Tonys Latest: Odom Jr., Byrne kick off CBS Broadway tribute
The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):
Leslie Odom Jr. has kicked off a nationally televised tribute to Broadway with a musical number that mingled Broadway stars with the strangeness of the pandemic conditions.
Broadway dancers performed behind Odom during the energetic number, which saw performers from “The Lion King” and “Wicked” make brief appearances. The song mixed tributes to live theater with pleas to the audience to keep their masks on and those watching at home to get vaccinated.
Odom walked into the audience, giving shoutouts to Broadway nominee Tom Hiddleston, legendary performer Chita Rivera and his “Hamilton” co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The actor then tossed to David Byrne, who performed “Burning Down the House” with performers from his “American Utopia” stage production.
MORE ON THE TONYS
— ‘Moulin Rouge!’ leads Tonys haul, but 3 big trophies to come
— Select list of winners at Sunday’s Tony Awards
— Tonys: Broadway hopes to razzle-dazzle its way out pandemic
— Tonywatch: Aaron Tveit rides a roller coaster of a year
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
Adrienne Warren has won the Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical for her electric turn as Tina Turner.
Warren was considered the front-runner for the award thanks to becoming a one-woman fireball of energy and exhilaration. She beat out Karen Olivo of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and Elizabeth Stanley from “Jagged Little Pill.”
Warren, who was nominated for an Olivier Award for her turn as Turner in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” in the West End, wins her first Tony.
Her other credits include “Bring It On” — the loose stage adaptation of the hit cheerleading movie — and received a Tony nomination for featured actress in a musical for her role in “Shuffle Along.”
Warren, a co-founder of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, recently wrapped filming of the ABC limited series “Women of the Movement.”
Mary-Louise Parker won best actress in a play for “The Sound Inside.”
In a surprise to no one, Aaron Tveit has won the Tony Award for best leading actor in a musical. That’s because he was the only person nominated in the category.
The win caps a remarkable year for the Broadway star. He was wowing fans in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” when it was suddenly shuttered by the coronavirus. Then he contracted COVID-19 himself. He recovered to lend his voice to relief efforts, got a few high-profile acting gigs — including “Schmigadoon!” — and then landed his first Tony nomination. Now he’s won, needing 60% of Tony voters voted for him in the category.
Tveit’s first big gig was in a “Rent” tour and he made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “Hairspray” and then “Wicked.”
He then had three starring roles in “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and now “Moulin Rouge!” His film work includes the adaptation of “Les Misérables” and on TV he was in “Graceland,” “BrainDead” and “Grease Live!”
Andrew Burnap has won the Tony for best lead actor in a play on his Broadway debut.
Burnap starred in “The Inheritance,” Matthew Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century. Burnap played Toby Darling — a vivacious, talented, and deeply troubled playwright who unearths childhood demons.
Burnap grew up in Rhode Island, where during the summer he would work at his local ice cream shop. He graduated from Yale School of Drama, and acted in regional theaters and off-Broadway.
He and Lopez actually met each other before “The Inheritance” when Burnap did Lopez’s play “The Legend of George McBride” in Los Angeles, a happier story about a straight man who learns how to be a drag queen.
For the Tony, Burnap beat out Blair Underwood from “A Soldier’s Play,” Ian Barford from “Linda Vista,” Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge both from “Sea Wall/A Life” and Tom Hiddleston of “Betrayal.”
Alex Timbers has won the trophy for best direction of a musical for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
It is Timbers’ first Tony. The show is about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like “Single Ladies” and “Firework” alongside the big hit “Lady Marmalade.”
Timbers has been nominated twice before, for directing “Peter and the Starcatcher” in 2012 and directing and writing “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” He has been a production consultant on David Byrne’s “American Utopia,” directed “Rocky” and “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and is directing “Beetlejuice” for the second time next spring.
He picked up a Lucille Lortel Award for directing the off-Broadway production of “Here Lies Love” and went on to direct the show at London’s National Theatre. Other notable off-Broadway credits include the “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in Central Park and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2016 revival of “The Robber Bridegroom.”
