There were delightful surprises and predictable disappointments during the 75th Tony Awards, honoring the first full season since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters in March 2020 and ushered in a period of uncertainty and makeshift adjustments.
A Strange Loop’s win as best musical, while hardly unexpected — it had already snagged the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and received eleven Tony nominations, the most of any show — its creator Michael R. Jackson in his acceptance speech drove home how the success of this personal, erudite, self-declared “Big, Black and Queer-Ass American Broadway Show” was a sign of a more inclusive Broadway to be. “I wrote it at a time when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t know how I was going to move forward. I felt unseen. I felt unheard. I felt misunderstood, and I just wanted to create a little bit of a life raft for myself as a Black gay man.”
Host Ariana DeBose, pointing out the diversity in the nominees: “While we haven’t solved all our problems, I feel that “Great White Way” is becoming more of a nickname than a how-to guide.”
Billy Crystal teaching Lin-Manuel Miranda to scat sing in Yiddish.
The tribute to Stephen Sondheim was brief but moving, introduced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who said “I stand here on behalf of generations of artists he took the time to encourage,” and capped by Bernadette Peters singing “Children Will Listen” from “Into The Woods.”
Patti LuPone, accepting her third Tony, thanked the understudies and the safety managers, and producer Steve Harper for paying her salary — an odd motif during the ceremony that somebody had to explain to me: A theatergoer whom LuPone had called out from the stage for errant behavior had answered back that people like her paid her salary.
Once again, the Tony Awards ceremony gave short-shrift to the straight plays, having the five nominated playwrights briefly talk about their plays rather than presenting any scenes from them. The unfortunate message this broadcast coast to coast is that plays are a specialized niche in a Broadway that is synonymous with musicals.
Once again, the first of the four hours of the ceremony was put behind a paywall, available only to subscribers of Paramount+, which felt like an insult and undermined the claim of inclusion.
On the other hand, there is undeniable appeal to the usual Broadway razzmatazz, represented by the numbers from each of the nominated musicals
The Week in New York Theater News
“Leopoldstadt,” 50 years in the life of a Jewish family, based on Tom Stoppard’s own, will be his 19th play on Broadway, when it opens at the Longacre October 2, 2022. Cast to be announced
“Tina,” the musical about the life of Tina Turner, will play its final performance on Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theater on August 14, 2022, after 27 preview performances and 482 regular performances.
“Dear Evan Hansen” will play its final performance at the Music Box on September 18, after almost six years. It worked beautifully on Broadway and spawned several books — and a movie that was NOT as bad as everybody said (with the exception of the cringeworthy rocking duet with the ghost.)