The 74th annual Tony Awards took place on Sunday, with a fully vaxxed, in-person ceremony airing live across CBS and Paramount+.
Host and multi-Tony award winner Audra McDonald kicked off the night’s festivities by welcoming the crowd, poking fun at the fact that she could only see part of everyone’s faces due to everyone donning face masks in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
“It’s wonderful to see half of your beautiful faces,” she quipped before adding,“Like every show on Broadway, our audience is vaxxed and masked. Masks have made reopening of theaters a reality, after more than 560 nights in the dark. The lights are on and we’re back.”
One of the first wins of the night went to comedian and actor David Alan Grier, who received the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for A Soldier’s Play. In part of his acceptance speech, Grier thanked the late Douglas Turner Ward for his contributions to the art saying:
“I’ve been acting for over 40 years, I’m overwhelmed. I wanna thank Douglas Turner Ward from the Negro Ensemble Company. You know, Doug came to see our play and he was very ill. He could barely speak and it was during a matinee show and I was going for my dinner break. I figured I’d stay and try to listen to him answer one question. And this man’s passion, his commitment, every word he uttered, was teaching and science of theater. I’m so proud.”
Later in the night, A Soldier’s Play was also recognized with the award for Best Revival of a Play. In a surprising twist, despite being nominated in 12 categories, Jeremy O.Harris’ Slave Play walked away with no awards.
Congratulations are also in order to Adrienne Warren. The actress and Broadway star took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her role as Tina Turner in Tina—The Tina Turner Musical.
Speaking of music, Jennifer Holliday also made an appearance, returning to the stage for a powerful rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Holliday previously won a Tony in 1982 for her role as Effie White in Dreamgirls, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, following the awards ceremony, Tony award-winner and One Night in Miami star Leslie Odom Jr. kicked off The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!, a two-hour special in celebration of the return to live theater. John Legend also graced the stage with his presence where he performed “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” from The Temptations musical Ain’t Too Proud.
To view the full list of winners, head on over to tonyawards.com.