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Tony Winners 2022: The Tony Awards of This Year, Peaks, Low Points, and Whoas!

The 75th Annual Tony Awards were eager to announce that Broadway has escaped the pandemic and survived with a few warm nods to COVID-safety personnel and a few masks visible in the audience. If you’d like to contribute financially, we’d love to have you. It was inevitable that some COVID gloom would seep through — Anthony Edwards’ introduction of his wife, Mare Winningham, in Girl from the North Country reminded everyone that he’d stepped in to fill a role when too many cast members were out sick.

Dance captain Mallory Maedke and alternate Abby Mueller appeared in the performance from Six following a positive test earlier in the day for Ebola. No matter how long it took, the ceremony succeeded in conveying a sense of hope and excitement for the future of the performing arts through a series of large, spectacular musical pieces. Ariana DeBose, too, was present and giving it her all. One of the most heartwarming aspects of the show was seeing performers greet their heroes, who in turn were met by their heroes.

The Unflappable Natasha Katz Entered.

Even the unflappable Natasha Katz entered the stage to accept her lighting-design prize, saying, “Nathan Lane!” with a tone of surprise and happiness, as DeBose and Chita Rivera, embraced (in matching purple). Opening number: a meta/sweet Broadway baby. When it came time for Darren Criss and Julianne Hough to deliver the opening song, they sang about setting the scene.

Darren Criss composed the music and wrote the lyrics! It’s adorable. Very traditional. Seating at a theater with a lot of rotating seats.

HIGH: The outfit of Toby Marlow. In a metallic spaghetti-strap gown, she channeled the spirit of an early-aughts rom-com.

LOW: Combining the prizes for theatrical and musical costumes. Grump. All of the design awards were given out without a pause between the play and the musical in order to save time. ‘ Snubbing these prizes, which have been relegated to second-class status, enrages stagecraft enthusiasts.

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Lifetime Achievement Award.

winners and nominatios

Angela Lansbury was given a Lifetime Achievement Award, but it was only available to Paramount+ subscribers who could see it. To witness Lansbury’s Sweeney Todd co-star Len Cariou present the award, you’ll need Paramount+. Patti LuPone was very upset when the news was announced that she would be unable to attend. Patti, we’re with you on this one.)

It’s a British Sweep! Among the honorees were Marianne Elliott (Best Director for Company), Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow (Best Score for Six), Simon Russell Beale (Best Leading Actor for The Lehman Trilogy), Gareth Owen (Best Sound Design for MJ), Sam Mendes (Best Director for The Lehman Trilogy), Jon Clark (Best Lighting Design for The Lehman Trilogy), Bunny Christie (Best Scene Design for Company), Christopher Wheeldon (Best Choreography for MJ), and For the Platinum Jubilee, we hope the queen appreciates this unusual present from us.

The Actual Win Itself:

Not so much for the actual win itself: Christopher Wheeldon’s speech. This is the wrong location. “However,” he adds: To start things off, Wheeldon praised his husband—a professional meditation counselor—and then honored all of the Broadway swings and understudies, who have kept these shows running during the pandemic because they’re so good at what they do.

The discomfort of the transfer from Paramount+ to CBS. As terrible as last year’s hosting of the awards ceremony on a streaming platform, which ended seven minutes early, then urging the audience to go to another tab in the service—Paramount+ subscription-only please—isn’t quite as bad this time around. A lot of the seams were visible, which was more than I expected. (Network executives who complain about viewership figures ought to take a hard look in the mirror.)

The Raunchiness of The Act.

VERY LOW: Ariana DeBose’s cheesy intro. As an antidote to the raunchiness of the Act One performance, which contained lyrics by Darren Criss (! ), DeBose appeared in a white body stocking (costume designer: “Ariana, we want to wear tights and…”) during the awards show’s tumultuous beginning. Singing bits and pieces from numerous musicals (DeBose: “Got it”) Seeing as the titles of the musicals were flashing behind her, she questioned, “Can you locate ’em?” Through it all, DeBose made some strange voice choices: “There’s aoiahi place for us” is not the lyrics from West Side Story.

