Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tony Awards 2024: Stereophonic, Merrily We Roll Along and The Outsiders win big | Tony Awards

The 77th annual Tony Awards were dominated by major hits for shows like Stereophonic, Merrily We Roll Along and The Outsiders, and stars Jeremy Strong and Daniel Radcliffe.

Stereophonic is the most nominated play in Tonys history with 13 nominations, winning five, including Best Play. It tells the story of a British-American rock band trying to make an album in the 1970s.

Playwright David Adjmi talked about how it took him 11 years to get to the stage. “It’s very difficult to build a career in the arts, and we need to fund the arts in America,” he said on stage. Gloria Oladipo of The Guardian, in a five-star review, called it “a triumphant example of what happens when art has time to develop”.

The revival of Stephen Sondheim’s once-failed musical Merrily We Roll Along won four awards. The show, which closed abruptly after its 1981 release, won Best Revival of a Musical, while stars Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Graf won for their performances.

Radcliffe thanked his parents for playing Sondheim in the car and called the play “one of the best experiences of my life” while paying tribute to his cast and crew. “I don’t get this kind of advantage anymore,” he said.

Groff, who has been nominated twice before, gave an emotional speech in which she said “musical theater still saves my soul” and paid tribute to her parents for letting her be.

Daniel Radcliffe, pictured at the Sunday Night Tonys. Photo: Steve Eichner/Rex/Shutterstock

Oscar winner Angelina Jolie’s The Outsiders, based on SE Hinton’s novel, also won three other awards for best musical score. Tanya Deimer, niece of acclaimed director Julie Deimer, won the award for best director of the year.

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Emmy-winning heir star Jeremy Strong won for lead actor in a drama for his performance in An Enemy of the People, winning against Liev Schreiber and William Jackson Harper. He called Henrik Ibsen’s cautionary eco-drama “a cry from the heart” for the “hard truths that stare us now”.

Jeremy Strong accepted the Tony for his performance in An Enemy of the People. Photo: Theo Vargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Hell’s Kitchen, based on the life of Alicia Keys and featuring her music, won two awards for actors Malaya Zoe Moon and Keziah Lewis. Keys also performed Empire State of Mind on stage with Jay-Z.

Darkly comic family drama Appropriate won best revival of a play and Sarah Paulson won best actress in a leading role, beating out Jessica Lange and Rachel McAdams. He thanked playwright Brandon Jacobs Jenkins for giving him a character he had “the hope to see” and talked about why theater is an important way to discover what it means to be human. It also won for lighting design of a play.

Host Ariana DeBose paid tribute to an “ambitious Broadway season” with 36 new productions. “Headlines are often frightening, but theater is a safe place for all of us,” he said. He then joked about his viral BAFTA rap last year, saying he would write a three-hour musical based on it.

The event was hosted by Ariana DeBose. Photo: Theo Vargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

The night was packed with A-listers who have been behind the scenes this season, including Oscar winner Jolie, Oscar nominee Taraji B Henson and Hillary Clinton. To a standing ovation, Clinton spoke about the importance of voting as she introduced Suffs, a suffragette musical.

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Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald and Bebe Neuwirth led a special tribute to Chita Rivera, who died in January at the age of 91. “The air sparkled when she walked on stage,” Neuwirth said of McDonald, one of the “greatest” voices on Broadway.

Recommended shows that came away empty handed were The Notebook, Mary Jane, Days of Wine and Roses, Lempikka and Mother Play.

The 2023 festival took place during a writers’ strike, meaning DeBose, who hosted last year, was left without a script for the night. Last year’s big winners included Tom Stoppard’s family drama Leopoldstadt and Jodie Comer.

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