UNITED STATES NEWS

‘The Outsiders’ wins best musical and ‘Stereophonic’ best play as women make strides at Tony Awards

Jun 14, 2024, 4:12 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2024, 4:48 am

NEW YORK (AP) — “The Outsiders,” a gritty adaptation of the classic young adult novel, became the essence of a Broadway insider on Sunday, winning the Tony Award for best new musical on a night when women made strides.

The musical based on the beloved S. E. Hinton book is about rival gangs of haves and have-nots in 1960s Oklahoma. The win meant Angelina Jolie, a producer, landed her first Tony, too.

Producer Matthew Rego, in his acceptance speech, thanked Hinton, in the audience at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center: “Susie, I’m here to tell you that your story and its eternal message of love and family and staying gold has forever changed all of our lives.”

“Stereophonic,” the play about a Fleetwood Mac-like band recording an album over a turbulent and life-changing year, won best new play and had the night’s most total awards at five. It was written by David Adjmi, with songs by former Arcade Fire member Will Butler.

“Oh, no. My agent gave me a beta blocker, but it’s not working,” Adjmi said. He added the play took 11 years to manifest.

“This was a very hard journey to get up here,” he said. “We need to fund the arts in America.”

Two special guests electrified the crowd — Jay-Z and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The latter, a producer of a musical about suffragettes, presented “Suffs.”

“I have stood on a lot of stages, but this is very special,” Clinton said. “I know a little bit about how hard it is to make change.”

In the first musical presentation, Alicia Keys appeared at a piano as the cast of her semi-autobiographical musical, “Hell’s Kitchen,” presented a medley of songs. She sang her and Jay-Z’s 2009 smash “Empire State of Mind,” joining the rapper on interior steps to wild applause.

Later, newcomer Maleah Joi Moon won best leading actress for “Hell’s Kitchen,” brushing aside a challenge from veteran Kelli O’Hara. The 21-year-old, who plays a role loosely based on Keys’ life, dedicated her award to her parents.

Danya Taymor — whose aunt is Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a musical — became the sixth woman to win the same award for “The Outsiders.”

Then Shaina Taub, only the second woman in Broadway history to write, compose and star in a Broadway musical, won for best score, the ninth woman to do so. The “Suffs” creator had already won for best book earlier in the night.

“If you are inspired by the story of ‘Suffs,’ please make sure you and everyone you know have registered to vote and vote, vote, vote!” she said. Taub said the win was for all the loud girls out there: “Go for it.”

Jeremy Strong took home the first big award of the night. The “Succession” star landed his first Tony for his work in the revival of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 political play “An Enemy of the People.” The award for best lead actor in a play will sit next to his Emmy, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe.

Kara Young, the first Black performer to be nominated for a Tony three consecutive years in a row, won this time as best featured actress in a play for “Purlie Victorious,” the story of a Black preacher’s plan to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church from a plantation owner.

“Thank you to my ancestors,” she said, giving thanks to a list that included playwright Ossie Davis and co-star Ruby Dee, who originated her role.

“Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe cemented his stage career pivot by winning featured actor in a musical, his first trophy in five Broadway shows. He won for the revival of “Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim- George Furth musical that goes backward in time.

“This is one of the best experiences of my life,” Radcliffe said. “I will never have it as good again.” He also thanked his parents for playing Sondheim in the car growing up.

“Merrily” was also named best musical revival and earned Jonathan Groff his first Tony, for leading actor in a musical. Groff — previously nominated for “Spring Awakening” and “Hamilton” — thanked co-stars Lindsay Mendez and Radcliffe, both emotional in the audience.

Groff, who said he used to watch the Tonys in Pennsylvania as a kid, also thanked his parents and brother for letting him act out scenes from “I Love Lucy” as a child.

“Thank you for always allowing my freak flag to fly without ever making me feel weird about it,” he said.

Kecia Lewis, who plays a formidable piano teacher in “Hell’s Kitchen,” took home her first Tony, too. The 40-year veteran made her Broadway debut at 18 in the original company of “Dreamgirls.”

“This moment is the one I dreamed of for those 40 years,” she said. “Don’t give up!”

“Appropriate,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ show centered on a family reunion in Arkansas, was named best play revival. Jacobs-Jenkins also thanked Davis, saying there would be no “Appropriate” without “Purlie Victorious.”

“Appropriate” star Sarah Paulson added a best leading actress in a play Tony to her awards cabinet. Paulson said she was thrilled to be able to interrogate the human condition: “This is the heart and soul of what we do and I am so honored to be amongst you.”

Three-time Tony-honored Chita Rivera got a special tribute from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth. Images of her work in “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “West Side Story” were projected while dancers performed her hit numbers. Host Ariana DeBose, who won an Oscar in Rivera’s “West Side Story” role of Anita, joined in.

DeBose, a three-time host, also co-choreographed the opening original number, “This Party’s for You.” The song cheered those who sacrifice for their art and took a gentle swipe at other entertainment types: “You’ll learn that film and TV can make you rich and make you famous. But theater will make you better.”

The performances also included an intense, creepy version of “Willkommen” from the “Cabaret” revival led by Eddie Redmayne, Pete Townshend playing guitar for “The Who’s Tommy” and a messy rumble from “The Outsiders” that included falling water, buckets of dirt, various carpets and an onstage truck.

The telecast teased upcoming shows, inviting Nicole Scherzinger — slated to star in a “Sunset Boulevard” revival — to sing the “In Memoriam” section. Nick Jonas and Adrienne Warren — announced today as stars of 2025’s “The Last Five Years” — presented.

Scherzinger sang “What I Did for Love” as the names appeared, including playwright Christopher Durang and actors Alan Arkin,Glenda Jackson,Louis Gossett Jr., and Treat Williams.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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More on the Tony Awards: https://apnews.com/hub/tony-awards

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‘The Outsiders’ wins best musical and ‘Stereophonic’ best play as women make strides at Tony Awards