MJ, A Strange Loop Win Top Honors at 75th Tony Awards

·6 min read
Myles Frost performs a number from “MJ” onstage at the 75th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Myles Frost performs a number from “MJ” onstage at the 75th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Broadway lives by the motto “The Show Must Go On.”

That sentiment has never been more true than during this season, when the theater community continued amid endless COVID-19 cancellations and cast changes. Broadway celebrated its triumphant comeback during The 75th Tony Awards. After a show-stopping opening number from host Ariana DeBose, the Oscar-winner explained how the theme of the night was diversity and inclusion, with several Black and LGBTQ+ nominees highlighting the proceedings.

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From there, things got moving quickly with a stunning performance from the cast of MJ, which features the music of Michael Jackson and was introduced by the superstar artist’s kids, Paris and Prince Jackson. Myles Frost, Tony-winner for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, embodied the King of Pop and performed one of his biggest hits, “Smooth Criminal.”

The night’s most-nominated show, A Strange Loop, took home two awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. The show is a unique, new meta-musical that follows the thoughts of Usher, a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical.

The most jaw-dropping moment of the night came from Paradise Square’s Joaquina Kalukango, whose emotional performance of “Let it Burn” was every reason to love live theater wrapped up in one song. The way she built to that crescendo and had the audience hanging on her every note was masterful. Unsurprisingly, she received one of the night’s few standing ovations. Tony audiences have seen everything, so they don’t hand out standing ovations like other award shows. You have to really earn it here.

After that show-stealer, it was no surprise when she won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

Over on the play side, despite several nominations for shows like Clyde’s, Skeleton Crew and Lackawanna Blues, the night was dominated by The Lehman Trilogy and Take Me Out. Though one bright spot came when the legendary Phylicia Rashad picked up another honor with her win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Skeleton Crew.

For theater fans who were hoping the shutdown would force the genre to change some of its outdated practices and unwritten rules, The 75th Tony Awards signaled that things could be headed in the right direction.

Best Musical

  • A Strange Loop (WINNER)

  • Girl From the North Country

  • MJ The Musical

  • Mr. Saturday Night

  • Paradise Square

  • SIX: The Musical

Best Revival of a Musical

  • Caroline, or Change

  • Company (WINNER)

  • The Music Man

Best Revival of a Play

  • American Buffalo

  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf

  • How I Learned to Drive

  • Take Me Out (WINNER)

  • Trouble in Mind

Best Book of a Musical

  • Paradise Square - Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan

  • Mr. Saturday Night - Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel

  • A Strange Loop - Michael R. Jackson (WINNER)

  • Girl From the North Country - Conor McPherson

  • MJ The Musical - Lynn Nottage

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

  • Flying Over Sunset - Music: Tom Kitt, lyrics: Michael Korie

  • Mr. Saturday Night - Music: Jason Robert Brown, lyrics: Amanda Green

  • Paradise Square - Music: Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan, lyrics: Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare

  • SIX: The Musical - Music and lyrics: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss (WINNER)

  • A Strange Loop - Music and lyrics: Michael R. Jackson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy (WINNER)

  • Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy

  • Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy

  • David Morse, How I Learned To Drive

  • Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo

  • Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues

  • David Trelfall, Hangmen

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Gabby Beans, The Skin of Our Teeth

  • LaChanze, Trouble in Mind

  • Ruth Negga, Macbeth

  • Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H. (WINNER)

  • Mary-Louise Parker, How I Learned To Drive

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night

  • Myles Frost, MJ The Musical (WINNER)

  • Hugh Jackman, The Music Man

  • Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire

  • Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Sharon D Clarke; Caroline, or Change

  • Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset

  • Sutton Foster, The Music Man

  • Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square (WINNER)

  • Mare Winningham, Girl From the North Country

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Alfie Allen, Hangmen

  • Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind

  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out (WINNER)

  • Ron Cephas Jones, Clyde’s

  • Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out

  • Jesse Williams, Take Me Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Uzo Aduba, Clyde’s

  • Rachel Dratch, POTUS

  • Kenita R. Miller, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf

  • Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew (WINNER)

  • Julie White, POTUS

  • Kara Young, Clyde’s

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Matt Doyle, Company (WINNER)

  • Sidney DuPont, Paradise Square

  • Jared Grimes, Funny Girl

  • John-Andrew Morrison, A Strange Loop

  • A.J. Shively, Paradise Square

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Jeannette Bayardelle, Girl from the North Country

  • Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night

  • Jayne Houdyshell, The Music Man

  • L Morgan Lee, A Strange Loop

  • Patti LuPone, Company (WINNER)

  • Jennifer Simard, Company

Best Direction of a Play

  • Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Skin of Our Teeth

  • Camille A. Brown, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf

  • Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy (WINNER)

  • Neil Pepe, American Buffalo

  • Les Waters, Dana H.

Best Direction of a Musical

  • Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop

  • Marianne Elliott, Company (WINNER)

  • Conor McPherson, Girl From the North Country

  • Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, SIX: The Musical

  • Christopher Wheeldon, MJ The Musical

Best Choreography

  • Camille A. Brown, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf

  • Warren Carlyle, The Music Man

  • Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, SIX: The Musical

  • Bill T. Jones, Paradise Square

  • Christopher Wheeldon, MJ The Musical (WINNER)

Best Orchestrations

  • David Cullen, Company

  • Tom Curran, SIX: The Musical

  • Simon Hale, Girl From the North Country (WINNER)

  • Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ The Musical

  • Charlie Rosen, A Strange Loop

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

  • Angela Lansbury

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

  • Robert E. Wankel

Regional Theatre Tony Award

  • Court Theatre

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

  • Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC)

  • Broadway For All

  • Feinstein’’s/54 Below

  • Emily Grishman

  • United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, IATSE