My Top 5 Moments from the 2019 Tony Awards!

I just realized something.

Last night was my 30th anniversary of watching the Tony Awards.  And over the last three decades, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things, from Jonathan Larson’s sister accepting his posthumous trophy in 1996, saying, “It took Johnny fifteen years of really hard work to become an overnight sensation,” to the drama students from Parkland delivering the same Jonathan Larson’s hopeful “Seasons of Love” at the 2018 Tonys in spite of the tragedy they had just lived through.

And last night’s telecast had a bunch of special moments of its own.  Here are my Top 5 that got me to laugh, applaud, and made my heart thump a little harder:

  1. 3 out of the 4 Big Prizes were produced by Women.  Women had a great night overall, starting with Rachel Chavkin expectedly grabbing the Director prize (and also delivering a passionate speech about gender equality). But what I think people glossed over was the fact that the Best Musical prize, the Best Revival Prize, and the Best Play prize were all Lead Produced by women (the creatively courageous Mara Isaacs, Eva Price, and Sonia Friedman, respectively).  I ran these numbers a year ago and discovered that only 28% of all plays and musicals were Lead Produced by women.  So seeing and hearing from those three ladies at that podium was another step in the right direction, especially since LPs have such a crucial voice in the assembling of creative teams.  Congrats to them all.
  2. A win for all those with “Super Abilities.”  I was lucky enough to work with Ali Stroker on Spring Awakening and knew in an instant that this lady wasn’t going to let her wheelchair get in the way of achieving anything and everything she wanted.  And her speech said it perfectly.  There are kids of all different super abilities all over the world right now that have proof . . . actual, hard, statistical proof that it doesn’t effin’ matter what “limitation” the world may think you have, you can get to wherever you want to be.
  3. Two words . . . James Corden.  Enough said.  Except, can we please have a lifetime contract with him?  Great.  Thanks.
  4. The Hints at Next Season.  Award shows are intended to recognize excellence in an industry, but honestly, they are mostly a marketing tool for that same industry.  And that’s why I loved the little hints we got at the big shows opening next season.  Whether it was the mention of Sutton Foster appearing in Music Man or hearing from Moulin Rouge actor Danny Burstein, or even Audra McD talking about the currently running Frankie and Johnny (I liked that one especially since I’m a co-pro on it), I couldn’t help but think that my sixteen-year-old self would have started planning when I could come in to see . . . all of them.  I know there is never enough time to celebrate all the shows running in the current season, never mind the next one.  But on Broadway’s biggest night, the more we can plug what’s coming, the better for the biz.
  5. Yes, those are all the Producers and more.  There was a scuttlebutt scandal a couple of years ago about Co-Producers not being allowed on stage if their show won one of the big prizes.  The edict was ignored, and now it’s been forgotten.  I love seeing all those Co-Pros on the stage (kudos for the aforementioned Sonia Friedman for giving them a shout-out) . . . as well as the full companies of actors, creative team members, and more.  Best Play and Best Musical awards aren’t about one person. They actually could be renamed Best Collaboration!  They are the result of what is so unique about the theater . . . it takes a village to create a show.  And what a wonderful village it is.

Those are my Top 5 moments from last night’s Tony Awards.  What are yours?

Fill out our survey here to let us know what you thought of the show compared to other telecasts, and we’ll reveal the results right here!

And for a list of complete winners click here.


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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.