Entertainment

One night for Broadway to pick up pace

NEW YORK – Surely many in the audience were thinking about it, but “Company” director Marianne Elliott said it most directly at Sunday’s Tony Awards: in the devastating two years since the pandemic, “she sometimes felt that live theater was in jeopardy. “.

Like, the industry may never recover.

Sunday night’s lush ceremony was designed to address that unthinkable possibility with an emphatic “No”: to make it clear what the ongoing difficulties are, Broadway is back, with enthusiasm and creativity, and it’s here to stay. You just need even more people to fill the seats.

But if the ceremony was meant to bring back the dazzle of past Broadway seasons, marking the Tony’s 75th birthday with a hint of nostalgia, it was also a celebration of the innovative work of a very diverse group of artists. The award, the best new musical, went to the innovative “A Strange Loop,” the winner of Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize 2020 about a black gay man who writes a program about a black gay man. “The Strange Loop” surpassed a rate that appealed to the public as “Six: The Musical,” a pop reimagining of Henry VIII’s six wives, and “MJ,” about the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

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The night was led by Ariana DeBose, a very confident and versatile (and recent Oscar winner), who initially stated that Broadway was picking up the pace. But a quick look at the Radio City Music Hall showed that there are still challenges. Although the nominees and guests of the orchestra were without a mask (after presenting COVID-19 evidence), those on the balconies were all masked, including a group of COVID-19 security managers being honored, as is still the case. forced to be the audience of the Broadway theater. The somewhat discordant juxtaposition showed that this is not yet a “normal” Broadway season.

Some key moments:

THE STUDIES GET A LOVE

With Broadway casts sometimes decimated by virus cases, alternate workers and swings were recognized throughout the season as saviors, and advertised by stars like Hugh Jackman, who praised them as “superheroes.” Presenter DeBose noted that she herself was a substitute at the start of her career, and some winners also made sure to respect: “I believe in you,” said “MJ” director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Later in the show, after a “Six” issue, DeBose made sure to mention that Mallory Maedke, the show’s dance captain and alternate, “got into this issue 12 hours ago,” attracting applause from the crowd.

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THE ‘GREAT WHITE WAY?’ – JUST A LIKE

Addressing the issue of diversity and representation, DeBose praised the fact that Broadway was becoming “more reflective of the community that loves it.” She noted that the season was full of black creative voices both on and off stage, and that two Broadway theaters were being renamed for the great black performers James Earl Jones and Lena Horne. And he joked that he sees the phrase “The Great White Road,” as it has long been called Broadway, as a nickname, “as opposed to an instruction guide.”

BALSA JACKSON LIFE

Jackson, cutting a striking figure with his warm pink coat over a tuxedo, explained how it took him 18 years to complete “A Strange Loop,” which he wrote while feeling “unseen, unheard, misunderstood.” He added: “I just wanted to create a little life raft for me as a black gay man to spend the day.” And he pointed out that while representation is key, it is also critical to do the best job possible. “I’m all about representation, but let’s make sure we keep up our work,” he said. “Never settle for anything less than the best you can do.” His cast seemed as happy as he was; when they finished their Tony number, they jumped for joy.

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NO TONYS, BUT THEY HAVE TROMBONS

The rebirth of “The Music Man” is one of Broadway’s greatest current hits, regularly grossing over $ 3 million a week, largely due to beloved and charismatic protagonists Sutton Foster and Jackman. Despite six nominations, he failed to win any Tony on Sunday. But the audience seemed to love it when Jackman began singing the famous “Seventy-Six Trombones” with young and laughing cast members marching through the audience and then Foster came to storm his partner, two of the best triple threats of any. Broadway season.

MOST GRATEFUL AWARD? DUH, MOM AND DAD

Everyone thanks mom and dad at the awards ceremonies, almost all of them, but some are more specific than others. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, winner of the Best Supporting Actor Award in a play for “Take Me Out,” made sure to thank the ‘hires’ for letting him find his dreams in the Big Apple. “Mom, Dad, thank you for letting me move to New York when I was 17. I told you I’d be fine!” said the “Modern Family” star. As for Gareth Owen, who won in sound design for “MJ,” he thanked his parents “for not pushing me too hard to get a proper job.”

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… AND SISTER

Joaquina Kalukango also thanked “the best parents in the world” when she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her stunning performance in “Paradise Square,” a show about Irish immigrants and black Americans in New York Civil War. . But she also thanked her sister for designing her bright dress with a lime green train. Kalukango won the rare double ovation, first for his stunning rendition of the musical “Let It Burn” and then for his speech.

AND MOM AGAIN!

It was a great moment for Myles Frost, winner of the Best Actor Award in a musical for his Broadway debut role as Michael Jackson in “MJ”. He chose to highlight his mother for her approach to teaching by show. “Without you it wouldn’t be me,” said Frost, 22, whose dance stands out on the show. “You showed me what a strong black woman is and what it means to raise a strong black man.” Frost became the youngest solo winner in the category, beating Jaquel Spivey, 23, of “A Strange Loop,” not to mention Billy Crystal, Jackman, and Rob McClure.

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A LOT OF REAL “COMPANY”

It was a night to mourn the revered composer Stephen Sondheim, who died in November at the age of 91, and his influence was no more evident than in the five victories for the genre revival of his “Company.” Elliot, who as a director changed the male engagement role for a female one, made history for Tony by becoming the only woman to win three Tonys for directing. She dedicated her award to all those who struggle to keep theaters open. Beloved Patti LuPone won Best Outstanding Actress, thanking COVID-19 security agents among many others in her acceptance speech, and Matt Doyle won Best Outstanding Actor.

THEY LISTENED

An emotional Lin-Manuel Miranda paid a touching tribute to Sondheim, who described the late composer’s generosity in writing letters to countless admirers, especially young writers who hoped to learn from him, such as Miranda. The floor was given to Bernadette Peters, one of Sondheim’s most acclaimed performers of songs, who performed the poignant “Children Will Listen” of “Into the Woods,” her mix of fairy tales. “Be careful with the things you say,” the song says. “The children will listen.”

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On Radio City and beyond, they listened, not just the kids.

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One night for Broadway to pick up pace

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