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‘A Strange Loop’ and ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ Win Top Tony Awards


The 75th Tony Awards kept its depth charges until late in the evening, and ended with joy, emotion, one or two surprises, and the terribly timed cutting of a mic.

Michael R. Jackson, the creator of the Pulitzer-winning A Strange Loop, was about to speak after the show—about a Black writer’s self-doubt, demons, and battle to find himself—won Best Musical. But after producer Barbara Whitman had finished speaking, Jackson’s mic was cut and it was suddenly on with the show.

Jackson had given a moving speech earlier in the evening when he accepted the Best Book of a Musical award, but given that this is a “big, black queer-ass American Broadway show,” the evening should have ended with the words of the Black queer man whose deeply personal work had just won the evening’s final, centerpiece award. As one of the show’s producers, Jennifer Hudson became an EGOT winner.

The awards were framed as a celebration of the return of Broadway, post-pandemic—heralding the work of all those on-stage and off, ensuring the safe opening of theaters again to actors, crew, and audiences.

A Strange Loop had started the evening as the frontrunner with 11 Tony nominations—it ended up winning two (and two of the most prestigious). The Lehman Trilogy was the biggest play winner with five Tonys, and the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company won the same number to make it the most awarded musical.

The Tonys host, Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, won many plaudits from viewers online for her opening number, and assured anchoring of the evening—including underlining the diversity on stage that has become a concerted mission of Broadway in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “‘The Great White Way’ is becoming more of a nickname as opposed to a how-to guide,” DeBose said.

In one of the evening’s biggest surprises, Jaquel Spivey, who plays A Strange Loop’s lead character, had been expected to win Best Lead Actor (Musical), but he did not. The award went to Myles Frost for playing Michael Jackson in MJ, the Musical, a production dedicated to dance and dazzle, if not digging into Jackson’s darker side and demons. Christopher Wheeldon, MJ’s director, won for Best Choreography; the musical won four Tonys in all, beating in number at least A Strange Loop.

Joaquina Kalukango gave one of the most passionate speeches of the evening, winning Best Lead Actress (Musical) for her role in Paradise Square. The musical was not critically loved, but—as the Tony audience saw—Kalukango’s electrifying rendition of her 11 o’clock number, “Let It Burn” sealed her victory.

Deirdre O’Connell in “Dana H.” photographed at Lyceum Theatre in Manhattan.

Chad Batka

The evening featured the first ever non-binary Tony winner, Toby Marlow, a co-winner for Best Original Score for SIX: The Musical. L Morgan Lee, the first ever openly trans nominee for A Strange Loop in the Best Featured Actress (Musical) category, lost out to Broadway diva Patti LuPone for her role as Joanne in Company, which won Best Revival of a Musical. The production’s victory was expected—as was LuPone’s co-star Matt Doyle’s win as Best Featured Actor (Musical), for his frenzied and much-praised rendition of “Getting Married Today,” in Marianne Elliott’s gender-switching production. Elliott herself won Best Direction for a Musical.

The Broadway cast of “Company.”

Matthew Murphy

Best Play, as expected, went to The Lehman Trilogy, directed by Sam Mendes (who also won Best Director, Play), the play charting in a deeply involving production the history of the famous bank, its three lead actors playing multiple characters in a revolving glass cube. All three were nominated for Best Actor in a Play, with Simon Russell Beale emerging victorious, confessing to feeling “sheepish” at having beaten castmates Adrian Lester and Adam Godley, and vowing to share the gong with them.

Adam Godley, Simon Russell Beale, and Adrian Lester in “The Lehman Trilogy.”

Julieta Cervantes

Deirdre O’Connell emerged victorious in the intensely competitive Best Actress (Play) category for her astonishing inhabitation of Dana H., the mother of playwright Lucas Hnath, who was kidnapped and raped by a man. She later recited her ordeal in interviews, which O’Connell then lip-synched in a mesmerizing tour de force first performed, off-Broadway, before the pandemic. In her winner’s speech, O’Connell beseeched that theater creators remained dedicated to the pursuit of “weird art.” Phylicia Rashad won the Tony in the featured actress (Play) category, for her role as Faye, the leader of a group of Detroit workers in Skeleton Crew.

Myles Frost and cast in “MJ, the Musical.”

Matthew Murphy

Best Revival of a Play went to gay baseball drama Take Me Out, with Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson winning his first Tony award in the featured actor (Play) category—again, against two other castmates in the category—for his role as a besuited business manager growingly bewitched by the game. He thanked his parents for letting him to come to New York at 17: “I told you it was going to be OK.”

