Broadway's top honors were handed out June 12 at the 75th Annual Tony Awards, with A Strange Loop and The Lehman trilogy taking the top honors of Best Musical and Play, respectively. See the full list of winners here.
Here are our 5 key takeaways and trends from this year's awards, from some historic wins to frequent acceptance speech call-outs and more.
Celebrating the Ones Who Keep Broadway Kicking
With Broadway’s glitziest night back to its former glory at Radio City, it was easy to forget while watching the 2022 ceremony that theatre is still fighting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the artists onstage and in the audience mostly chose to be unmasked, they also wanted to make sure to celebrate the individuals making Broadway possible during this time. “Huge gratitude to all of the understudies across all of the stages in New York, and to all of the COVID safety people,” said Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony winner Patti LuPone, echoing sentiments shared by winners Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. The gratitude culminated with host Ariana DeBose singling out SIX assistant choreographer and dance captain in a post-performance moment to say, “…This is what tonight is all about! Mallory Maedke! This woman is the dance captain and alternate who was put into this number 12 hours ago. It's what they do, because the show must go on!"
A Big Night for Artists Making Their Broadway Debut
2022 was a good year to make your Broadway debut come Tony time, with nine theatre artists winning Tonys for work that served as their Main Stem debut—and that’s not even counting producers, of which there were myriad debut winners. SIX songwriters Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and costume designer Gabriella Slade; The Skin of Our Teeth costume designer Montana Levi Blanco; Dana H. sound designer Mikhail Fiksel; A Strange Loop book writer Michael R. Jackson; The Lehman Trilogy writers Stefano Massini and Ben Power; and MJ leading actor Myles Frost all won Tony Awards while making their Broadway debuts. What a way to break onto the scene!
Tony Awards Pride
The Tony awards are certainly no stranger to the LGBTQIA+ community, and this year was no different—in fact, it was historic. Non-binary Toby Marlow’s win for Best Original Score of SIX: The Musical (with co-writer Lucy Moss) made him the first non-cisgender Tony winner in Tony Awards history. “It feels really amazing to be a part of a season where there’s so much queerness on stage explicitly,” Marlow said in the Tony press room shortly after winning. “Queerness in the people, in the actors, in the creators of the shows. It feels really wonderful, and I really hope that with more and more queer people storming Broadway in lots of new and different ways that that’ll be reflected more and more in the shows we’re watching, because representation is pretty fab. Love the queers. Happy pride!”
Messages about the impact of winning a Tony as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community also made it to the stage of Radio City Music Hall in acceptance speeches, from celebrations of Pride to A Strange Loop writer Michael R. Jackson’s more longform thoughts. “I wrote [A Strange Loop] at a time when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t know how 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 to try and just get through the day.”
Even LGBTQ non-profit GLAAD recognized the significance of the evening—which saw three of the four major production categories going to shows with major LGBTQIA+ components—in a statement released June 13. “With A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson puts Black, queer stories center stage and GLAAD was beyond proud to be an investor to help bring this incredible and groundbreaking production to Broadway. A Strange Loop, Company, and Take Me Out showcase the outstanding work of multiple LGBTQ artists and tell important stories about the lives of LGBTQ people with depth, nuance, and humanity. These productions winning top honors at this year’s Tony Awards is a key reminder that our stories matter and deserve recognition. As a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills sweep the nation today, creating and awarding authentic and deeply affecting stories is more crucial than ever before.”
All Together Now: "Chris Harper Pays My Salary!"
During the 2022 Tony Awards, multiple Company winners thanked Broadway producer Chris Harper for paying their salaries during their acceptance speeches, in reference to a viral social media clip where Patti LuPone exclaimed the same sentiment to an unmasked and combative audience member. The ceremony included five whopping Chris Harper call-outs from Bunny Christie, winner of Best Scenic Design of a Musical; LuPone, winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical; Marianne Elliott, winner of Best Direction of a Musical; Matt Doyle, winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical; and Harper, himself, during Company’s win for Best Musical Revival.
The four-hour ceremony boasted a long A-list of Hollywood and Broadway celebrities introducing performances or presenting awards, often in pairs that seemed to hold a deeper connection than just being last year's winners. Several sets of presenters were former co-stars reuniting from past productions, including Kelli O’Hara and Ruthie Ann Miles, both Tony winners for the 2015 revival of The King and I; Sarah Paulson and Josh Lucas, Laura Wingfield and her Gentleman Caller from the 2005 revival of The Glass Menagerie; Renée Elise Goldsberry and Philipa Soo, two of Hamilton’s OG Schuyler sisters; Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane, both Tony winners for the 2018 revival of Angels in America; and Danielle Brooks and Cynthia Erivo, both from the 2015 revival of The Color Purple, who presented the Best Lead Actress in a Musical Award to their castmate Joaquina Kalukango. Broadway alums Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin appeared on stage together; the two are starring together as mother and son in the upcoming CBS legal drama So Help Me Todd. There were even a couple of family affairs: married couple Samuel L. Jackson and LaTonya Richardson Jackson, who will be working together next season on The Piano Lesson, he starring and she directing; and Prince and Paris Jackson, who introduced the performance from MJ the Musical, about their King of Pop father, Michael Jackson. And the evening wrapped up with the pairing-of-all-pairings: host Ariana DeBose, who recently won an Oscar as Anita in the new film (revival?) West Side Story, was joined on stage by Broadway’s original Anita, Chita Rivera, wearing lavender.