A Strange Loop won Best Broadway Musical at the Tony Awards

Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop,” a groundbreaking Broadway show about a queer black man’s struggles with identity and creativity, was named Best Musical at Sunday night’s Tony Awards.

The show, already honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year he was also awarded for the best book of a musical. In accepting the book award, Jackson, himself a gay black man, said that as an artist he often feels unseen and unheard and began working on the show more than a decade ago in order to move forward.

“I just wanted to build myself a little life raft,” he said.

“The Lehman Trilogy,” a drama that chronicled the rise and fall of financial firm Lehman Bros., won Best Play. Sam Mendes, the film and theater veteran who directed the production, won the Tony for Best Director of a Play.

Sunday’s event, held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and broadcast live on CBS, marked the 75th annual Tony Awards ceremonyth annual edition. The presentation, hosted by Broadway veteran and recent Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose, referenced Broadway’s past in a number of ways and also included a tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim, creator of many popular Broadway musicals.

Sondheim ventured into the night in another sway. A gender-swapped version of his 1970 show Company won Best Revival of a Musical. Marianne Elliott, the director of the production, won the Tony for Best Director of a Musical.

A production of Take Me Out, a two-decade-old baseball drama that also explores gay issues, won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

The past season has challenged Broadway in many ways, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many members of the production cast contracting the virus, the industry relied heavily on understudy, a fact that award contributors pointed out all night. Also recognized during the Tony presentation: the COVID-19 safety monitors who ensured proper protocols were being followed in the theatres.

Some shows that premiered that season actually ran in previews in the 2019-20 season, but were then curtailed by the COVID shutdown on Broadway. Case in point: The Lehman Trilogy. In accepting the Best Play award, Ben Power, who adapted Stefano Massini’s original screenplay Lehman, noted that there were more than 500 days between the show’s fourth and fifth performances.

But in many ways, the past Broadway season has been marked by the industry’s push to be more inclusive. Broadway, in particular, put a spotlight on playwrights of color and presented several works by such authors.

DeBose referenced the effort in her opening statement. “I feel like ‘Great White Way’ is becoming more of a nickname than a guide,” she said. A Strange Loop won Best Broadway Musical at the Tony Awards

Brian Lowry

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