NEW YORK -- The American, grown-up musical The Band's Visit outmuscled the acclaimed and sprawling British import Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for the most Tony Awards on Sunday, capturing 10 statuettes, including best musical.
It's based on a 2007 Israeli film of the same name and centers on members of an Egyptian police orchestra booked to play a concert at an Israeli city who accidentally end up in the wrong town. Its embrace of foreign cultures working together found a sweet spot with Tony voters.
"In The Band's Visit, music gives people hope and makes borders disappear," producer Orin Wolf said upon accepting the best new musical crown, saying it offers a message of unity in a world that "more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences."
Tony Shalhoub won as best leading man in a musical for his work on The Band's Visit, connecting the win to his family's long history of immigration from Lebanon. The show's Katrina Lenk, who won best actress in a musical, said the production "filled her stupid little heart with so much joy."
The Band's Visit also won statuettes for best direction, orchestration, sound design, best book and score, lighting and featured actor Ari'el Stachel, who gave a heartfelt speech about his past.
"For so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person," he said, addressing his parents in the audience. He thanked the creators of the show "for being courageous for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time that we need that more than ever."
The two-part spectacle Harry Potter and the Cursed Child captured six awards, including best play, book, lighting, sound design, orchestrations and director for John Tiffany, who asked the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to his boyfriend. They obliged.
A British revival of Angels in America, Tony Kushner's monumental, two-part drama about AIDS, life and love during the 1980s, grabbed three big awards, including best play revival and acting trophies for Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane.
Garfield won his first Tony, for best leading actor in a play. He dedicated the win to the gay, transgender and queer community, who he said fought and died for the right to love. He said the play is a rejection of bigotry, shame and oppression.
"We are all sacred and we all belong," Garfield said.
In one of the ceremony's most mesmerizing moments, Melody Herzfeld, the drama teacher who nurtured many of the young people demanding change after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was honored from the Tony Award stage.
Herzfeld, the one-woman drama department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was cheered by the crowd at Radio City Music Hall. Herzfeld saved 65 lives by barricading students into a small classroom closet on Valentine's Day when, police say, a former student went on a school rampage, killing 17 people.
Members of Herzfeld's drama department took the Tony stage to serenade her with "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent.
In other wins, Glenda Jackson added to her impressive resume with a Tony Award for best actress in a play for her work in a revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. That show also yielded the featured actress win to Roseanne star Laurie Metcalf.
Billy Joel gave his friend Bruce Springsteen a special Tony Award. "This is deeply appreciated, and thanks for making me feel so welcome on your block," Springsteen said.
Later, Springsteen performed "My Hometown" on the piano from his sold-out one-man show, Springsteen on Broadway. (Robert De Niro, who took the stage to introduce Springsteen's performance, started off with an expletive directed at President Donald Trump, which garnered him a sustained standing ovation from the crowd.)
Co-hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles kicked the show off with a self-parodying duet on piano for all the "losers" -- including them. Neither Bareilles nor Groban have won a Grammy or a Tony despite selling millions of albums and appearing on Broadway.
A Section on 06/11/2018
Print Headline: Band's Visit takes 10 Tonys