Andrew Burnap and Aaron Tveit Win Tonys for Best Actor

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Sept. 26, 2021, 9:28 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:28 p.m. ET

Now we have a very different style and aesthetic going with John Legend and the stars of “Ain’t Too Proud.” It actually feels very sedate and, honestly, a bit dull, especially after that big “Moulin Rouge” number.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

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Credit…Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

The actress and comedian Julie Halston received an award for her charitable work around pulmonary fibrosis, the lung disease.

Halston — who has appeared in several Broadway shows, including “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Tootsie” — is a board member of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and helped to create a charity event featuring Broadway performers that the nonprofit says has raised more than $2 million since 2010. Halston’s husband, the radio newscaster Ralph Howard, died from complications related to the disease in 2018.

The Isabelle Stevenson Award is given to a member of the theater community who has made a significant contribution to a humanitarian, social service or charitable organization.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

John Legend is one of the producers of “Ain’t Too Proud,” and it’s lovely to see him perform from it, but … that show opened in 2019.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

More fuschia!

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

Was there a memo that went out about fuschia being the color of the night?

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:23 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:23 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

As Karen Olivo has left the show, Natalie Mendoza is playing Satine.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

I am in love with “Lady Marmalade.” Remember the version featuring Pink, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim and Mya? It plays on my Spotify constantly.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

It’s the only French I know!

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

On mine too, Maya, right after the Trout Quintet.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:21 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:21 p.m. ET

The “Moulin Rouge” set really is a spectacular spectacular.

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:20 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:20 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

The performance segments from the three nominated muiscals were taped at their home theaters, which ought to work better.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:20 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:20 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

OK where’s my Tylenol. It’s fever dream time thanks to “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

A really wonderful thing about this theater is that, unlike on the subway, everyone’s noses are covered, too.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:15 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:15 p.m. ET

Just noticed no one on stage with David Byrne has any shoes on. …

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

That seems to be their modus operandi. They don’t wear socks in the show at their regular theater, either.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:18 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:18 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Not to be a sourpuss, but that number just doesn’t work as well on TV as it does in the theater. And that is my topic sentence for this concert portion of the Tonys.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ET

Just got a good look at Chita Rivera’s crystal-studded mask, so fun.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:13 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:13 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

David Byrne and the cast of “American Utopia” perform “Burning Down the House,” albeit not on the set they usually use. There’s something … less theatrical about it. Though the audience is up and bopping.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Breaking: Bernadette Peters is getting her freak on. You heard it here first.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

Leslie Odom Jr. is such a charismatic host already. I love how there’s more movement in this part of the show, that we started outside the theater in Times Square and then to the big stage and then the audience, where Odom spoke to stars in their seats.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Totally. Feels like a real party in there.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:12 p.m. ET

David Byrne is up next! He says the fire department advises against dancing in the aisles — but he is kicking off with “Burning Down the House.”

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:10 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:10 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

I do love when people put the emphasis on the “way” in “Broadway”

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:08 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:08 p.m. ET

I’m excited for “Broadway’s Back” — the concert portion of the show. Leslie Odom Jr. is singing and dancing, and I just saw Elphaba from “Wicked”!

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Leslie Odom Jr. is looking sharp.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Welcome back to the live chat!

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Jesse, get out your dueling pistols.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:05 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:05 p.m. ET

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Credit…Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

The host of tonight’s Tony Awards concert — the portion of the evening broadcast on CBS — is Leslie Odom Jr., who arrived on Broadway as a replacement in “Rent,” but got his big break when he joined the original cast of “Hamilton” as Aaron Burr.

Odom, 40, won a Tony Award in 2016 for “Hamilton,” and this year was nominated for two Academy Awards for his work as both a performer and songwriter for the film “One Night in Miami.”

He was also featured in the films “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Harriet,” and will appear in the forthcoming “Knives Out 2.” His work on television has included “Smash” and “Central Park.” Also: he has recorded several albums of music.

Raised in Philadelphia and educated at Carnegie Mellon University, he now lives in Los Angeles. He is married to the actress Nicolette Robinson, and they have two children.

Odom was an outspoken advocate for profit-sharing by the cast of “Hamilton,” helping to lead a successful campaign to persuade that show’s producers to give a small percentage of the profits to members of the original company.

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:02 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:02 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

This pre-show made the case that empathy and warmth are very much alive in the theater, and downplayed the business side completely. I am very happy about that. But let’s see if the investors still swarm the stage when best play and best musical are announced. Pandemic rules be damned!

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Adrienne Warren is only staying in “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” for a few weeks. But now, when she leaves, she can take a Tony Award with her.

Warren’s performance as Turner, a role she originated in London and then again when the show opened in New York in 2019, has thrilled audiences. Jesse Green, a theater critic for The New York Times, wrote, “In a performance that is part possession, part workout and part wig, Adrienne Warren rocks the rafters and dissolves your doubts about anyone daring to step into the diva’s high heels.”

“I really look forward to the day that the bodies and souls and spirits of those that are involved in these shows that we’re celebrating can be invited and join the celebration with us,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Because those bodies, those bodies, those souls, those spirits, they are what makes Broadway.”

“And the second we started making this business,” she continued, “and creating the business and working through the business through the lens of humanity and honoring those, those bodies and those souls and those spirits, the more the art will be transformative. The more the art will change lives, the more the art will change this world because the world has been screaming for us to change.”

“I am so grateful for this,” she concluded, “it means the world to me, thank you so, so much.

