Tony Awards kick off with non-acting honors handed out in New York


Darren Criss and Julianne Hough kicked off the four-hour Tony Awards celebrations at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night, primarily handing out design awards exclusively on the Paramount+ broadcast.

Criss opened the broadcast with the original song, “Set the Stage,” as he and Hough briskly climbed stairs, into laundry hampers and on sliding seats to celebrate the artists who keep theater alive.

The first prize of the night, for best soundtrack, went to “Six: The Musical”, with music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Marlow is the first non-binary songwriter and lyricist to win a Tony.

Criss and Hough have one hour to hand out a total of eight technical awards for things like best lighting and sound design, along with best score, orchestration and choreography. They will then pass hosting duties to Ariana DeBose for the three-hour main broadcast on CBS and Paramount+ from the same stage, live from coast to coast for the first time.

The season, with 34 new productions, represents a full return to theaters after almost two years of mandatory closure due to the pandemic. At the last Tonys nine months ago, the winners were selected from just 18 eligible plays and musicals, and many of the competitive categories were sold out.

DeBose, the Tony-nominated and Oscar-winning theater veteran recently minted for “West Side Story,” said a Broadway party is expected.

“I feel like if ever there was a time, the time is now,” he said. “I think it’s a triumph just to have gotten to this point, to have made art and to have a show.”

The telecast will feature performances from this year’s Tony Award-nominated musicals, including “A Strange Loop,” “Company,” “Girl from the North Country,” “MJ,” “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Music Man ” “. Paradise Square” and “Six”. The original cast members of the 2007 Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening” will also re-team and perform.

“A Strange Loop,” a theatrical meta-journey about a playwright writing a musical, comes to the show with 11 Tony Award nominations. Following close behind, with 10 nominations each, is “MJ,” a King of Pop biomusical jam-packed with his biggest hits, and “Paradise Square,” a musical about Irish and African-American immigrants struggling to survive in New York City in the time of the civil war.

The favorites for best actress in a musical are Sharon D Clarke from the revival of “Caroline, or Change” and Joaquina Kalukango from “Paradise Square.” Best actor in a musical might be Jaquel Spivey from “A Strange Loop” versus Myles Frost as the King of Pop in “MJ the Musical.”

“The Lehman Trilogy,” Stefano Massini’s 150-year work on what led to the collapse of financial giant Lehman Brothers, is the top contender for best new work, while David Morse in a revival of “How I Learned to Drive Paula Vogel’s is the top contender for best actor in a play. His co-star, Mary-Louise Parker, could become the first actor to win back-to-back Tony Awards for best actress in a play.

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