable of. The ensemble of Shuffle Along is the most talented bunch of dancers I’ve seen in a very long time, especially of the 2015-2016 season. Not to discredit Blankenbuehler in any way, it’s just that most industry insiders figured since Ham was destined to win everything else, Savion Glover had a huge shot in this category. I guess the Tony voters didn’t think so. Way to throw away your shot. In another season, Shuffle Along would have taken this, but that Hamilton reign just won’t let up.
SHOCKER: The President and First Lady Introducing Hamilton
Like, WHAT?! Sure it was via satellite, but they were still in the room where it happened. Of course, the only way to top Oprah introducing your show is to have the President of the United States, Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introduce you. Just rude, Ham.
SNUB: No Tony for Pascale Armand or Saycon Sengbloh
Despite both actresses being in the same category and what was a sure bet that one of them would take it, the Humans’ Jayne Houdyshell took home the trophy. Eclipsed did have tough competition in most of the categories, but this one we figured was a shoe in for one of our favorite Broadway Black actresses. But there is always a silver lining, these talented actresses have a bright future ahead of them and they’ll surely get one down the road. Likewise for director Liesl Tommy. And I’m sure Danai Gurira is only getting started. They did manage a win for Best Costume Design of a Play.
SHOCKER BUT NOT REALLY: Audra McDonald High Kicking and Tap Dancing While Pregnant
I know, I KNOW. Just because a woman is pregnant doesn’t mean that life stops. I know this, I KNOW THIS. Still there is something magical about watching Queen Audra McDonald tap her heart out. And sing like the angel she is. And then that high kick. And then remembering that SHE’S PREGNANT TOO. Come on Audra! Stop setting the bar so high for the rest of us. But then again don’t stop, because you continue to slay and keep everyone else on their toes. For example, me going to a gym after being allergic to it for 4 years, now when I go I will ask myself W.W.A.D and remember that high kick on June 12th.
Sound off below. What were some of the biggest snubs and shockers for you?
#ObamaLegacy: 8 Broadway Moments of President and First Lady Obama
In the final stretch of President Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency and in honor of his and First Lady Michelle Obama’s involvement and love for the Broadway community, Broadway Black looks back on the First Family’s top eight moments dedicated to the theatre:
1) The Birth of Hamilton
On May 12, 2009, the First Family hosted the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word in celebration of America’s poetry culture. Artists such as Esperanza Spalding and James Earl Jones lent their voices to the evening, the latter performing a monologue from Othello. However, no act that night would be as memorable as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s preview of The Hamilton Mixtape, based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. That performance of the opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” would evolve into the groundbreaking Broadway phenomenon Hamilton, which earned 11 Tonys, a Grammy, the Pulitzer, and two #1 albums on Billboard.
2) Obamas Crash the 2016 Tony Awards
The Obamas came full circle with Hamilton when, in a surprise appearance via satellite, they introduced the cast’s performance at the 2016 Tony Awards. The pair recounted Miranda’s visit to the White House’s poetry jam and their uncertainty about his project about the founding father “who embodies hip hop.”
3) Michelle Obama Hosts Broadway Shines a Light on Girls’ Global Education
In March 2015, the First Lady launched the Let Girls Learn initiative, which sought to address the challenges young girls face that would prevent them from achieving a quality education and reaching their full potential. Last September, Michelle and Stephen Colbert hosted an event at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre, which featured a range of performances from Broadway shows including The Color Purple, Waitress, and Wicked.
4) A Celebration of American Creativity
In 2015, President Obama and FLOTUS hosted an all-star music tribute commemorating the 50th anniversary of National Foundation On the Arts and the Humanities Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The evening included Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald performing “Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime, the show that earned McDonald a Tony.
5) #Bam4Ham: Obama Freestyles with Lin-Manuel Miranda
During peak-Hamilton, the Obamas invited local students and the cast of Hamilton to the White House for a daylong celebration of the arts. Dubbed #Bam4Ham, the event included workshops, a Q&A session, and performances by the cast. Of course, our President couldn’t resist participating in a freestyle with the musical’s award-winning composer, which would reference Obamacare, The Federalist Papers, and NASA. This visit would also be featured in the PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America.”
6) Obama Presents Audra McDonald with the National Medal of Arts
In late September of 2016, the President presented McDonald with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for achievements in the arts. Pregnant at the time, the six-time Tony Award winner stood grinning as the announcer struggled to find her citation; “I can make up a citation if you want,” Obama quipped.