For the Tony, he beat Phyllida Lloyd of “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and Diane Paulus of “Jagged Little Pill.”
Stephen Daldry now has a trio of Tony Awards for directing.
He won Sunday for helming “The Inheritance,” playwright Matthew Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
Daldry had previously won for “Billy Elliot: The Musical” and “An Inspector Calls.” He also was a nominee in 2015 for “Skylight” and directed Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience.
Daldry directs and executive produces the Netflix series “The Crown” and was creative executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
For the Tony, he beat David Cromer from “The Sound Inside,” Kenny Leon from “A Soldier’s Play,” Jamie Lloyd and “Betrayal” and Robert O’Hara with “Slave Play.”
Lauren Patten has edged out her co-stars from “Jagged Little Pill” to win the award for best featured actress in a musical.
The show plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a fictional story of a family spiraling out of control. Patten plays teenage lesbian Jo in the show and gets to belt out the song “You Oughta Know.”
After opening in New York, “Jagged Little Pill” producers have apologized to fans for changing Jo from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
Growing up in Downers Grove, Illinois, Patten was drawn to the performing arts early on, and by age 4, had begun appearing in commercials and community theater productions. Patten, who has been on Broadway before in “Fun Home,” has a recurring role on the CBS crime drama “Blue Bloods.”
For the Tony, she beat out Kathryn Gallagher and Celia Rose Gooding from “Jagged Little Pill,” Robyn Hurder from “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and Myra Lucretia Taylor of “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.”
Broadway favorite Danny Burstein has won his first Tony Award after seven nominations.
The actor won for best actor in a featured role in a musical for playing the ingratiating nightclub host Harold Zidler in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
He said he shared the award with his fellow nominees and thanked his son. He also thanks the Broadway community for supporting him when his wife died. “I love being an actor on Broadway.”
Broadway audiences have cheered Burstein for his soulful showmanship in such musicals as “South Pacific,” “Golden Boy,” “Follies,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Cabaret” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
He made his Broadway debut in 1992 in “A Little Hotel on the Side” and went on to star in dramas like “The Seagull” to musical comedies like “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
Shortly after the Broadway shutdown in March 2020, he was hospitalized with a near-fatal case of COVID-19. And in that December, his wife of 20 years, Broadway leading lady Rebecca Luker, died from ALS.
Theater veteran Lois Smith has won her first Tony for “The Inheritance.”
She won for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play. Smith previously earned nominations for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1990 and “Buried Child” in 1996.
In “The Inheritance,” Smith plays a major featured role that doesn’t appear onstage until late in the play’s two-show, seven-hour running time. Matthew Lopez’s epic uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
Smith has acted in such movies as “East of Eden,” “Five Easy Pieces” and “Lady Bird.” TV audiences will recognize her from appearances on “Route 66,” “ER” or “True Blood.” She made her Broadway debut in 1952 in “Time Out for Ginger.”
Other films credits include “Black Widow,” “Falling Down,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Twister,” “How to Make an American Quilt,” “Dead Man Walking,” ”Minority Report,” “Marjorie Prime” and “Ladybird.”
David Alan Grier has won his first Tony for “A Soldier’s Play.”
Grier played a stern Army sergeant in Charles Fuller’s play, set on an Army base in Louisiana during World War II. A Black investigator has been called to find out who murdered the black sergeant of an all-Black company.
He thanked his director, Kenny Leon. “And to my other nominees: Tough bananas, I won.”
One of Grier’s earliest roles was in a small part in the off-Broadway debut of “A Soldier’s Play” when he was in his 20s. He revisited the work when it was turned into a 1984 movie. This is his third bite of the apple and it has yielded the Tony for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play.
Grier studied acting at Yale and has had a career on stage (“Dreamgirls”), on TV (“In Living Color” and “DAG”) and film (“Jumanji” and “Native Son”). He previously earned Tony nominations for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” “The First” and “Race.”
For the Tony, Grier beat Ato Blankson-Wood and James Cusati-Moyer from “Slave Play” and John Benjamin Hickey and Paul Hilton of “The Inheritance.”
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.”
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.