This year’s winners featured some Broadway veterans, including Patti LuPone, picking up her third Tony Award for her ferocious turn as an alcohol-addled married friend of the chronically single protagonist in “Company”; and Phylicia Rashad, winning her second Tony for playing a factory worker in “Skeleton Crew.” Among the other performers who collected Tony Awards: Joaquina Kalukango, for her starring role as a 19th-century New York City tavern owner in “Paradise Square”; Matt Doyle, who played a groom with a zany case of wedding day jitters in “Company,” and Deirdre O’Connell, who won for her remarkable lip-synced performance as a kidnapping victim in the play “Dana H.”
“I would love for this little prize to be a token for every person who is wondering, ‘Should I be trying to make something that could work on Broadway or that could win me a Tony Award, or should I be making the weird art that is haunting me, that frightens me, that I don’t know how to make, that I don’t know if anyone in the whole world will understand?’” O’Connell said. “Please let me, standing here, be a little sign to you from the universe to make the weird art.”
“A Strange Loop” tells the story of a Broadway usher, named Usher, who is trying to write a musical about a Broadway usher trying to write a musical; his thoughts, many of them self-critical, are portrayed by six performers, who each appear in multiple guises. The musical began its life Off Broadway, with a 2019 production at Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions. After winning the Pulitzer, it had another pre-Broadway production at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, D.C., as Jackson continued polishing the show in preparation for this year’s commercial production on Broadway.
“Six” and “MJ,” although unsuccessful in the six-way race for best new musical, did notch some big victories.
“Six” picked up the Tony Award for best score during the first minutes of the ceremony. Its music and lyrics were written by two young British artists, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, who came up with the idea while undergraduates at Cambridge University, and who were discovered by a commercial producer following a buzz-building first run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The musical’s costume designer, Gabriella Slade, also won a Tony for her Tudor-style-meets-contemporary-clubwear outfits.
“MJ” also landed key prizes, including for the lead performance by Myles Frost, a 22-year-old in his first professional stage role, and for the crowd-pleasing choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, who also directed the musical.