A Strange Loop, an irreverent, sexually frank work about Blackness and queerness took home the best new musical crown at the Tony Awards on Sunday, as voters celebrated Broadway’s most racially diverse season by choosing an envelope-pushing Black voice, the AP reports. Michael R. Jackson’s 2020 Pulitzer Prize drama winner is a theater meta-journey—a tuneful show about a Black gay man writing a show about a Black gay man. Jackson also won for best book, but many of the night's other Tonys were spread over several productions. The victory of a smaller, more offbeat musical against more commercial offerings continues a recent trend, as when the intimate musical The Band’s Visit beat the big brand-musicals Frozen, Mean Girls, and SpongeBob SquarePants in 2018 or when Hadestown bested Tootsie, Beetlejuice, and Ain’t Too Proud a year later.
A Strange Loop beat MJ, a bio musical of the King of Pop’s biggest hits, for the top prize, although the other Jackson musical nabbed four Tony Awards including for best choreography. Myles Frost moonwalked away with the award for best lead actor in a musical for playing Michael Jackson, becoming the youngest solo winner in that category. “Mom, I made it!” he said. Joaquina Kalukango won the Tony for best leading actress in a musical for her work in Paradise Square, a show about Irish immigrants and Black Americans jostling to survive in New York City around the time of the Civil War. Earlier in the night, she blew the house down with a stunning performance of the musical's “Let It Burn.” See the complete list of winners here.
A gender-swapped revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company rode the fondness Broadway has for the late iconic composer by earning five statuettes, including best musical revival. Meanwhile, a starry revival of the classic show The Music Man with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster walked away empty-handed despite six nominations and being a box office smash, regularly pulling in more than $3 million a week. The season was marked by the embrace of seven Black playwrights, from contemporary writers like Dominique Morisseau, Keenan Scott II and Antoinette Nwandu, to underappreciated historical playwrights like Alice Childress and Ntozake Shange. Tonys host Ariana DeBose said Broadway was more representative, noting that The Great White Way was now a nickname “as opposed to a how-to guide.”
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