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Tonys Latest ‘A Strange Loop’ Wins for Best New Musical
By Associated Press
Published June 23, 2022

The cast of “A Strange Loop” perform at the 75th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):

11 p.m.

“A Strange Loop,” an utterly unforgettable, idiosyncratic trip into one man’s psyche, has won the best new musical Tony Award, beating more commercial fare.

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Michael R. Jackson’s 2020 Pulitzer Prize drama winner is a theater meta-journey — a tuneful show about a Black gay man writing a show about a Black gay man. That show is also called “A Strange Loop.”

At its center is Usher, an unhappy playwright slumming as an usher at “The Lion King.” He is haunted by a Greek chorus of voices — his thoughts as well as homophobic family members — who pummel, undercut and berate him.

Jackson, who in real life was an usher at “The Lion King,” is also the songwriter, and he wrote the 18 songs within the Broadway tradition, a cocktail of rock and R&B, melded harmonies, ballads and belting.

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“A Strange Loop” beat out “Girl From the North Country,” “MJ,” “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Paradise Square” and “Six: The Musical.”

Kalukango won for her work in “Paradise Square,” a musical about Irish immigrants and Black Americans jostling to survive in New York City around the time of the Civil War.

Kalukango’s credits include Lifetime’s “The Mahalia Jackson Story,” starring her former “The Color Purple” castmate Danielle Brooks, and Amazon’s “One Night… in Miami” as Betty Shabazz.

She said her name means “established by God” and she gave thanks to God and her parents during her acceptance speech.

She was also in the ensemble of “Holler If Ya Hear Me” on Broadway and appeared in Ava DuVernay’s Exonerated Five miniseries “When They See Us.” She was Tony-nominated for Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking “Slave Play.”

For the Tony, she beat out Sharon D Clarke in “Caroline, or Change,” Carmen Cusack from “Flying Over Sunset,” Sutton Foster in “The Music Man” and Mare Winningham from “Girl From the North Country.”

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10:45 p.m.

Myles Frost has moonwalked away with the award for best lead actor in a musical for playing Michael Jackson and becomes the youngest solo winner in that category.

“MJ” represents the 22-year-old Frost’s Broadway debut as he plays Jackson with a high, whispery voice, a Lady Diana-like coquettishness and a fierce embrace of Jackson’s iconic dancing and singing style, right down to the rhythmic breathing and swiveling head.

Frost thanked his parents and sang during his acceptance speech.

Frost was raised by his mother in Fort Washington, Maryland. After high school, he put theater aside to pursue a career in music. He attended Belmont University in Nashville for two years to major in audio engineering. He transferred to Bowie State University in Maryland for his final two years.

The bio musical is stuffed with the King of Pop’s biggest hits, including “ABC,” “Black or White,” “Blame it on the Boogie,” “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “I’ll Be There.”

Frost beat Billy Crystal in “Mr. Saturday Night,” Hugh Jackman from “The Music Man,” Rob McClure in “Mrs. Doubtfire” and Jaquel Spivey in “A Strange Loop.” Frost unseated Ben Platt as the youngest performer to win best leading man in a musical on his own for “Dear Evan Hansen.” (Three young men won for playing Billy Elliot in 2009).

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10:31 p.m.

Deirdre O’Connell has won the Tony Award for best actress in a play for her work in “Dana H.”

“Dana H.,” which has been described as “harrowing fugue state of a play,” is about a woman kidnapped by a former convict and member of a white supremacist brotherhood and held hostage for five months. It is written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Les Waters.

O’Connell never speaks in the play. Instead, she sits on a set that resembles a Florida motel room and lip-syncs to an edited recording of the survivor, Dana Higginbotham. In her acceptance speech, O’Connell said she wanted her award to be a “token” to those wondering if they should try to create something fort he theater.

O’Connell’s other Broadway credits include “Magic/Bird” and “The Front Page.” For the Tony, O’Connell beat Gabby Beans, LaChanze, Ruth Negga and Mary-Louise Parker.

Categories: Entertainment | Theater
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