One of the most memorable quotes from Ariana DeBose was, “The Great White Way is becoming more of an adverb and less of a guide.” She may be a little stern when necessary. Patti LuPone’s victory for Company was a big one. Patti LuPone has now been nominated eight times and has won three times. You take the stage, read your prepared remarks, and express your gratitude to the COVID safety team, your New York dresser, and your London dresser.

The Michael Jackson Musical.

Patti LuPone was already into her written acceptance speech when she casually went to page two. EVEN HIGHER: We would have happily listened to her if she had a third page. They didn’t dare to take her off the stage!

LOW: That’s… interesting. MJ, that’s interesting. There was an abundance of affection for the Michael Jackson musical, MJ, in these Tony Wins, including awards for the lead performer, lighting and sound design, and choreography. When the show treats Jackson’s legacy as if it were an uncomplicated pop-star arc, it’s difficult to watch as it glosses over the darker aspects of Jackson’s life. Choices! Isn’t it true that people create them? To the right, [Shuffles off, hurriedly]

LARGE: Chris Harper’s compensation. We all enjoy a good inside joke, and the creative team behind Company is no exception. All of the contest winners took the time to mention their boss’s name, seemingly for no specific reason. It was an honor to pay Patti’s wages, so Harper added the following statement to his speech after Company was named Best Revival of a Musical.

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Attending This Awards Ceremony.

75th Annual Tony Awards - Show

I’m TOO DAMN HIGH HIGH: Attending this awards ceremony was evidently well worth the money spent. This might not be as bad as it appears if the prices had been lower.

GRADE: Billy Crystal leads the room in a round of Yiddish jazz scatting. Yes, it all began with a frenzied exchange of consonant sounds. After calling out several audience members (Samuel L. Jackson, then Lin-Manuel Miranda, who had to repeat, “I’m Alexander Rabinowitz”), Crystal accelerated and the number jumped. As soon as Jayne Houdyshell can be heard saying, “Vey!” in a theater-wide exchange of exclamations, you know you’ve hit pay dirt.

Is Laurence Fishburne capable of voicing Daffy Duck? In order to convince Laurence Fishburne to perform a Daffy Duck accent on national television, you need to be as deranged as Ariana DeBose. (Watching his daughter’s face contort in response was amusing.)

The Opening Number.

LOW: The emceeing style of Ariana DeBose. Theater-kid enthusiasm at the actual Tony Awards seems illicit like it’s going to go off in a nuclear explosion. Regardless, we’re still here. One thing about the opening number was that no one knows who penned it. Then it became apparent that Ariana DeBose would be bringing overpowering, hyper-self-conscious,

purposely mannered Miranda Sings vibes all night, and everyone in the room and everyone watching at home groaned and said, “Fine, okay.” Fine. Nothing more, nothing less. We were just trying to enjoy ourselves while watching Phylicia Rashad win an award, but… Samuel L. Jackson has us all clapping. It’s a tribute to August Wilson and Jackson’s wife, the first black woman to helm Wilson on Broadway this autumn, LaTanya Richardson.

High, without Any Indication that It Will Be Reduced: Carole Rothman, the diminutive producer, is dwarfed by that obscenely tall microphone. With the microphone aligned with her head, she accepted the Best Revival of a Play award. That she has images from the night without a shadow on her face doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, does it?

Entering the Audience.

Michael R. Jackson, Barbara Whitman, Jaquel Spivey

LOW: Ariana DeBose’s “Entering the Audience” piece. Without having seen the Saw movies, the common idea seems to be that a terrifying figure with strange emotions holds people prisoner and tortures them. Here’s a thought experiment: Is this observation unrelated to the Tony Awards in any way?

HIGH: Bernadette Peters pays tribute to Sondheim by performing “Children Will Listen.” Were you crying, too? There were no tears shed. None of them. Let’s get this over with. Ruthie Ann Miles was one of the few people in the audience who was wearing a face mask. This year’s Tony Awards honor an industry that has taken COVID safeguards so seriously by requiring its audience to wear masks even after the rest of New York City went wild.

Individuals in The Orchestra.

