The 70th Annual Tony Awards were held on June 12, 2016, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2015–16 season. The ceremony temporarily returned to the Beacon Theatre in New York City after three years at Radio City Music Hall and was broadcast live by CBS. James Corden served as host.
Hamilton received a record-setting 16 nominations in 13 categories, winning 11 total. The revival of The Color Purple won two awards. The Humans won four awards, and the revival productions of plays Long Day's Journey into Night and A View from the Bridge each won two awards.
Shows that opened on Broadway during the 2015–2016 season before April 28, 2016, were eligible for consideration.
The Tony Award nominations were announced on May 3, 2016, by Nikki M. James and Andrew Rannells.
Hamilton garnered 16 nominations—the most received by any Broadway production to date. Following Hamilton, the season's most-nominated shows included Shuffle Along with 10 nominations and the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of She Loves Me with eight. The revival of Long Day's Journey into Night—also produced by Roundabout—received seven nominations. New plays Eclipsed and The Humans both received six nominations.
The 2015–16 season marked the first time since 1960 and the fourth time in history that five shows had been nominated for Best Musical.
The annual Meet the Nominees Press Reception took place on May 4, 2016, at the Paramount Hotel. The annual Nominees Luncheon took place on May 19, 2016 at the Paramount Hotel. A toast honoring the season's Creative Arts nominees was held at the Lambs Club on May 24, 2016. A private reception and cocktail party was held on June 6, 2016, at the Paramount Hotel's Diamond Horseshoe to honor the recipients of the season's Tony Honors for Excellence.
The ceremony was dedicated in honor of victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, which had occurred earlier that morning. Corden addressed the shooting in a speech at the beginning of the telecast, stating "All we can say is that you are not on your own right now, your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win." Winners Lin-Manuel Miranda and Frank Langella also addressed the shooting in their acceptance speeches. Miranda read a sonnet that he had written, which included the passage "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love; Cannot be killed or swept aside." In respect toward the victims of the shooting, the cast of Hamilton dropped the use of muskets from their performance of "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" at the ceremony.
The ceremony's presenters included:
The following shows performed on the ceremony's telecast:
Performances that were introduced by individuals who had a relationship with the show included: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell for Bright Star; Oprah Winfrey for The Color Purple; Josh Groban for Fiddler on the Roof; Emilio Estefan for On Your Feet!; Andrew Lloyd Webber for School of Rock; Meg Ryan for She Loves Me; Marlee Matlin for Spring Awakening; and Keri Russell for Waitress. President Obama and Michelle Obama, in a recorded appearance, spoke of seeing the beginnings of Hamilton at the White House. The ceremony also featured a special tribute performance in honor of the 20-year anniversary of the revival production of the musical Chicago, featuring Bebe Neuwirth and company.
The opening number, “That Could Be Me/This Could Be You,” was created by host Corden and Gary Barlow, consisting of snippets from many musicals with Corden and the ensemble replicating shows such as Les Misérables, The Lion King, and ending with 42nd Street. During the ceremony, outside the Beacon Theatre, cast members of nominated shows and other nominees performed brief performance excerpts of iconic shows in the Broadway canon, ranging from The Phantom of the Opera to Annie to Rent. The show closed with the cast of Hamilton performing "The Schuyler Sisters".
The 2016 Tony Honors for Excellence were awarded to voice coach Joan Lader, attorney Seth Gelblum, and Sally Ann Parsons, owner of the costume shop Parsons-Meares. Lyricist Sheldon Harnick and Circle Repertory Company founder Marshall W. Mason received Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement. The National Endowment for the Arts and Miles Wilkin, COO and executive vice president of Key Brand Entertainment, received the season's Special Tony Awards. Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey received the Regional Theatre Tony Award. Brian Stokes Mitchell was named as recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award for his work with the Actors Fund. The season's Excellence in Theatre Education Award was awarded to drama teacher Marilyn McCormick of Cass Technical High School in Detroit.
Sources: Playbill; The New York Times; The Guardian
‡ The award is presented to the producer(s) of the musical or play.3: Lin-Manuel Miranda; Jan Versweyveld
2: Steve Martin; Justin Townsend; George C. Wolfe