The Tony Awards Celebrate the Triumph of Broadway


Fordham Theatre Professor Clint Ramos weighs in on the return of the Tony Awards. (courtesy of Instagram)

On Sept. 26, 2021, the Winter Garden Theatre hosted the 74th Tony Awards in New York City. This was the first Tony Award ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The theme of the ceremony was “Broadway is back!” Although shows had already started to return slowly in the preceding weeks, large productions like “The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” opened this September. 

Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning singer and actor Audra McDonald hosted the live presentation. Following the award ceremony, Tony and Grammy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated singer and actor Leslie Odom Jr. hosted “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!”, a live concert celebrating the return of Broadway. The awards ceremony was exclusively streamed on Paramount+, but the live concert was available for viewing on CBS as well. The Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical Tony Awards were presented during the live concert. This multi-platform presentation of the ceremony was criticized as an odd layout and inaccessible, a critique Broadway often receives.

Among the nominees this year was Fordham Theatre Professor Clint Ramos. Professor Ramos was nominated for Best Scenic Design in a Play for “Slave Play” and Best Costume Design in a Play for “The Rose Tattoo.” “Slave Play” is a provocative play discussing interracial relationships and power dynamics. “Slave Play” was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, making it the most nominated play of the Tony Awards. “The Rose Tattoo,” originally written by Tennessee Williams, follows a widow who finds love again. 

Professor Ramos won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design in a Play in 2016 for “Eclipsed.” He was the first Asian-American and person of color to win a Tony Award for Best Costume Design in a Play. Professor Ramos’ exceptional design can be seen in his Tony red carpet look. He is most recently the costume designer for the Aretha Franklin biopic “RESPECT.”

“Jagged Little Pill” received the most nominations for a musical (15), but “Moulin Rouge!” won the most awards (10). The most spectacular performances were from these two musicals during the “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” 

Aaron Tveit was the sole nominee and winner of the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical as Christian in “Moulin Rouge!” However, his win was not guaranteed. Tveit had to win at least sixty percent of the votes to win, and Tony voters could choose not to vote for anyone.

Though certain aspects of the ceremony caused confusion, it was clear how overjoyed Broadway fanatics were to celebrate the return of Broadway. Actors, set designers, choreographers and musicians could finally set their achievements as the lights came back on.