I only realised I would be in the US for the Tony Awards fairly recently (cue feeling like a bad thespian). But as soon as I did, I decided that if I couldn’t be sitting in the Beacon Theatre itself, I would take advantage of the fact that I could watch it live rather than following live tweets at 2am, or watching highlights the next morning (I salute all my friends and people in the UK who did, I seriously do). Not only was I able to watch it live, but my amazing sister also set up a projector in her dorm living room so that we could get a real American super-size experience.
And -to start the theatre puns off early- Oh what a night! It was the most inspired that I have done since watching Pippin on Broadway in Summer 2013 (surprise, surprise!). Broadway has a very special place in my heart and my mind, and being able to watch the ceremony live in the states felt like an amazing indication that all things are aligning in a magical way. It was like three hours of having all dreams and ideas validated by a group of people of all ages, races, and genders in a room filled with lights, music, and revolution. I wouldn’t have had it any other way (apart maybe from sitting in the Beacon itself…I mean the seat next to Oprah looked pretty cosy :D)
From the hilarious and endearing opening number, to watching POC sweep the musical theatre acting performance board (including an actress from the UK – congratulations Cynthia Erivo!), to watching older actors win for the first time after a career spanning 4 decades, last night’s Tony’s cemented some major truths:
1. A career in this crazy business has to be centred on THE JOURNEY. It took over 6 years for Hamilton to get from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s magnificent brain to the page, to infinity, and now beyond. And as a performer, to see all the acting performance awards won by actors over the age of 60 -as well as a 45(!!)yo Renée Elise Goldsberry in the MT category- proved to me again that this career really is a marathon, and that if you are willing -and maybe just a bit crazy enough- to keep running, the experiences you pick up on the way (Tonys or not – as a presenter pointed out very rightly, “No-one at the Tonys is a loser’) will be one, if not several, of the reminders of we offered our souls to the world every day.
2. FAITH AND LOVE on this journey, and in this life, both for yourself and community you are surrounded by, are the things that will steady this path whenever the road is clouded by doubt, fear, and unappealing day jobs. It was encouraging to see the award winners not sugar-coat some of the struggles that got them to where they stood now.
3. When the right opportunities are presented, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It only takes one shot. One shot -that is most probably the result of many shots- to show the world what we are capable of as artists. Last night showed me that this business is not only about seizing opportunities, but also about creating them for yourself and the people around you.
Thank you to the people that create this work, the people that put it all together, and the people that interpret it day after day to audiences across the world, under all circumstances. Thank you to artists in every disciple of the theatre. To the rule-breakers, the game-changers, the history-makers. To everyone working on manifesting their dreams. Thank you for helping me continue to create and to continue to push myself towards my own goals as an artist. I can only keep working to one day be in the room where it happened.
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride. – Lin-Manuel Miranda