The Best and Worst Moments of the Tony Awards

There have been numerous nice numbers throughout the first half of the Tonys, and even a couple of within the second half. However nobody else did what Holliday did when she planted herself heart stage and let rip with “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” It’s not simply that she sings her signature track like nobody ever sang something. It’s that the singing is secondary, merely the outward expression of one thing a lot bigger inside her. Musical theater at its greatest delivers the human soul, in pleasure or agony or confidence or disgrace, to an viewers prepared to obtain it; it’s a communion. For a couple of minutes, 40 years after she first bowled us over, she did it once more, in pleasure, agony, confidence and disgrace. JESSE GREEN

As pink carpets go, the one on the Tony Awards is usually outlined by what it doesn’t have: an hour of commentary from E!, excessive vogue affiliations and monthslong angst about who will put on which designer. However what it lacks in commercialization, it makes up for in coronary heart, particularly this 12 months, with Broadway having simply reopened after the devastation of the pandemic shutdowns. As an alternative of motion heroes in penguin fits, you get David Byrne in a royal blue get-up, no tie and white brogues. And wherever the golden-boy Jeremy O. Harris goes, the carpets sparkle a little bit brighter. STELLA BUGBEE

Sonya Tayeh’s placing goth-goddess have a look at Sunday evening’s Tonys — a shiny black tux with a cummerbund and no shirt; modern hip-length black hair on one half of her head, the opposite half shaved; massive, shimmering hoops and a lip piercing — would have been sufficient to land her on any checklist of bests. However it was her transferring acceptance speech for greatest choreography, for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” that shook me. Delivered so calmly and thoughtfully, it shifted the power of the room. Tayeh, 44, stated: “As a brown, queer, Arab American woman, I wasn’t always welcomed. It takes graceful hands to lead people like me to the door.” Her mom is Lebanese; her Palestinian father, who was not a part of her upbringing, died when she was younger. “It’s been 10 years since a woman has won this award,” she continued. “Though I’m honored to be part of this legacy, this legacy is too small.” MAYA SALAM

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In an trade that’s continually engaged on — and scrutinized for — its stage of accessibility, why are they making it more durable for audiences to observe the overwhelming majority of awards? All however three honors got solely on Paramount+, to not point out among the greatest performances of the night. I’ve web entry and the bare-minimum streaming savvy to enroll (and to cancel my free trial on the finish of the week), however loads of theater followers don’t. Paramount+ additionally lacks the flexibility to rewind and pause its stream — how else am I supposed to return to the start of Jennifer Holliday’s gorgeous efficiency and watch it advert nauseam? NANCY COLEMAN

Lois Smith has completed one thing nobody else who has spent 9 a long time on this planet has achieved: Gained a Tony Award for appearing. Smith, who gained greatest featured actress in a play for her function in “The Inheritance,” gave a candy shout-out to “Howards End,” the E.M. Forster e-book on which the play is predicated, naming it her favourite novel. After which she quoted the novel’s well-known two-word message, an apt one for stay theater’s return: “Only connect.” SARAH BAHR

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I noticed “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” — roughly a thousand years in the past, if my math is correct — and felt a little bit of a sensory overload by the tip. Tony viewers received a glimpse of it within the solid’s efficiency: Multiply these vibrant skirts, excessive kicks and brisk pop numbers by a few acts and an intermission, and also you’ve received one of the crucial aggressively energetic musicals in latest Broadway historical past. I loved it then, however Sunday’s effort — prerecorded on the Al Hirschfeld Theater, the present’s house base — felt just like the musical had lastly discovered the right setting. Watching any theatrical work from behind a display screen can dim its depth, and maybe the preliminary vibe might use a little bit of dimming. However what higher time is there to revel within the adrenaline rush, and the vivacity, of going to the theater? Every thing about “Moulin Rouge!” — or, not less than, the upbeat components carried out on Sunday evening — is brimming with celebration. It’s precisely the type of splashy abundance we’ve so missed this previous 12 months and a half. NANCY COLEMAN

The profitable first half of the double broadcast fooled me into considering the present’s writers and producers had ultimately seen the error of their previous methods. There have been no cute introductions, no faux patter, no pyrotechnical chyron curlicues, simply sincerity, heat and professionalism, modeled by Audra McDonald because the host. Then the second half arrived, reneging on the promise of the primary. By the point its host, Leslie Odom, Jr., engaged Josh Groban in a hoary comedy bit — Odom lured the supposedly shocked Groban to the stage to carry out an “impromptu” tribute to theater educators — you knew that the present had turned its again on the intelligence of theater it was meant to honor. There was nowhere to go however down. JESSE GREEN

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The roof of the Winter Backyard Theater was simply barely nonetheless connected after Jennifer Holliday’s searing rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” however Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel’s “Wicked” reunion as soon as once more threatened to blow it off. The actresses, who originated the roles of Glinda and Elphaba respectively, sang “For Good,” a duet that — with Chenoweth in a poofy pink gown and Menzel in a somber black quantity — mirrored the extremes of Broadway’s pandemic shutdown and buoyant, four-hour return. And after they sang the road “I have been changed for good,” it felt like they have been talking for a whole trade. SARAH BAHR

“Freestyle Love Supreme” has been round for practically 20 years, its Broadway run in late 2019 was robust sufficient to earn it a particular Tony Award, and one of many musical improv troupe’s founders is a Broadway darling himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda. However as an alternative of being a spotlight of the evening, the on-the-fly Tonys recap fell sufferer to its setting. “Freestyle Love Supreme” normally thrives off viewers contributions. However the broadcast clock was ticking, and as an alternative of interacting with the myriad stars in entrance of them — who wouldn’t need Andrew Lloyd Webber to explain his day for the sake of comedy? — these performers blandly reenacted the moments we’d simply sat via, and with little extemporization. There was definitely loads of expertise onstage: theater-fan family names like Miranda, Chris Jackson and James Monroe Iglehart; and spectacular rising members like Aneesa Folds and Kaila Mullady. That simply made the tip of the night all of the extra disappointing. NANCY COLEMAN