75th Tony Awards: the nominees and winners by category

Best Play

Clyde’s

Hangmen

The Lehman Trilogy WINNER

The Minutes

Skeleton Crew

Best Musical

Girl from the North Country

MJ the Musical

Mr. Saturday Night

Paradise Square

SIX: The Musical

A Strange Loop WINNER

Best Revival of a Play

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Take Me Out WINNER

Trouble in Mind

Best Revival of a Musical

Caroline, or Change

Company WINNER

The Music Man

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy WINNER

Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy

Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy

David Morse, How I Learned to Drive

Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues

David Threlfall, Hangmen

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Gabby Beans, The Skin of Our Teeth

LaChanze, Trouble in Mind

Ruth Negga, Macbeth

Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H. WINNER

Mary-Louise Parker, How I Learned to Drive

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night

Myles Frost, MJ WINNER

Hugh Jackman, The Music Man

Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire

Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change

Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset

Sutton Foster, The Music Man

Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square WINNER

Mare Winningham, Girl from The North Country

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Alfie Allen, Hangmen

Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out WINNER

Ron Cephas Jones, Clydes

Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out

Jesse Williams, Take Me Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Uzo Aduba, Clydes

Rachel Dratch, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

Kenita R. Miller, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew WINNER

Julie White, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

Kara Young, Clydes

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Matt Doyle, Company WINNER

Sidney DuPont, Paradise Square

Jared Grimes, Funny Girl

John-Andrew Morrison, A Strange Loop

A.J. Shively, Paradise Square

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Jeannette Bayardelle, Girl from The North Country

Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night

Jayne Houdyshell, The Music Man

L Morgan Lee, A Strange Loop

Patti LuPone, Company WINNER

Jennifer Simard, Company

Best Direction of a Play

Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Skin of Our Teeth

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy WINNER

Neil Pepe, American Buffalo

Les Waters, Dana H.

Best Direction of a Musical

Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop

Marianne Elliott, Company WINNER

Conor McPherson, Girl from The North Country

Lucy Moss & Jamie Armitage, SIX: The Musical

Christopher Wheeldon, MJ

Best Choreography

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Warren Carlyle, The Music Man

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, SIX: The Musical

Bill T. Jones, Paradise Square

Christopher Wheeldon, MJ WINNER

Best Orchestrations

David Cullen, Company

Tom Curran, SIX: The Musical

Simon Hale, Girl from The North Country WINNER

Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ

Charlie Rosen, A Strange Loop

Best Book of a Musical

Girl From The North Country, Conor McPherson

MJ, Lynn Nottage

Mr. Saturday Night, Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel

Paradise Square, Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas & Larry Kirwan

A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson WINNER

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Flying Over Sunset Music: Tom Kitt Lyrics: Michael Korie

Mr. Saturday Night Music: Jason Robert Brown Lyrics: Amanda Green

Paradise Square Music: Jason Howland; Lyrics: Nathan Tysen & Masi Asare

SIX: The Musical Music and Lyrics: Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss WINNER

A Strange Loop Music & Lyrics: Michael R. Jackson

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

Michael Carnahan and Nicholas Hussong, Skeleton Crew

Es Devlin, The Lehman Trilogy WINNER

Anna Fleischle, Hangmen

Scott Pask, American Buffalo

Adam Rigg, The Skin of Our Teeth

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Beowulf Boritt and 59 Productions, Flying Over Sunset

Bunny Christie, Company WINNER

Arnulfo Maldonado, A Strange Loop

Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini, MJ

Allen Moyer, Paradise Square

Best Costume Design of a Play

Montana Levi Blanco, The Skin of Our Teeth WINNER

Sarafina Bush, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Emilio Sosa, Trouble in Mind

Jane Greenwood, Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite

Jennifer Moeller, Clydes

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Fly Davis, Caroline, or Change

Toni-Leslie James, Paradise Square

William Ivey Long, Diana the Musical

Santo Loquasto, The Music Man

Gabriella Slade, SIX: The Musical WINNER

Paul Tazewell, MJ

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Joshua Carr, Hangmen

Jiyoun Chang, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Jon Clark, The Lehman Trilogy WINNER

Jane Cox, Macbeth

Yi Zhao, The Skin of Our Teeth

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Neil Austin, Company

Tim Deiling, SIX: The Musical

Donald Holder, Paradise Square

Natasha Katz, MJ WINNER

Bradley King, Flying Over Sunset

Jen Schriever, A Strange Loop

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H. WINNER

Palmer Hefferan, The Skin of Our Teeth

Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey, The Lehman Trilogy

Mikaal Sulaiman, Macbeth

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Simon Baker, Girl from The North Country

Paul Gatehouse, SIX: The Musical

Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Company

Drew Levy, A Strange Loop

Gareth Owen, MJ WINNER

Lifetime achievement award: Angela Lansbury

75th Tony Awards—the awards by production

The Lehman Trilogy – 5

Company – 5

MJ – 4

A Strange Loop – 2

Dana H. – 2

Take Me Out – 2

SIX: The Musical – 2

Paradise Square – 1

Skeleton Crew – 1

The Skin of Our Teeth – 1

Girl from The North Country – 1



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