Tonys Latest: ‘Hairspray’ number kicks off show
The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):
The pandemic-delayed Tony Awards kicked off Sunday with an energetic performance of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray!”
The optimistic number was performed for masked and appreciative audience at a packed Winter Garden Theatre. Host Audra McDonald got a standing ovation. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City!” she said.
She called it less than a prom and more like a homecoming and that it was wonderful to see half everyone’s faces. She said Broadway had been knocked out by COVID-19 for 560 nights. She also hoped to see actions that could make it a more equitable place.
David Alan Grier was the night’s first winner, taking home the featured actor in a play Tony for “A Soldier’s Play.”
MORE ON THE TONYS
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
The red carpet for the Tony Awards is underway and stars are praising the return of live theater.
David Byrne, the Talking Heads frontman whose musical “American Utopia” is among Sunday’s honorees, says he’s started going to shows as a spectator and it’s “amazing feeling.
“The audiences are overjoyed,” Byrne says. “They’re happy to see the shows, but they’re happy to just see one another, to be in the same room with other people. It’s really exciting.”
Leslie Odom Jr., who became a household name playing Aaron Burr in the original “Hamilton” run, is hosting a special tribute to Broadway that’s airing on CBS Sunday night. He says he’s confident that people will appreciate theater and its performers more now that the they’ve returned.
“I think we’re going to return with a new sense of gratitude,” Odom says.
“Jagged Little Pill” goes into the Tony Awards telecast on the defensive, dogged by two controversies.
A former cast member, Nora Schell, a Black nonbinary actor who made their Broadway debut in the chorus in 2019, posted a statement this week on social media describing repeated instances early in the run of the show in which they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”
“Jagged Little Pill” producers — saying they are “deeply troubled” by the claims — have hired an independent investigator and the union Actors Equity Association said Sunday it was also commissioning “a thorough, independent investigation” of the show’s workplace.
In another controversy, the show’s producers have apologized to fans for changing a character from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
The Oscars, Grammys, Emmys and Golden Globes have all held their ceremonies during the pandemic. Now it’s time for the Tony Awards, celebrating an art form that really needs the boost — live theater.
Sunday’s show has been expanded from its typical three hours to four, with Audra McDonald handing out Tonys for the first two hours and Leslie Odom Jr. hosting a “Broadway’s Back!” celebration for the second half, including the awarding of the top three trophies — best play revival, best play and best musical.
The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, goes into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations.
Nipping on its heels is “Moulin Rouge!,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub that has 14 nods.
“Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, earned a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history.