My Top 5 Favorite Moments of the 2016 Tony Awards.

And mic drop!

The 2016 Tony Awards is in the books!

Ironically, I think it was the most anticipated Tony Awards I’ve ever seen in my 23 years in the biz, even though we all knew who was going to win.  (I expect when we announce tomorrow’s Tony Pool winners, we’ll have some very high scores.)

But the Tonys are not only about giving out hunks of metal that allow agents to ask for more money for their clients.  The Tony Awards telecast is one giant long infomercial for what we all do here.  It’s the most important night of the year for the theater, as we get to show everyone what we’re about . . . and also why they should spend more time with us throughout the year.

So how did the show do this year?

Well, this just in . . . as I predicted, the early ratings numbers indicate that the Tony Awards delivered a 6.8, which is up 33% (!) from last year . . . and is the highest we’ve had in 15 years!

Mic drop #2!

And in my opinion, all those additional viewers (I wish we could find out how many were tuning into the Tonys for the first time ever) got one heck of a show, arguably one of the best I’ve seen.

And here were my Top 5 Moments of the Tony Awards that made this telecast extra special to me:

1.  The Host with the Most

Watching James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors years ago, I remember thinking, “Oh my god, we have a new Broadway star!”  And then, months before he was to star in Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, late night TV stole him right out from under us.  I shed a tear inside when that happened.  But you know what?  If we had to lose James Corden to TV only so he could come back and host the Tonys, well it was worth it.  Now we just have to hope the Academy Awards don’t steal him away.

2.  The Word of the Day is . . .

If you were playing a drinking game while watching the Tonys and had to do a shot every time someone said “Diversity,” you would have been plastered before Hamilton got their first award.  But what was great about this year’s Tonys was that diversity wasn’t just a word.  It was living and breathing on that stage . . . in the performances, in the nominees, in the winners, everywhere.  We’ve still got work to do . . . but as an industry we should be proud of what we’ve done, and the telecast painted a beautiful picture of all of the people who make Broadway the unique place that it is.

3.  From a 99 seat theater to the Tonys . . . 

It was only two years ago that the cast of Spring Awakening was performing in a basement black box theater in downtown Los Angeles . . . and now here they were, performing for the world.  I couldn’t have been prouder of their historic performance, and the message they were sending to the millions of people around the world tuning in.  While we didn’t win the award, in my opinion, we won a much bigger battle.  And I couldn’t be more thankful to the almost 2,000 people who helped make that performance possible.  Because without every single one of those people, it never would have happened.

4.  What the theater was designed to do.

When I saw the CNN Breaking News alert about the tragedy in Orlando when I woke up on Tony Sunday, I wondered how this would affect the telecast.  And then I remembered that this is what theater is all about.  It brings people together.  It gets people in a room.  It tells people they are not alone.  It honors. It consoles.  And it also entertains, so that in the darkest of circumstances, we can see that there will be light again.  The speech that opened the Tonys was actually pre-taped because James Corden so wanted to make sure it was right (as he told those of us in the theater right before he recorded it), and when he spoke his inspired words, you could feel the temperature in the theater drop from the chills we all got.

5.  Children will listen . . .

From the “This could be you!” opening number, to Blair Underwood’s kiss on the forehead of the Educator of the Year, to the numerous thank yous to teachers in acceptance speeches, to Josh Groban’s video turn as Tevye in high school, there was a real reach out to the youth of the world.  I know if I was a 13 year old girl who was interested in theater, I would have watched and been inspired to work harder to hope that one day I’d be standing on that stage.  Heck, I’m a 43 year old man, and it inspired me!  We know that not only are people more likely to participate in the arts later in life if they are get involved when they are kids, but more importantly we also know that people are much more likely to attend the arts if they are involved at a young age.  By reaching out to those kids directly (and the parents who have to drag those kids to the theater), the Tonys helped inspire the next generation of artists and audiences.


And now, what did you think of the telecast?

Let us know by filling out the survey below.  And we’ll publish the results right here on the blog in a few days.

Click here to take our Tony Award Telecast Survey now!

And stay tuned . . . the winner of our Tony Pool will be announced tomorrow!  (And it wasn’t me or my cute but Tony-challenged dog, that’s for sure.)


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.