Dominant 'Hamilton' collects acting, score honors, Jessica Lange wins first Tony

“Hamilton,” the pop culture phenomenon based on U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, collected several early Tony Awards as expected on Sunday at Broadway’s annual salute to itself, with wins for best score, book, direction, featured actor and actress as well as technical awards.

All eyes were on the show and its record 16 nominations and it was a virtual shoo-in for the top prize of best musical.

Early “Hamilton” awards went to Renee Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs as best featured actress and actor in a musical, best director Thomas Kail, and best lighting, costumes and orchestrations.

“Hamilton” tells the story of the ill-fated Hamilton with a deft musical melding of hip-hop and rap, R&B, ballads and traditional Broadway showstoppers.

A somber note was cast over the festivities by the attack on an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub early on Sunday morning that killed 50 people and injured 53 others.

Host James Corden opened the usually ebullient show with a statement to victims and others affected, saying, “Your tragedy is our tragedy … hate will never win.”

“Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.”

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, accepting for best score of a musical, wrote a sonnet for his acceptance speech done in the style of verse of “Hamilton” and referencing the shootings.

“Senseless acts of tragedy … times of hate,” he intoned, ending, voice breaking, with “love is love is love, cannot be killed.” Miranda also won for best book of a musical.

Before the attack, the 70th annual Tony Awards, which aired on CBS, had been expected to reverse a recent slide in TV ratings, as both “Hamilton” devotees as well as people who have simply heard the fanfare boost interest.

The show’s success has played a big part in a record-breaking Broadway season, including attendance of 13.3 million and $1.37 billion in sales.

Jessica Lange won her first Tony as morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night, saying, “It fills me with such happiness, even on such a sad day as this,” referencing the Florida tragedy.

Other winners included Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney, best featured actress and actor in a play for “The Humans,” and Ivo van Hove, best director of a play for “A View from the Bridge.”

In a year when the Oscars drew criticism for lacking non-white nominees, the Tonys, led by the multi-cultural cast of Hamilton, stand rich with diversity.

Despite the buzz generated by “Hamilton,” the show was unlikely to equal “The Producers” record of 12 wins in 2001.

Miranda, as Hamilton, was vying for best actor in a musical but faced stiff competition from co-star Leslie Odom Jr. as nemesis Aaron Burr. Both were in a horse race with Broadway veteran Danny Burstein in the well-received “Fiddler on the Roof” revival.

Other front-runners included Frank Langella, playing an Alzheimer’s-afflicted patriarch in “The Father,” and Cynthia Erivo, star of “The Color Purple,” which was favored to win Best Musical Revival.

For its 70th birthday, the Tonys boasted appearances by powerhouse stars including Cate Blanchett and Oprah Winfrey, herself up for an award as a “Color Purple” producer.

(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Bill Trott)

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