The curtain has come down on the 75th Annual Tony Awards, with A Strange Loop and The Lehman Trilogy coming away with the top honors of Best Musical and Best Play, respectively. See the full list of winners here.
This year's ceremony was back at Radio City Music Hall. As always, the telecast was full of fantastic performances, heartfelt acceptance speeches, hilarious moments, and more. Here are seven of the most memorable moments from the 2022 Tony Awards.
"This Is Your Round of Applause"
Oscar winner Ariana DeBose kicked off the three-hour The 75th Annual Tony Awards on CBS (also available on Paramount+) with a dazzling opening number that saluted 30 different Broadway hits. Penned by SIX Tony winners Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow as well as Kurt Crowley and Benjamin M. Rauhala, the dynamic number—paying tribute to all of the talent required to stage a Broadway musical—showcased the host’s vocal and dancing prowess while energizing the Radio City audience for the terrific evening to come. Watch the opening, entitled “This Is Your Round of Applause,” here.
Samuel L. Jackson and Lin-Manuel Miranda Help Billy Crystal Scat…In Yiddish
Billy Crystal leaned heavily into audience participation in his performance of the number “Stick Around” from Mr. Saturday Night. “You guys like jazz scat singing?” he asked from the stage. “What I’m gonna do is Yiddish scat singing.” After providing an example of just what that genre sounds like, Crystal ventured to the audience for a little help, hitting up Samuel L. Jackson and Lin-Manuel Miranda along the way. Crystal even worked a nod to Manuel’s own hit musical into his lyrics: “I’m Alexander…Rabinowitz,” he sang, coaxing a giggling Lin to echo.
"I’m the next bride!"
As Matt Doyle finished his acceptance speech for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his work in Company, he turned to a line he says eight times a week in the Sondheim revival: “I’m the next bride!” Beyond being a call back to his Tony-winning performance, Doyle shared in the press room why he chose to say the line on stage: “Especially coming from the perspective of a gay man, now, when [marriage equality] wasn't even a right that we had in the last [Company] revival in 2006, it was so important to him that that was joyful and celebrated. At first I was playing it in a really internal way…and walking off quietly. And he was like, ‘That is not it. You need to yell that line!’ So when we came back from the pandemic, I just remembered I have to yell that as joyfully and as big as possible—And that was something that I know he was thrilled about nightly.”
Michael R. Jackson to the Tony Awards Audience: "Shut Up!"
A Strange Loop writer Michael R. Jackson was visibly happy to take in the love and applause coming at him from the audience at Radio City Music Hall when accepted his Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, but make no mistake—he had things to say. “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” Jackson lovingly told the crowd so he could get his acceptance speech out before being cut off for time, displaying the same no-holds-barred humor that is a hallmark of his writing.
Myles of Talent
Newcomer Myles Frost—who won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his Broadway debut as the late King of Pop Michael Jackson in MJ—managed to draw laughs and tears in his open-hearted acceptance speech that also included an impromptu song and dance. After joking, “I really gotta pee right now, so I’ll keep it quick,” the multi-talented artist said, “Mom, I love you so, so, much. Without you, there would be no me… You have taught me and shown me what a strong Black woman is and what it means to raise a strong Black man, and I just pray that I made you proud. I want to say this to all the little Black kids out there, who may not have a good relationship with their father. You can do it, first of all, and second of all, Dad, I love you, because we support each other and we are Black men, and we are strong Black men at that.” Frost also acknowledged the late Jackson, saying, “I thank you all and as Michael would say, with love, with love, heal the world."
A "Family" Reunion
Joaquina Kalukango earned not only a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her turn as Nelly O'Brien in the new musical Paradise Square, but also a standing ovation from the audience when her name was announced. The award was presented by Tony winner Cynthia Erivo and Tony nominee Danielle Brooks, Kalukango's co-stars in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple— to their sister, they said. Just prior to the win, Kalukango sang the powerful number "Let It Burn" as part of Paradise Square's performance. "I give thanks to the nameless ancestors who have suffered. This song, this show gives power to that," she said in her emotional acceptance speech before exiting the stage giddily arm-in-arm with Brooks and Erivo.
Understudy to the Rescue
Mallory Maedke, assistant choreographer and dance captain at Broadway's SIX, also serves as one of the production's alternates—an increasingly important role as the industry continues to deal with breakthrough cases of COVID. The morning of June 12, SIX star Abby Mueller tested positive for COVID-19, making it impossible for her to perform with the rest of the company on the telecast, leaving Maedke just 12 hours to prepare to step into the heels of Jane Seymour for the production's Tony Awards performance of "Ex-Wives / Six." Host Ariana DeBose singled Maedke out following their performance: "I want everybody to hear this, because this is what tonight is all about! Mallory Maedke! This woman is the dance captain and alternate who was put into this number 12 hours ago. It's what they do, because the show must go on!" In a year punctuated by last minute changes and companies coming together to overcome challenges, we celebrate Maedke and performers like her who keep their shows alive!