How To Top a Tony-Winning Year
The 2016 winners talk about their new goals for 2017, now that they’ve got the statue on the mantle.
This past year was a momentous one for Broadway. On several occasions, the theatre community used its platform to show its support, educate, or comment on world events. It’s not surprising then, that the 2016 Tony Awards (the 70th Annual ceremony) were just as ground-breaking. Hamilton continued to demonstrate its cultural significance by sweeping almost every award it was nominated for, and for the first time, four black actors took home the Best Actor awards in the musical theatre category. With such a year behind them, we asked this year’s Tony winners how they plan to tackle 2017, plus an update on where to find them next.
Cynthia Erivo: Winner for Best Actress in a Musical (Celie, The Color Purple)
“I guess the goal is to experience more things that challenge me as an actress and to really fully embrace what I am as a musician. I'm an ambitious creature so my arms are open to a lot of things, things that I'm working on that might even surprise you. It's an extremely exciting time and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. To be nominated for a Grammy is pretty incredible and quite frankly that's enough to keep me going for a little while.....at least for now.“
For her next project, the breakout star is set to join Tony winner Viola Davis in the new feature film Widows, directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).
Leslie Odom, Jr.: Winner for Best Actor in a Musical (Aaron Burr, Hamilton)
“We’ll welcome our newest family member this spring! And Murder on the Orient Express will be out next winter. Goals include trying to be better than I was last year. Always.“
Since leaving Hamilton, the Tony winner has been working on his solo career as a recording artist and recently released an album of Christmas songs. He is next slated to appear in the Kenneth Branagh–helmed Murder on the Orient Express remake. Odom, Jr. and his wife, actor Nicolette Robinson, are currently living in London where they are expecting their first child.
READ MORE: WHY LESLIE ODOM, JR. LOVES LIFE AS A RECORDING ARTIST
Renée Elise Goldsberry: Winner for Best Featured in Actress in a Musical (Angelica Schuyler, Hamilton)
“I am not trying to beat it. I am trying to use it. For greater access to the telling of other great stories. And to give more people access to the stories that I write. I feel free of any need to top myself. There is no height you can reach that will end that game. So I don’t play it. But I do feel the need to be responsible with a gift. So many people were worthy of the 2016 Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical, but the Lord chose to give it to me. How am I going to use this platform? A few more people are tuned into me than before...What am I saying that is worth their ear? That is the challenge I accept, for 2017 and beyond…“
Since leaving Hamilton September 3, Goldsberry went straight to shooting the title role in the film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO, followed by a regular role in the new Netflix series Altered Carbon.
Daveed Diggs: Winner for Best Featured in Actor in a Musical (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton)
Since leaving Hamilton this summer, Diggs has lined-up a series of impressive screen projects. He joined season three of the TV series Black-ish, was cast in the new HBO comedy Tour de Pharmacy alongside Andy Samberg, Murray Miller, and Phylicia Rashad, and will star opposite Julia Roberts in the Stephen Chbosky-helmed film Wonder. The Tony winner is also set to executive produce a new show on ABC about a hip-hop artist who becomes a mayor.
Jessica Lange: Winner for Best Actress in a Play (Mary Tyrone, Long Days Journey Into Night)
Two-time Oscar winner Lange is currently filming the TV series Feud, in which she stars as Joan Crawford. The show details the legendary rivalry between Crawford and Bette Davis, played by Susan Sarandon.
Frank Langella: Winner of Best Actor in a Play (André, The Father)
In addition to winning his fourth Tony Award this year, the stage and screen star played a recurring role in the Golden Globe-nominated series The Americans, as well as a lead role in the Matt Ross film Captain Fantastic, tapped to be a favorite at the 2017 Academy Awards.
Jayne Houdyshell: Winner of Best Featured Actress in a Play (Dierdre Blake, The Humans
“Receiving the honor of a 2016 Tony Award was, for me, a moment of profound joy and gratitude. But in 2017, to see Donald Trump impeached for innumerable improprieties would be worth 1,000 Tony Awards.“
Tony winner Houdyshell has over nine Broadway credits. Following the conclusion of The Humans, she will star in Lucas Hnath’s A Dolls House, Part 2 directed by Sam Gold in the spring.
Reed Birney: Winner for Best Featured Actor in a Play (Erik Blake, The Humans)
“My goal for 2017, after all the glory of 2016, is to try and come close to having a theatrical experience like I have had this year in The Humans. The laughs, the camaraderie, the thrill of the work. Perfection. I will say, Man from Nebraska at Second Stage is a real possibility for making my goal come true!“
Directly following the conclusion of The Humans on Broadway January 15, 2017, Birney will star in the New York premiere of Tracy Letts’ Man from Nebraska at Second Stage Theatre, directed by David Cromer.
Stephen Karam: Winner for Best Play (The Humans)
“The goal is always the same: It’s to try and tell the stories that are trying to get out of me—the ones that come from my heart, and my gut. Those are the ones that have the best chance of connecting with other people. You’re always figuring out how to write the play you’re writing, so in a way, it’s about tuning out the last thing you did and really focusing on what means the most to you [now].”
