Credit: Linda Armstrong

One sadly consistent thing at the 72nd annual Tony Awards, which recognize excellence in Broadway theater, was that no Black actor who was nominated won. The Tony did not go to Denzel Washington for “The Iceman Cometh,” Condola Rashad for “Saint Joan” (which also closed Sunday, June 10), Lauren Ridloff for “Children of a Lesser God,” Hailey Kilgore for “Once on This Island,” Joshua Henry for “Carousel,” LaChanze and Ariana DeBose for “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” Brian Tyree Henry for “Lobby Hero” or director George C. Wolfe for “The Iceman Cometh.” It was so disappointing that none of these stellar performers got the chance to stand up and make their way to the stage. These actors were brilliant in their respective roles. Well, all I can say is bravo for your passionate, energized, exciting and entertaining performances.

One positive thing that can be said for this year’s Tonys as far as performers of color are concerned, is that “Once on This Island,” a fantastic show, won for best musical revival. (Of the 22 members of the cast, 21 are African-Americans.) This superb cast consists of Tamyra Gray, Quentin Earl Darrington, Alex Newell, Phillip Boykin, Courtney Carter, Darlesia Cearcy, Rodrick Covington, Emerson Davis, Alysha Deslorieux, Tyler Hardwick, Cassondra James, David Jennings, Grasan Kingsberry, Kenita R. Miller, Isaac Powell, T. Oliver Reid, Ximone Rose, Anthony Wayne, Aurelia Williams, Mia Williamson, Hailey Kilgore and Lea Salonga.

Hispanic-Americans were recognized at the Tony’s this year, as Chita Rivera was given a Lifetime Achievement Award. Rivera has thrilled audiences with her singing and dancing for decades, whether in movies or on the Broadway stage. A performer since 1950, she is the first Hispanic woman and first Latino-American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor.

“When I was told I was going to receive this wonderful honor I said, ‘Does that mean that it’s over, that it’s finished?’” Rivera said. “It absolutely does not.”

She thanked her parents, Julio and Catherine. She added, “How I wish my mother was here to see that her decision to put me in ballet class because I broke up the furniture in the house was correct. I thank the great choreographers I was privileged to learn from, like Jack Cole, Michael Kidd, Peter Gernaro and Bob Fosse—just some of the little ones.”

John Leguizamo was given a special Tony for the shows he has written and performed on and off Broadway, including “Mambo Mouth,” “Spic-O-Rama,” “Ghetto Klown,” “Freak,” “Sexoholic…a Love Story” and his latest, “Latin History for Morons.” He gave an acceptance speech that was funny, moving and honest.

“I’m an immigrant and I’m not an animal,” he said. “This award means a lot to me because it validates my work in the theater, because in order for me to make it in theater, I had to create my own parts. … All you have to do is to write a great freaking story, and if you write it they will come. And if you write it for Latin people and people of color they will come. … Latin people are the least represented. …My hope is that someday our stories won’t be the exception, but the rule. … That I will live to see a Broadway with our stories written by us, for us and for all…”

Leguizamo thanked his wife Justine, daughter Alegra, son Lucas and his mom. He stated that single mothers are “superheroes.”

He became choked up and wept as he told everyone, “Never forget the 1,500 missing Latin immigrant babies in detention, the 4,645 dead American citizens in Puerto Rico.”

Hispanic-American Lindsay Mendez won the featured actress in a musical Tony for “Carousel.” She is definitely a perfect example of nontraditional casting working out incredibly well.

“When I moved here, there weren’t that many Latina actresses on Broadway,” she said. “When I auditioned for ‘Carousel’ they told me no…but somehow things always come back around in one way or another.”

Addressing other young minority actresses, she said, “Just because you’re a minority doesn’t mean you just have to play roles that are only for minorities. I love getting to play this crazy Maine girl from New England, an accent I never thought I’d ever have to learn. I’ve been able to play so many roles where my ethnicity wasn’t defined. So, my advice would be, don’t put yourself in a box.”

A common theme throughout the Tonys, voiced by the award winners and in some cases presenters, involved anti-Trump messages. “Angels in America,” which tells the story of the health crisis in the gay community—a community not supported by the current administration—won three Tonys, one for Best Revival of a Play. The play’s creator, Tony Kushner, was quick to state that we need to go to the polls in November, vote the Republicans out and get this president out before he destroys us.

The Tonys recognized LaMama Theater in New York with the Regional Theater Special Award. It was wonderful for an off-Broadway venue to be acknowledged.

Even though the nominated African-American stars didn’t win, make it your business to support the shows these performers are in, from “The Iceman Cometh” to “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” and “Children of a Lesser God.” Unfortunately, “Lobby Hero” and “Saint Joan” have closed.