At Tony Awards, ‘Kimberly Akimbo’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Leopoldstadt’ Best Play

Kimberly Akimbois a small, heartfelt show about a teenage girl battling a life-shortening genetic disease and her ludicrously dysfunctional family, and was the coveted Sunday Night Musical of the Year. It won a prestigious Tony Award.

The award was presented at the end of an unusual Tony Awards ceremony, which was almost never held due to an ongoing writer’s strike. Only intervention by a group of playwrights who also work in film and television saved the show. They persuaded the Writers Guild of America that it was wrong to collateral damage the conflict-stricken theater industry centered around Hollywood. No picketing, no scripted jokes, ending a telecast that aired without a hitch.

“I’m live and I don’t have a script,” said returning host of the awards ceremony, Ariana DeBose, after the opening number started backstage in a blank-page binder with the word “script.” and said at the beginning of the show while dancing. Without a word she walked through the theater to the stage. She then pointed to the absence of the teleprompter and voiced her support for the strikers’ cause, saying, “To those who thought last year was a little shaky, I say, ‘Everyone, buckle up. !”

At one point, she saw scrawled letters on her forearm and said, “I don’t know what this note means. Please welcome the next person on stage.”

The basic elements of the awards ceremony were mostly left intact, including acceptance speeches by the winners and songs by the Broadway musical cast. But the introductions to shows and performances were mostly fashionably shot videos rather than celebrities’ descriptions. The presenters were extremely reserved in their comments, leaving plenty of time for the unusually well-shot production number.

Two groundbreaking awards were given at the awards ceremony. J. Harrison Gee and Alex Newell were the first non-binary performers to win a Tony Award for Best Performance, with Gee winning as a musician in Some Like It Hot and Newell as Whiskey. . Distiller from the musical comedy “Shacked”. “For all transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming humans who have been told you can’t be and can’t be seen, this is for you,” Gee said. Newell expressed similar sentiments, stating, “Broadway, thank you for meeting me.”

Susan-Lori Parks’ 2001 masterpiece, last fall’s Top Dog/Underdog, about two black brothers with a heavy emphasis on history and circumstance, won a Tony Award for best revival. The play won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002, but did not win a Tony Award. At this year’s Tony Awards, Parks described actors Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Corey Hawkins as “living big in a world that no one likes us wanting to live in.” He praised it, adding that “theater is a great therapy.”

It also had star power. Jodie Comer, best known for playing her assassin on her TV series Killing Eve, gave her brutal and spectacular performance in her debut as a defense attorney for a victim of sexual assault. She won the Best Actress Award for the play. In “Prima Facier”. And Sean Hayes, best known for “Will and Grace,” won for playing melancholy speaker and pianist Oscar Levant in “Goodnight, Oscar.”

On this night, Tom Stoppard’s painful drama “Leopoldstadt,” which depicts a Jewish family in Vienna until the first half of the 20th century, won the Best Picture Award, raising concerns about anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world. It was a reminder that And a new version of the 1998 show “Parade,” based on the lynching of a Jewish businessman in early 20th century Georgia, won Best Musical Revival.

Winning three Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas and winning a Tony Award, Leopoldstadt won Sunday night’s Patrick Marber Award for Director and the Brandon Ulanowitz Award for Best Actor in a Play. It has also won several other awards. In his speech, he spoke of the personal nature of the production, which has a predominantly Jewish cast, saying, “Many of my ancestors who were unable to leave Poland are grateful to you.”

The triumph of “Parade” cemented a spectacular comeback for the show, which was not successful when it premiered on Broadway in 1998, but this time it’s becoming a hit thanks to strong word of mouth and popularity. Its leader, Ben Platt. The success of “Parade” is also an important milestone for musical composer Jason Robert Brown. Although Brown is widely admired in the theater world, his Broadway productions have struggled commercially. Brown wrote the music and lyrics for “Parade” and the book is by Alfred Woolley. Both won Tony Awards in 1999 for their work on the show.

