The Oscar-winner and former Tony-nominee takes the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City to perform a special song, directed at all the nominees, cast and crews who make Broadway come to life each ear.
AceShowbiz –Ariana DeBose has proved why she’s the perfect host for this year’s Tony Awards. The Anita depicter in “West Side Story” kicked off the 75th annual ceremony with a musical monologue.
The 31-year-old actress opened Sunday’s (June 12) ceremony at New York’s Radio City Music Hall with a special song for all those involved in working in theater, before segueing into a medley of songs from some of the biggest Broadway shows ever, including “Bye Bye Birdie”, “Chicago” and “Cabaret”.
Ariana sang, “And so tonight, for you I want to start by singing…To every team, every cast, in present future and past, tonight at last, this is a round of applause. For the last 75 years, You kept it alive here, cheers! High five. ‘Cause you know the show, would never go on if we didn’t all come together as one.”
A video montage of winners from Tonys past also flashed across the screen, and Ariana received a standing ovation for her musical opening. She then shone a spotlight on how changes in Broadway reflect the beginning of an end to the “great white way,” making the theater world “more reflective of the community who adores it.”
She said, “It has shown us stories that have broadened our world and opened our hearts and minds. While we have not solved all of our problems, I feel like the phrase ‘great white way’ is becoming more of a nickname than a ‘how to’ guide. And here’s why. This season featured new shows written by seven black playwrights. Yeah! It brought us a gender-flipped production of Company.”
“And tonight, Lynn Nottage is the only playwright ever to be nominated for both best play and best book of a musical in the same season. Yes. L. Morgan Lee is the first openly transgender performer to be nominated for a Tony, and she won’t be the last,” Ariana continued. “Scenic designer Adam Rigg is the first out-gender nominee. Composer Toby Marlow is the first non-binary winner. Wow. And last but certainly not least, both Lena Horne and James Earl Jones are having theaters renamed for them. So, yes, major steps toward inclusion!”
During the ceremony, Jennifer Hudson reached EGOT status after “A Strange Loop” scooped Best Musical, adding the trophy to the Best Supporting Actress Oscar she received for 2007’s “Dreamgirls“, her pair of Grammys, one for her self-titled album in 2018 and a second for “The Color Purple“, which was named Best Musical Theater Album in 2017, and her Daytime Emmy, which she received last year for “Baby Yaga”, in which she voices Forest and also co-produced.
“Modern Family” actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson won his first ever Tony Award, taking home Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for the revival of “Take Me Out”. He said in his acceptance speech, “25 years ago, I worked at the Theatre Circle gift shop on 44th Street, which happens to be three doors down from the Hayes Theater, where ‘Take Me Out’ is playing.”
“And I would sit in there and I would be folding my Phantom of the Opera T-shirts and watching actors walk by the windows on the way to their half-hour call and I thought, ‘Oh God, I hope that’s me someday,’ ” he went on saying. “So to stand in front of this community I admire and love so much just means so much to me. I cannot believe I get to do this for a living.”
Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Leading Role in a Play went to Simon Russell Beale for “The Lehman Trilogy”, which also won Best Play, and Deirdre O’Connell for “Dana H” respectively, while Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play went to Phylicia Rashad for “Skeleton Crew”.
On the musical side, Leading Actor went to “MJ” star Myles Frost and Leading Actress was won by Joaquina Kalukango for “Paradise Square”. The Featured Actor and Actress prizes were won by “Company” stars Matt Doyle and Patti LuPone.
See full list of 75th Tony Awards winners here.
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