Karam has penned the screenplays for two films slated to be released in 2017: an adaptation of his play Speech & Debate, and an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull starring Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, and Elisabeth Moss, directed by Michael Mayer.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Winner for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score (Hamilton)
Miranda has not taken pause since the success of Hamilton on Broadway. The multi-award-winning actor, composer, and producer released the chart-topping Hamilton Mixtape, is set to star in the film Mary Poppins Returns, composed music for the Disney blockbuster Moana, and is behind the film and TV adaptations of the best-selling novel of The Kingkiller Chronicle.
Alex Lacamoire: Winner for Best Orchestrations (Hamilton)
“The goal for 2017 (and every other year after that) is to keep working on projects that are fresh and exciting and musically fulfilling. The best part of my job is that I get to collaborate with artists who have something powerful to say; may I continue to be surrounded by those who inspire me to create.“
The Tony and Grammy-winning music supervisor is currently working on the new hit musical on Broadway, Dear Evan Hansen.
Ivo van Hove: Winner for Best Direction of a Play (A View from the Bridge)
He tops his Tony simply: “To treat every new production with the urgency as if it is the last one.”
After the success of A View From the Bridge, Ivo van Hove returned to Broadway in 2016 with an acclaimed revival of The Crucible. The director, who has developed a reputation for making cutting-edge theatre, has a busy year ahead of him. London’s Barbican Theatre has offered a four-play residency to his Dutch company Toneelgroep Amsterdam, for which he will direct the world premiere of Obsession, based on the 1943 film Ossessione by Luchino Visconti, starring Jude Law.
Thomas Kail: Winner for Best Direction of a Musical (Hamilton)
In addition to winning his first Tony Award this year, Kail took home the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing of a Variety Special for his direction of Grease: Live. Following the success of the televised musical, the director signed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television and will develop, supervise and potentially direct TV projects both for broadcast and cable. The Tony winner was also at the helm of the acclaimed Off-Broadway productions Dry Powder, Daphne’s Dive, and Tiny Beautiful Things.
Andy Blankenbuehler: Winner for Best Choreography (Hamilton)
Since wrapping up work on Hamilton, Blankenbuehler moved on to the London transfer of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats on Broadway. He also worked on the film musical re-imagining of the 1987 cult classic Dirty Dancing, directed by Wayne Blair and slated to be released this year. In the spring, his production of the musical Bandstand, which he directs and choreographs, will arrive on Broadway starring Laura Osnes and Corey Cott.
David Zinn: Winner for Best Scenic Design of a Play (The Humans)
“My goal for 2017? To do everything in my power to keep people safe during the Trump administration, which I believe is going to bring about sustained and massive attacks on vulnerable communities all over our country—artists, queers, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, the poor. We are going to have to fight for our lives and that is the only thing I care about as 2017 dawns—educating myself, arming myself with knowledge and compassion and righteous fury. I think artists in particular are well-suited to this fight—we're smart, we can organize, and as theatre artists in New York we have a platform and a voice. Let's use that. (Also, frankly, it would be nice if my cats could pay a little attention to my Tony Award on the shelf—they just totally walk right by it and pay it NO ATTENTION, which....c’mon fellas.)“
Zinn also has two major Broadway shows lined-up for 2017: Lucas Hnath and Sam Gold’s A Dolls House, Part 2, and Amélie, the new musical starring Phillipa Soo.
David Rockwell: Winner for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (She Loves Me)
“The thing you have to focus on is the work. The award was fabulous, it was a thrilling moment for me, but I’ve been working long enough to know that recognition comes at unexpected times, so you have to focus on doing the work. I’ve just finished Falsettos, which is the simplest thing I’ve ever designed but in many ways very powerful.”
Rockwell had been nominated for five Tony Awards for Scenic Design on Broadway before winning this year’s prize.
Natasha Katz: Winner for Best Lighting Design of a Play (Long Day’s Journey into Night)
2016 marked Katz’s sixth Tony win, and her third year in a row winning for lighting design (An American in Paris, and The Glass Menagerie preceded). In 2017, Katz will be the lighting designer on the anticipated revival of Hello, Dolly!
Howell Binkley: Winner for Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Hamilton)
“It was a great honor to be among the 2016 recipients. I am honored to be collaborating with some incredible creatives in the 2017 season!“
Two-time Tony winner Binkley has done the lighting for three more Broadway shows since wrapping up work on Hamilton: Allegiance, Cirque Du Soleil Paramour, and A Bronx Tale. Next year, he will be the lighting designer for the new musical Come from Away, set to open on Broadway in March.
Clint Ramos: Winner for Best Costume Design of a Play (Eclipsed)
“My goal for 2017 is to continue striving for excellence and pursue unblinking interpretations of work that would be more meaningful to today’s world—to align myself to projects that matter. To constantly remind myself and collaborators about why we do theatre. A big goal of mine is to amp up my advocacy even more and recommit myself more to the causes I am already deeply passionate about which are immigration, diversity and equal rights. 2017 is the year I clearly put activist first in the ‘artist vis-à-vis activist’ continuum.“
Ramos has designed sets and/or costumes for over a hundred productions in theatre, opera and dance. He is currently represented on Broadway by the new musical In Transit.
Paul Tazewell: Winner for Best Costume Design of a Musical (Hamilton)
“Because I received my first Tony for the phenomenal show Hamilton, I am content with the fact that this Tony un-top-able.“
The costume designer was also the winner of a 2016 Primetime Emmy for his work on The Wiz Live! and recently worked on the TV film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Tazewell was nominated for five Tony Awards for Costume Design on Broadway before winning this year’s prize.