“We must stand together,” said Michael Arden, who won the Tony Award for Best Director for his revival film “Parade,” in his acceptance speech, adding that “otherwise we are doomed to repeat the horrors of history.” . Arden also recalls being repeatedly called a homophobic slur, or the “F word,” when he was a child, and received a roar of cheers when he took back his slur. “Keep speaking up,” he said.

However, that night’s Kimberly Akimbo, the smallest of the five nominees for Best Music and the lowest-grossing, was also virtually the best-reviewed. rice field. unanimous praise from critics. (In a nod to the show’s anagram-loving subplots, New York Times critic Jesse Greene presciently suggested last fall that one of his own themes was “sublime cast = best musical.”) bottom.)

Set in Bergen County, New Jersey in 1999, 63-year-old Victoria Clarke plays Kimberly, a 15-year-old, almost 16-year-old girl with a rare disease that causes premature aging. Kimberly’s home life is in turmoil, her father a heavy drinker, her mother a hypochondriac, her aunt a hilarious cheater, and her medical condition complicates her school life, but she finds joy where she can. I am learning Clark won a Tony Award for her performance as Kimberly, and Bonnie Milligan won a Tony Award for her performance as her aunt.

Directed by Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo will begin with an Off-Broadway production by the non-profit Atlantic Theater Company in the fall of 2021, opening at the Booth Theater in November. The play was written by playwright David Lindsay Abea and composer Janine Tesori, based on Lindsay Abea’s 2003 play. Lindsey Abeah and Tesori won Tony Awards for their work on Sunday night.

The musical, which has just nine characters, was capitalized for up to $7 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. That’s a low-budget Broadway musical these days, when more and more shows cost $20 million or more to run. The lead producer is David Stone, one of Broadway’s most successful lead producers on “Wicked.” It was the first time he won a Tony Award for Best Musical and was also the lead producer of the Tony Award-winning “Top Dog” revival.

The Best Musical Award is considered the most financially beneficial to Tony and generally leads to increased ticket sales. ‘Kimberly Akimbo’ won ahead of her other four nominated shows, ‘& Juliet’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Shacked’ and ‘Some Like It Hot’. None of the five musicals nominated are blockbusters, and four, including “Kimberly Akimbo,” are in the red most weeks.

The 2022-23 season, which ended last month, has been a tough time for the new musical. Broadway audiences were still about 17 percent below pre-pandemic levels, with ticket-buying audiences drawn to established titles (such as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Phantom of the Opera”). sold well in the final month of the film’s 35-year run) and big stars (especially Hugh Jackman in The Music Man, Sara Bareilles in Into the Woods, Funny Girl). Lea Michelle in “Funny Girl”, and Josh Groban in “Sweeney Todd”). That’s why this year’s Tony Awards will be more important than ever, with industry leaders hoping to boost box office revenue by spotlighting plays on national television.

The ceremony included musical performances by all nine of the nominated new musicals and musical revivals, as well as barn-burning Michelle’s performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and Neil Caster’s “Sweet Musical”. Caroline” was also performed. Diamond sang “The Phantom of the Opera” by Joaquina in her musical “A Beautiful Noise”, and as part of a tribute segment to mark the end of the show in April.

Hosted by the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, “Tony’s”, named after Antoinette Perry, honored two lovable 90-somethings with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Actor Joel Gray, 91, is still best known for hosting on both Broadway and Broadway. Composer John Kander (96), who wrote the music for the movie version of “Cabaret”, “Cabaret”, “Chicago” and “New York, New York”. “I appreciate the music,” said Kander, who was introduced by Lin-Manuel Miranda as “the kindest person in show business.” Gray was introduced by his daughter, actress Jennifer Gray. He sang some words from the opening number of “Cabaret”.

“Oh my God, I love applause,” he said, and there was applause.

Sarah Barr, Nancy Coleman and Matt Stevens Contributed to the report.

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