Following the Pandemic break, the 74th Tony Awards was held last Sunday. It honoured the best achievements of the 2019-2020 Broadway season.
There was a unique format in the ceremony. The first half of the ceremony was hosted by Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, who holds the record for the most performance wins.
Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr. helmed the rest of the ceremony. The final three awards, Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical, were presented during the primetime special.
The show’s producers ensured the evening was playful and yet always sincere and optimistic. “Masks” and “inclusivity” were the theme of the evening.
Although there were several nominees of colour for this year’s Tonys, most of the trophies went to white nominees. A lot of critiques have said this is a reminder of the entertainment’s lip service to equity, diversity and inclusion.
Among the notable snubs was Slave Play, which got shut out despite entering the night with 12 nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history.
Instead, the epic economically staged production of “The Inheritance” took not just the top award for play but also trophies for director Stephen Daldry, leading actor Andrew Burnap and featured actress Lois Smith. “Slave Play” came away from the night empty-handed.
"Jagged Little Pill," the musical featuring songs and music written by Alanis Morissette, received the most nominations with 15, including for Best Musical. "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" followed close behind with 14 and took home the big prize of Best Musical.
In the past, the Tonys would probably have ignored or evaded anything even remotely controversial.
But this year, the ceremony faced some issues head-on, in sequences including the impassioned combination of spoken word and tap that honoured the Broadway Advocacy Coalition’s Tony win.
In her acceptance speech, Lauren Patten acknowledged the ongoing outcry and social-media dialogue over the shifting depictions of her character’s “gender journey” in “Jagged Little Pill.”
And in a reflection of the recent awareness of working conditions in the theatre, orchestrators praised the dedication and talent of pit musicians, and design winners all made a point of thanking the fleets of workers that execute their designs.
Because of the abbreviated 2019-2020 performance season, eligibility rules limited the number of contenders.