Accessibility links

Breaking News

'Stereophonic' wins Tony for best play; women win director, score honors

Adam Greenfield, left, and David Adjmi, center, and members of the company of "Stereophonic" accept the award for best play during the 77th Tony Awards on Sunday, June 16, 2024, in New York.
Adam Greenfield, left, and David Adjmi, center, and members of the company of "Stereophonic" accept the award for best play during the 77th Tony Awards on Sunday, June 16, 2024, in New York.

"Stereophonic," the play about a Fleetwood Mac-like band recording an album over a turbulent and life-changing year, got a lighters-in-the-air cheer at the Tony Awards on Sunday, winning best new play while theater history was made for women as Broadway directors and score writers.

"Stereophonic," the most-nominated play in Tony Awards history, is a hyper-naturalistic meditation on the thrill and danger of collaborating on art — the compromises, the egos and the joys. 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 that 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." He dedicated it to all the artists out there.

Danya Taymor — whose aunt is Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a musical — became the 11th woman to win the award. She helmed "The Outsiders," a gritty musical adaptation of the classic American young adult novel.

"Thank you to the great women who have lifted me up," she said, naming producer Angelina Jolie among those on her list.

Then Shaina Taub, only the second woman in Broadway history to write, compose and star in a Broadway musical, won for best score, following such writers as Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori. Taub, the force behind "Suffs," won for best book earlier in the night.

Her musical is about the heroic final years of the fight to allow women to vote, leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

"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 also said the win was for all the loud girls out there: "Go for it," she urged.

Earlier, Alicia Keys electrified the show when she teamed up with superstar Jay-Z on their hit "Empire State of Mind." Keys appeared at the piano on the stage of the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center as the cast of her semi-autobiographical musical, "Hell's Kitchen," was presenting a medley of songs. She began singing her and Jay-Z's 2009 smash before leaving the stage to join the rapper on some interior steps to wild applause.

Host Ariana DeBose kicked off the telecast with an original, acrobatic number, and Jeremy Strong took home the first big award of the night as Broadway's biggest party opened its arms to hip-hop and rock fans.

Strong, 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 theater award for best lead actor in a play will sit next to his Emmy, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe.

The play is about a public-minded doctor in a small town who discovers the water supply for the public spa is contaminated, but his efforts to clean up the mess pit his ethics against political cowards.

"This play is a cry from the heart," he said.

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 scheme to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church from a plantation owner.

"Thank you to my ancestors," she said, adding thanks to her mom and dad, brother, partner, cast, her co-star Leslie Odom Jr. and her director, Kenny Leon. She saved her last thanks to playwright Ossie Davis and his star Ruby Dee, who originated the role.

"Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe cemented his stage career pivot by winning a featured actor in a musical Tony, 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, thanking his cast and director. "I will never have it as good again." He also thanked his parents for playing Sondheim in the car growing up.

Kecia Lewis, who plays a formidable piano teacher in "Hell's Kitchen," took home her first Tony. The 40-year veteran made her Broadway debut at 18 in the original company of "Dreamgirls" and endured amazing moments and heartbreak.

"This moment is the one I dreamed of for those 40 years," she told the crowd. "Don't give up!"

"Appropriate," Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' play — centered on a family reunion in Arkansas where everyone has competing motivations and grievances — was named best play revival. Jacobs-Jenkins in his remarks thanked Davis, saying there would be no "Appropriate" without "Purlie Victorious."

Three-time Tony-honored Chita Rivera got a tribute by Tony winners 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 mimicked her hit numbers. DeBose, who won an Oscar in Rivera's old "West Side Story" role of Anita, also joined in.