Even if individuals in the orchestra had been urged to test negative, it was upsetting to see the chamber revealed in this way. The modern Broadway audience has it’s own distinct aesthetic, so show it off! It gives the impression that these are masks. A Strange Loop won Best Book of a Musical at the Tony Awards.

Jackson was greeted by a standing ovation as he won the prize in a stunning magenta robe. His thank-you speech was being cut short by the standing ovation, so he made a sour note to the audience to sit down.

LOW: The cowardice of CBS (presumably). Rewriting the song was necessary because someone in the C-Suite was flushed by the frankness and sexual ambiguity of the lyrics. However, it’s genuine… Michael R. Jackson has the ability to rework a difficult and delicate tune. In spite of being muffled by CBS, the wildness of his idea could still be seen on the screen.

The Original Spring Awakening Cast.

tony-awards-2022-jackman-foster

HIGH: “Touch Me” was performed by the original Spring Awakening cast. Quite the experience! Seeing everyone again was a treat, and the routine, dancing, and general atmosphere of the song have all held up quite well over time. At times, Jonathan Groff nodded or smiled at other cast members as they made their way toward one another during the high-school reunion performance. To get to another level, though, Lea Michele appeared to be dancing like she was in The OA. This is exactly what you’d anticipate.

SUPERIOR: Whatever buddy comedy Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield were secretly selling to potential producers. Onstage, Garfield maintained his composure until Nathan Lane congratulated him on his velvet suit and said that he adores men in velvet suits. In the blink of an eye, Garfield was on fire. What about a road movie? A Shakespearean play? Let’s see what they can do! Let’s see them do whatever they want, please!

The Show Returned.

“Let It Burn” by Joaquina Kalukango wowed the crowd. When David Alan Grier declared Kalukango from Paradise Square, he warned the crowd to be ready, and they were. When “Let It Burn” reached its climax, it was evident that she had captured the attention of the whole theater. When the show returned from commercial, Ariana DeBose said, “I’m still not over Joaquina Kalukango.”

As Deirdre O’Connell instructs, we are to “create the unusual.” O’Connell lip-synched (stunningly) along to a recording of playwright Lucas Hnath’s mother as she recounted a terrifying narrative of being kidnapped in Dana H. (variously pronounced by different people as “Diana H.” and “Donna H.” during the ceremony). As if to say, “Please let me be standing here as a tiny hint from the universe to do the crazy art,” O’Connell exhorted others in attendance to follow their hearts rather than the money.

WOW: Myles Frost takes home the award for his performance in MJ as Michael Jackson. Frost moon-sauntered his way to the platform and burst into song as he accepted his award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Frost’s admission that he had to pee was not the only thing that made it heartfelt and real. Frost’s performance deserves praise, but it’s also important to emphasize that this is a Michael Jackson musical.

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Performance.

tony-award-winners

OUTSTANDING: Six’s “Ex-Wives” performance. Why not end your career with six notes of triumph? Mallory Maedke stepped in as Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third queen, 12 hours before the show aired as part of Henry VIII’s cast-offs. This is what they do! This is what they do! This is what they do! This is what they do! This is what they do! This is what they do!

Musical High: A Strange Loop has won the Best Musical award. “Big, Black, and Queer-Ass American Broadway Show” took the gold for Michael R. Jackson after two decades of hard work. “Oh, that makes me so happy,” Ariana DeBose exclaimed as she exited for her final farewell as the audience exploded in joy at (the living) Michael Jackson’s victory.

Not to mention Jennifer Hudson‘s EGOT as a producer. When producer Barbara Whitman finished delivering her piece, the Tonys abruptly cut the mic and gave it to Jackson. After a few rounds of boos and groans, the program chose to move on from DeBose’s historic performance.

Marissa Figgs
I write picture books, for middle grade, and young adults, some of which have won prizes, been filmed, or become bestsellers. I've ghostwritten for Pixar and developed teen work for Alloy Entertainment. I think heartfelt writing is the finest. It doesn't have to be personal, but it must be visceral. You want them riveted from the first word, page, or sentence, no matter how painful or unpleasant, and that's my expertise.
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