The Best After-Party Moments on Tony Awards Night—See All the Photos

It’s official! The Tony Awards returned to Radio City Music Hall. For decades, the Great Stage was where the Great White Way gathered on Broadway’s biggest night until three years ago when the theater district’s lights went dim due to the pandemic before slowly opening back up. At the 75th Annual Awards ceremony on Sunday, the theme of the evening was to celebrate those who made the show went on again (and again), from the understudies to the ushers.

The opening number featured Julianne Hough and Darren Criss, who did a foot-tapping jig to an original song Criss wrote called “Set the Stage.” With catchy lyrics like: “When producers from the Tony’s called us up, they said . . . we’re hoping you can open up with ‘Broadway is back,’” they danced up ladders, spun round laundry hampers, and slid down theater seats while giving the audience literal peak at the geniuses behind the red velvet curtain without missing a beat. 

The message was underscored when understudy turned Oscar winner Ariana Debose took the stage as the evening host, mere months after earning a statuette for her portrayal of Anita in Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story. Debose dazzled the crowd by performing a dizzying mash-up of the most memorable Broadway musical song and dances spanning three-quarters of a century in under five minutes flat, from A Chorus Line to Cabaret, Hairspray to Hamilton. 

Debose also reminded the audience that this season was nothing short of record-breaking, as it featured new shows written by seven black playwrights, a gender-flipped production of Company, and the first openly transgender performer to be nominated for a Tony, among other noteworthy ways Broadway is becoming “more reflective of the community that adores it.” 

Case in point: A Strange Loop, the Pulitzer-prize winning “big, Black and queer-ass American Broadway” show, not only won Best Musical, playwright Michael R. Jackson nabbed Best Book of a Musical. When the cast and crew celebrated at The Times Square EDITION, Jackson rubbed elbows with the likes of Jennifer Hudson and Billy Porter with his Tony Award still in hand. “I started off as a fledgling playwright who wanted to be a soap opera writer. And so all these years later, to be actually given an award for my playwriting essentially means that all the years of hard work paid off.” Hard work includes (yes) being an usher for The Lion King like the show’s leading man.

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