The people of Newfoundland were celebrated in speech and song at the Tony Awards on Sunday night but the heartwarming Canadian musical "Come From Away" fell short in its historic bid to capture Broadway's biggest musical prize.
The play "Oslo", a three-hour meditation on diplomacy, has been crowned the best play of the season.
Indecent director Rebecca Taichman won for play directing, and veteran actor James Earl Jones was presented with a lifetime achievement award.
Nixon was named best featured actress in a play for a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, about a greedy southern family's underhanded business practices.
The show's writer, Steven Levenson, won for best book of a musical, and Alex Lacamoire earned one for best orchestrations (after winning past year for "Hamilton.") And Rachel Bay Jones won her first Tony - featured actress - for her heartbreaking portrayal of a mother who struggles to understand and help her son, Evan, as he gets caught in a bad lie that he can not control. The Divine Miss M, who won best actress for "Hello, Dolly!" was not going to be denied and signalled she was in a feisty mood early: "I'd like to thank all the Tony voters - many of whom I've actually dated", she joked.
"Dear Evan Hansen" was named best musical and was the night's big victor with six awards in all.
Scott Rudin - the powerful producer of "Hello, Dolly!" - flexed his muscles as well last night, flouting a recent Tony rule that said no more than six producers of a show could appear on stage to accept an award. But she said the experience had been "life-affirming and life-changing", telling reporters between tears, "It's more than I deserve".
Noting one of its lines about people who "eat the Earth" and others who "watch them do it", Nixon praised "the people who in 2017 are refusing to just stand around and watch them do it".
Spacey, who was named Tony host after several other celebrities turned down the job, laughed at himself in the 10-minute opening song, in which he gradually grew comfortable with hosting duties despite what he fears will be nasty tweets crashing down.
THE PERIL OF LEADING: After the Tony nominations in May, the smart money must have been on "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812", which had snapped up a leading 12 nods and looked strong in every category.
"Surprising winners, and I'm not even talking about the Tonys!" said Spacey while impersonating former president Bill Clinton whose wife Hillary was defeated by Trump in last year's divisive election.
Soon after, cast members from "Come From Away" went onstage linked arm-in-arm with members of the Rockettes and performed a snippet of "Welcome to the Rock" from the hit musical. It earned Christopher Ashley the Tony for best direction of a musical. Spacey, dressed as Close, sang "I'm coming out..." and then paused, tantalizingly. "I'm Broadway bound", he sang. His Frank Underwood from "House of Cards" makes a late appearance.
Other winners included August Wilson's "Jitney," which collected the Tony for best play revival.
There were no technical or human snafus - other than Midler's elongated speech - that marred previous awards shows this year, including the wrong victor announced at the Oscars and sound issues at the Grammys. Spacey talked about the show's accountants and said: "You guys do not have to worry about them tonight, at all".