7) Michelle Celebrates TLC’s Broadway at the White House
True to her spirit and legacy, the First Lady never gave up an opportunity to promote the growth and education of the youth, especially when it came to the arts. With hosts Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth, she invited 40 students from public high schools and after-school programs to participate in a series of masterclasses and workshops dedicated to various production aspects of theatre. The event, which later aired on Thanksgiving of 2015 on TLC, featured performances from Fun Home, Finding Neverland, On Your Feet, and Bobbi MacKenzie of School of Rock. We can’t get over that “proud mama” moment at 4:45 either.
8) Obama: 1, Ticket-Scalpers: 0
Long before the rise in popularity and demand of a certain blockbuster musical, the dreaded ticket-scalpers were the bane of any concert- or theatre-goer’s existence. With a ticket bot, any person could purchase a huge number of tickets, in the time it takes the average buyer to find the calendar feature on the ticketing site, and resell them at a much higher price.
Tickets for Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr.’s, final performance sold as high as $10,900 a seat. Mind you, the average face value of a ticket at the time was $189. Many unsuspecting patrons have even fallen victim to fake ticketing schemes, including billionaire Chris Sacca of “Shark Tank” fame.
Early last December, the President signed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, prohibiting “the circumvention of control measures used by Internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events,” a bill which Ticketmaster helped develop.
To the First Family,
The Broadway theatre community — Broadway Black — cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done to help embrace, shape, and protect the future of this art form.
The Importance Of Broadway Black Royalty At #BWAY4BLM
Photo by Lelund Durond for Broadway Black
The Broadway For Black Lives Matter electric sensation felt at the Roone Arledge Auditorium at Columbia University this past Monday was undeniably an authentic result of the power of unity. It was arguably one of the few spaces, if not the first, where Broadway stars, fans, music icons, and social justice advocates all joined together to discuss a plan for change in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement. This event confirmed the importance of Broadway Black royalty at BWAY4BLM, operating as our key ingredient to the formula needed for change.
It is no secret that we all have something distinct to offer mankind. What we love to do and who we are explains this philanthropy quite well. That might be the ability to bring people together through music, playing an instrument or singing, and another by the ability to unify others with an inspirational speech or dance, or expression of ideas in a panel discussion. Either way, by opening a discussion between these parties, we are able to stress the importance of everyone working together by bringing their most prized and honorable feature to an event like BWAY4BLM.
With that in mind, I have been reimagining Ledisi’s rendition of the timeless “A Change Is Gonna Come” (by Sam Cooke), all week long. Her triumphant attitude paired with the audience’s irresistible hand raising and forceful movements was simply a transfer of energy. She imparted her power, success, and royalty to every person who tuned in. In fact, all of our participants added their respective talent as a contribution for change in an atmosphere that makes our idea of an equal society more tangible.
These voices: Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Cynthia Erivo, India.Arie, Billy Porter, Ledisi, and Professor Frank Roberts have bridged the gap between people unconnected (for their own personal reasons) to the BLM movement. They’ve immersed the people who are uninvolved, uninterested, or unmoved by the countless deaths of innocent Black citizens in the discourse of human rights.
Our royalty has made the discourse of Black inclusion a coherent one, which was indigenous to their artistry. And as the art separately in its own division affects the non-supporters of the movement, so does the social platform for justice. That is because the platform is inherent to the artist, which is to say that they’ve skillfully justified Black Lives Matter in front of these uninterested crowds by solely intending to produce art. The same voice/s heard among a wide and diverse population has proven worthy and strong to the point of advocating for change. And during the time of the event, and before, even, our heroes named royalty used their success as a mode of education and communication toward ignorant US citizens who only set out to revere and respect their art.
The idea of opening up conversation and providing as many outlets and opportunities for viewership, involvement, and reflection is invaluable and could not have been done without individuals who are already admired for their accomplishments thus far. Our efforts in organizing this event has traveled far outside the country, beyond the four walls, into the homes of white music fans, and musical theatre kids, producers, journalists, professors, stage managers, make up artists and stylists, script consultants, presidents, colleagues, accountants, and any professional with connections to our artists. We offer our deepest thanksgiving to the commitment of our bold, beautiful, Broadway Black royalty, and on behalf of the team, thank you.