Sometimes there are trends in popular culture, but one recurring theme at the 2017 Tony Awards is partially the result of an accident. Why are people wearing casts at the Tony Awards? Kevin Spacey wore a cast on his arm and his leg as kind of a Broadway inside joke.
The first cast, pictured above, is part of the plot in Dear Evan Hansen. At the beginning of the show, Evan has fallen out of a tree and broken his arm. His mom, played by Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones, encourages him to have people sign his cast as a way to break the ice and make new friends.
However, when Spacey's opening performance turned into a parody of Groundhog Day, an ensemble member took off his arm cast and put it on his leg. That's a reference to Groundhog Day star Andy Karl, who tore his ACL during one of the show's final previews. He performed the rest of the show with a cane, and then went immediately into physical therapy. The actor is still in recovery and performs now with a knee brace — because Broadway stars are unstoppable forces and, as the cast now says, "Champions adjust!"
Ben Platt's cast was on display during Evan Hansen's performance, but Phil Connors is fully clothed during "Seeing You," the song performed at the Tony Awards. If you want to see Karl in boxers, and for that I do not blame you, get yourself to Groundhog Day on Broadway ASAP and catch that knee brace in action.
So Spacey's comedy bit/prop work had a few meanings. It was a good way to address the two most talked-about leading-man musical performances this season in a light, fun, and theatrical way! That's what the Tony Awards are all about.