Stars of Broadway stepped out last night (June 9) for the 73rd annual Tony Awards, where more than 20 shows were nominated for all things stage-worthy, from best play to best choreography. Throughout the evening, artists of color represented a diverse group of trophy winners who also encompassed a variety of theater roles, from dance to music production.
The night’s big winner, “Hadestown,” took home eight awards, including a long-awaited honor for André De Shields for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. This was the Broadway legend’s first Tony, though he’s been on the stage performing for 50 years. “The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing,” De Shields said during his speech.
Watch the Broadway vet discuss his lengthy career on CBS This Morning:
Michael McElroy, the founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices, which he launched 25 years ago to inspire the community during the height of the AIDS crisis, was awarded the Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. “We choose to be diverse. We not only blend our voices, but our many experiences,” McElory said. “We as Broadway performers live the dream of our childhood because someone saw something special in us,” and because arts programs were once everywhere. “Today, that is not always the case,” McElroy continued. “The need is great and we believe every child deserves the chance to express themselves and experiences, through exposure to art.”
Watch McElroy’s full speech below:
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” didn’t win Best Musical, but its choreographer Sergio Trujillo did. Excited about his win after decades in the business, Trujillo, who received the award right before the cast performed a set on stage, thanked his family for allowing him to grow and learn artistically. “To my Columbia family who had taught me to love music and dance since I was a little boy,” he said.
Watch Trujillo’s acceptance speech:
Veteran music composer Harold Wheeler, who received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, said he was going to thank every cast member for every show he’s been, but then realized he’s done 30 Broadway shows. Wheeler, who started his career at age 25, as the musical director for “Promises, Promises,” is also the musical director for this year’s nominated “Ain’t Too Proud.” He acknowledges that without the women in his life, from his mother to his wife to daughters, he may not have excelled. “My mother wouldn’t let me play sports because she was sure I would break a hand and it would end a career,” Wheeler said. Mom apparently knew what she was talking about.
Watch Wheeler’s full acceptance speech below:
Jason Michael Webb, the man behind the music for “Choir Boy,” was awarded a Special Tony Award for creating the musical’s vocal arrangements. During a highly entertaining speech where he spoke about all things arts-driven, from being inspired by his peers to being thankful to his parents for supporting his theatrical desires, he said that to “create music that helps us love each other more, love ourselves more, learn about each other and to hold each other close, I think is a really high calling.”
Watch Webb’s full speech below: