In the past, US theater awards have often been criticized for a lack of diversity. Now something seems to have happened at the Tony Awards.
A newcomer prevails against two Hollywood greats at the most important musical and theater prize in the USA.
Myles Frost, 22, has won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of pop superstar Michael Jackson in «MJ». Also nominated on Sunday were Hugh Jackman with the 1950s classic “The Music Man” and Billy Crystal with the artist biography “Mr. Saturday Night». Overall, “MJ” received four awards.
Three black artists were awarded
But “A Strange Loop” was voted the best new musical of the year on New York’s Broadway. It tells the story of a gay black usher who dreams of his own musical. Author Michael R. Jackson, unrelated to the singer, also won best book for “A Strange Loop.”
Best Female Musical Lead Actress was Joaquina Kalukango in “Paradise Square” about Irish and black people in New York during the US Civil War. With Frost, Jackson and Kalukango, the Tony judges honored three black artists this year. In the past, there had often been criticism of the award for a lack of diversity.
The best new play was the financial crisis work “The Lehman Trilogy” about the collapse of the Lehman Bank. Director Sam Mendes was also recognized for his work. He has already celebrated success in Hollywood and received the Oscar for “American Beauty” in 2000. Simon Russell Beale from “The Lehman Trilogy” was named best actor. Best Actress was Deirdre O’Connell in «Dana H.»
The best musical rival was “Company”, the last production by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim – the composer and lyricist, who died in November, is considered by many to be the greatest musical author in history. “Company” also won Best Director and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Patti LuPone is considered one of the most famous Broadway actresses and has won a Tony Award for the third time. In all, the play received five prizes.
The drama Take Me Out, about homosexuals in baseball, won Best Play Again. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, known from the TV series Modern Family, won Best Supporting Actor in a Play. Best Supporting Actress in Theater was Phylicia Rashad in «Skeleton Crew». She was once known to audiences worldwide as Mother Clair Huxtable on The Bill Cosby Show.
The Tony Awards are considered the most important award for musicals and plays in the United States, but only consider productions that were newly performed in one of the 41 Broadway houses in New York’s theater district in the past year.