Believe it or not, but there was a time when Hamilton was just the face on a $10 bill — which is largely more attainable these days than a pair of tickets to the current Broadway megahit of the same name. Lin-Manuel Miranda's sensation is just one of the highlights of the 2015-16 Broadway season, which will be celebrated come Sunday night at the American Theatre Wing's 70th annual Tony Awards.
In a season that's seen creations from the likes of Steve Martin and Sara Bareilles, as well as jaw-dropping performances from newcomers (like Hamilton's Daveed Diggs) to legends (Long Day's Journey Into Night's Jessica Lange), we turned to one of Bravo's own Broadway veterans to make sense of it all. Who will win? Who will lose? And what's so special about live theatre anyway? "There are so many elements, responsibilities, and talents that have to cohesively coordinate for live theatre to even work nonetheless become magical," Craig Ramsay, star of Newlyweds Season 3 told The Daily Dish via email. "The energy shared with the audience has a huge impact and that positivity is passed forward." Having starred as Boris in the 2004 Fiddler on the Roof revival, as well as in productios of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and On the twentieth Century, Craig revealed his personal favorites from the year that was. "I appreciate the fact that The Color Purple revival focuses on the story and music," he said. "I honestly don’t care about an expensive set behind me as a performer I care about having the freedom to express the story and focus on that."
L to R: Craig's husband Brandon Liberati, Jennifer Hudson, and Craig backstage at The Color Purple (Photo: Bruce Glikas/www.playbill.com)
Craig's love of Broadway runs deep, from the first show he ever saw (Phantom of the Opera, which was also the first show he was offered an Equity contract for) to the many performers he counts as friends (Megan Hilty, Andrea Martin, and Stephanie Block). But most of all, Brandon sees Broadway's ability to impact the city of New York as a whole as one of its most important qualities. "I believe New York’s heart comes from the energy produced on Broadway," he explained. "I was in Mamma Mia during 9/11 and my cast and I had a huge responsibility to shift people's energy positively and bring them together with a common goal of finding joy and love. Sounds like I’m bring dramatic and maybe I am but get used to it cause I’m all things Broadway, baby!"
To better prepare yourself for Sunday night's show, take a look at Craig's picks, below.
Best Musical: Hamilton
"It was groundbreaking in every possible way both onstage and offstage with the cast getting a cut of the royalties. We all know this is commonplace for TV and film — well most TV, reality TV shows are next (wink wink) — but for theatre performers who help create a show like I did with the pre-broadway Mamma Mia it is the respectful, right personal and professional thing to do. Take care of your performers who help create your masterpieces. On a side note: We personally loved Waitress, too!"
Best Play: The Humans
"I personally did like Eclipsed but the other humans who saw the humans will vote The Humans."
Best Revival of a Play: Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
"The staging is PHABulous. There are people onstage watching this show like it was a bull fight!"
Best Revival of a Musical: The Color Purple
"Brandon was obsessed with Spring Awakening, so he’s going to call me a cheater and be pissed at me for saying the Tony Award is going to The Color Purple. I was in the previous Fiddler on the Roof and I can say what was extremely special about our version was the unconditional loving, community feel we had both onstage and off. Although some performances stood out with this latest revival it definitely did not feel like a community onstage and/or off — even when we went backstage to meet a couple of friends and got to witness the energy between the cast."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Leslie Odom, Jr, Hamilton.
"It’s a race between Danny Burstein of Fiddler on the Roof and Leslie Odom, Jr. from Hamilton. Danny has been nominated six times and won before but I’m going to break “tradition” here and give it to Leslie Odom, Jr."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
"Cynthia should win the Tony for performance onstage and Gun Show offstage! This girl trains and it shows, she is STRONG."
Craig and The Color Purple star Cynthia Erivo (Photo: Bruce Glikas/www.playbill.com)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Frank Langella, The Father
"Frank Langella will take this one but I’m torn because Mark Strong (A View From the Bridge) was SO GOOD! It's a #CoinToss for me."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Jessica Lange, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night
"This will shock you!!! Jessica Lange has NEVER been nominated for a Tony Award. That, combined with the fact that she’s Broadway royalty and performs for nearly four hours in this show, she truly deserves the award for taking this performance that probably feels like a long day’s journey into night for her eight times a week. FYI, Laurie Metcalf, (Misery) is one of my favorite actresses…ever… end of story."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Feature Role in a Musical: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
"Triple split might hurt these Hamilton triple threats — Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson — but I’m personally hoping it goes to Daveed Diggs because he’s bringing something so unique and special to Broadway with this performance. It’s refreshing!"
Best Performance by an Actress in a Feature Role in a Musical: Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
"I’d put money on this one… well I should say I WILL be putting money on this one. Renee Elise Goldsberry stops the show! #Imwithher"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Feature Role in a Play: Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
"Michael Shannon, but everyone is saying Reed Birney (The Humans) as he has never won before and is brilliant in this."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Feature Role in a Play: Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
"Jayne Houdyshell is a Boadway favorite. Both Megan Hilty and Andrea Martin (Nosies Off) are friends of mine so I kinda want them to take it but realistically I don’t think they will. It’s Jayne’s win Tony night."
Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical:
"I don’t waste your time: ALL GOING TO Hamilton — Lin-Manuel Miranda (book, score), Thomas Kail (direction)."
Best Direction of a Play: Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge
"It’s his year!"
And check out his honorable mentions (because what would an award show be without snubs?).
Jennifer Hudson, The Color Purple
"We stand behind — or in this case beside — our #FitandPhab friend Jennifer Hudson on this dramatic issue this year: SHE WAS SNUBBED! She’s more than just a marquis name in lights, she’s extremely talented and I don’t need to tell you that, but apparently WE ALL have to tell that to the Tony voters!"
"American Psycho the musical closed after being overlooked at the Tony Awards. Brandon and I loved it; Benjamin Walker is extremely talented even with a shirt on, but the shirt off should have saved the show alone. BUT come on, Duncan Sheik: You have Alice Ripley (a Broadway legend) in your show and hide her in the chorus with No 11 o’clock number… of course you’re going to have a closed show."