The Tony Awards return after two-year hiatus

(Screenshot from YouTube)

The Tony Awards made its return to Radio City Music Hall Sunday after a two-year hiatus, celebrating the revival of Broadway with a bang.

The Tony Awards have been a widely adored awards ceremony since 1947, granting awards to the Broadway scene for 75 years. Due to multiple safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, the historical awards ceremony has not been able to happen since June of 2019.

he night was hosted by Oscar-winning “West Side Story” actress Ariana DeBose. DeBose filled the three-hour awards show with a handful of performances and jokes to keep the audience entertained.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun. I’m trying to keep it light, keep it joyful, say a little something that maybe we need to hear. But we’re celebrating,” she said before the event began. “It feels great. I am, in the words of Stephen Sondheim, ‘ited and scared.’”

Among the winners was “A Strange Loop” for best musical. The 11-time-nominated show features Usher, a Black queer man, and his relationship between himself and his art. Michael R. Jackson, the show’s playwright, accepted the award onstage and celebrated his nearly two-decade journey of creating the musical.

“I wrote it at a time when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” Jackson said. “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.”

Of the 11 nominations granted, “A Strange Loop” also won the category for best book of a musical.

Taking home the award for best play revival was “Take Me Out,” featuring Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Williams. The play, which originally ran in 2003, features the story of a baseball player that comes out as gay. Ferguson was also awarded his first Tony for his role as the baseball player’s investment adviser, who is also gay.

As a pleasant change to the evening’s events, the focus often shifted to the swings and understudies of the Broadway world. Due to the constant waves of COVID-19, understudies have often had to step up at the last minute to fill the place of an actor and keep the show going.

“A show is put on by many people, not just the faces that you know and love,” said DeBose in her opening monologue.

Although there are no awards designated for understudies, several winners and presenters took time out of their acceptance speeches to thank the people in the wings of their theaters.

The 2022 Tony Awards serves as a marker that Broadway is steadily climbing back to success. After a rough season of many cancellations and low audience count, Sunday’s celebration proves the performers are yet to give up on their shows.

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