My Top 10 Favorite Moments From The 2022 Tony Awards

Ok, we are back with a capital T.  

Sunday’s T for Tony Awards felt like The Tony Awards of old – yet not. They were at their usual time of year.  There were surprises and upsets.  And no one (in the orchestra anyway) . . . was wearing masks.

I even live-tweeted the thing, I was so excited!  (Tonys, I missed you so much!)

You know what else is back?  My blog recap of my Top 10 Favorite Moments.  And here they are:

 1. Ariana DeBose as The Host With The EVERYTHING

There was a moment during the show when Ariana was standing next to Billy Crystal.  It could have been so easy to ask Billy to host the show.  And he would have been his usual great self – but how wonderful that he did NOT host this year.  And instead, we had one of the best representatives for Broadway we could have:  Ariana DeBose.  After she stars in her next show, I’d like to send her to Washington to lobby on our behalf.  Because no one is going to refuse this superstar anything.

2. Scattin’ Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal did a routine that has been done millions of times – a good ol’ fashioned call and response, with a competition between sections of the audience and all.  And yet, he made it seem brand spankin’ new.  (A little yiddish didn’t hurt.)  A reminder to us all – involving your audience is a great way to engage them.  I was scattin’ at my screen!

3. Shout Outs for Covid Safety Managers!

Before 2020, this is a gig that didn’t even exist!  And now, Broadway couldn’t happen without them.  I was so glad to hear that CSMs got several thank yous, since they’ve kept us safe all year long.

4. Michael R. Jackson’s Reminder That It Takes Time

In Mr. Jackson’s speech after his win for Best Book in A Strange Loop, he said he started writing his show when he was 23.  He’s now 41.  He.  Did.  Not.  Give.  Up.  Remember that if you ever get the urge to pack it in.

5. The First Non-Binary Tony Award Winner

Toby Marlow became the first Non-Binary Tony Award Winner with his win with Lucy Moss for Best Score for their global phenomenon, SIX.  (Oh, and by the way, did you know that Six first appeared at a fringe festival?  Yeah, so, maybe a fringe festival wouldn’t be such a bad place for your show to start either.)

6. The Sondheim Letters

Loved hearing about the famous Sondheim letters he sent to everyone, and how they were his way of teaching.  Makes so much sense that a genius with words would help so many with his letters.  Oh, and PS, the performance of “Children Will Listen” by Ms. Peters was pretty damn special too.

7. Joaquina Kalukango’s Performance from Paradise Square

I have no words.  If you missed it.  Watch it.  You will be speechless too.

And to all you performers out there?  Joaquina was a cover in my revival of Godspell.  10 years ago, she was an understudy.  Today she’s starring in a Broadway show, and she brought the house down at The Tony Awards . . . oh, and then she won.  Time, Talent and Tenacity.

8. Make “The Weird Art”

One of the biggest surprises of the night was Deirdre O’Connell’s win for Dana H.  I was worried that not enough voters saw or remembered her fantastic performance from the fall.  In one of the best speeches of the night, she talked about the argument inside ourselves that so many of us have . . . make the theater you think Broadway wants or make the theater you want to make.

“Make the weird art,” she said in her speech.  She is a living testament to doing what you love, not what you think other people will love. 

9. The Surprise SIX Shout Out To The Dance Captain

SIX knocked ‘em dead. (Get it?)  And one of those in the number didn’t know she was going to be in the number 12 hours before the Tonys, said Ariana DeBose.  Understudies, swings and standbys have always kept our curtains up.  But this year?  They are our most valuable players.  Thanks to Ariana for shining a light on these vital parts of our performing corps. 

 10. A Strange Loop – a win for the show and a win for Broadway

Every few years a show comes along and gives the audience a show they didn’t think they’d want, but that they needed.  Rent, Spring Awakening, Fun Home, etc. 

And that show also pushes Broadway into a fantastic new direction, not only making a success out of that musical, but inspiring so many other writers to push the envelope as well.  A Strange Loop is this year’s Best Musical.  And Broadway will be so much better off for decades to come, because of it.

Hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did.  And I hope it inspired YOU to want to be on that stage soon enough.

Did you have a favorite moment that I missed?  Tell me in the comments below!

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.