“Tina,” which has been closed since the start of the pandemic shutdown, is scheduled to resume performances on Oct. 8 with Warren in the title role; she is planning to depart the production on Oct. 31, and will be succeeded by Nkeki Obi-Melekwe.

Warren is starring as Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, in an upcoming ABC series, “Women of the Movement,” with a producing team that includes Jay-Z and Will Smith. And she recently signed a development deal with another of the show’s producers, Kapital Entertainment.

Warren, 34, grew up in Virginia and studied acting at Marymount Manhattan College. She made her Broadway debut in 2012 in “Bring It On: The Musical,” and then four years later had a breakthrough role with her Tony-nominated performance in “Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”

In 2016, Warren was among the founders of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which seeks to to combat racism. The organization is being honored this year with a special Tony Award.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:53 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:53 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

So do we think it’s all downhill from here? There are only three awards being given out in the 9-11 p.m. segment, so there’s a lot of room for mortifying “comedy.”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

Audra McDonald told me to go get a cookie, and I would never disobey her, so I’m going to grab some Oreos.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

I really liked the end of Adrienne Warren’s speech about bringing empathy to the industry, because of course what these kinds of awards shows emphasize is how much these are businesses.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

I don’t think “Tina” was the best show — bio-musicals, jukebox musicals are tough — but Adrienne Warren made it truly worth it. She really put all of the work into that performance. All of that dancing? The stamina! And the voice!

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Totally agree. I don’t like jukebox or bio-musicals, but her performance was bigger than my dislike for those things.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Adrienne Warren for best actress in a musical, of course. On opening night the audience wouldn’t sit down during the mid-show ovation.

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:46 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:46 p.m. ET

She was absolutely amazing in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Aaron Tveit is now a Tony winner.

This year was the first time Tveit has been nominated, and the circumstances were unusual: he was the only person nominated in the category, best leading actor in a musical.

Still, his win was not guaranteed: to claim the prize, he had to win the support of 60 percent of those who cast ballots in that category. And he did.

Tveit, 37, won for his performance as Christian, the besotted bohemian at the heart of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” which is adapted from the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film.

In accepting his award, he said, “We are so privileged to get to do this, to be on Broadway, to have a life in the theater.”

He added: “Let’s continue to strive to tell the stories that represent the many and not the few, by the many and not the few, for the many and not the few. Because what we do changes people’s lives. It changes people’s minds. It change’s people’s hearts. We can change the world with this. Let’s not forget that. This means more to me than I can ever say.”

Tveit arrived on Broadway as a heartthrob, playing the love interests in “Hairspray” (as a replacement Link Larkin) and “Wicked” (as a replacement Fiyero). His breakout came in 2009, when he starred as a dead adolescent, Gabe, in the hit show “Next to Normal”; he followed that up with a starring role as the con man Frank Abagnale Jr. in the short-lived stage adaptation of “Catch Me If You Can.”

Tveit, who is from the Hudson Valley and was educated at Ithaca College, is also known for starring in the “Grease: Live” television special (he played greaser-in-chief Danny Zuko) and for featured performances in a “Les Misérables” film adaptation (as the revolutionary Enjolras), and, most recently, this summer’s Apple TV Plus streamer “Schmigadoon!” (he was the bad boy carnival barker).

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Karen Olivo is not in attendance, and indeed has said it would be too difficult for her to watch the Tonys tonight. She has stepped away from commercial theater.

Best Leading Actress in a Musical

Adrienne Warren, “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Mary Louise Parker was quite stunning in “The Sound Inside,” not a role many actors could pull off.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:43 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:43 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Best thank you, to her dog, Mrs. Roosevelt.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Wow! Mary Louise Parker! She was great in “The Sound Inside.”

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

She has such attitude and fire. I love her.

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Mary-Louise Parker, “The Sound Inside”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:40 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:40 p.m. ET

I can’t see handsome men cry onstage. Aaron Tveit getting emotional in his speech is too much.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:38 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:38 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Now that Aaron Tveit has a Tony, can we talk about “Schmigadoon!”?

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:39 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:39 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Tveit is great as basically himself in “Schmigadoon!”

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Aaron Tveit, “Moulin Rouge!”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:37 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:37 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

And now, the best actor in a musical category. By a quirk of fate, the only nominee is Aaron Tveit, for “Moulin Rouge.” That makes him a very good bet if not quite a shoo-in. According to the rule formulated in the Middle Ages by Kabbalah scholars, even if he is the only nominee he must win 60 percent of the votes. That seems likely — and not undeserved, despite the permanent asterisk attached to the win.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Can I just state my undying love for Tom Hiddleston? I don’t think he should have won best actor in a play, but I really enjoyed “Betrayal,” and always love seeing him perform (even when he’s not starring as a Norse god of mischief). I watched him in a National Theater Live filmed production of “Coriolanus” a few months ago, too.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

I loved him in “Coriolanus,” too! He’s just the greatest.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Agreed! I do think he, or his free-flowing nose, deserved SOME kind of award.

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Andrew Burnap, “The Inheritance”

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:33 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:33 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

The best actor in a play category is a bit odd, with some (to me) obvious names missing.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Name names, Jesse.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

And the win, for Andrew Burnap of “The Inheritance,” is odder yet. Not that he wasn’t good, but. …

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Audra McDonald just said the commercial break wasn’t long enough for us to recover from Jennifer Holliday’s performance, and that’s 100 percent the truth.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:31 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:31 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Can I say that I did not miss, AT ALL, the usually de rigueur comedy opening? And all the fake joviality?

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

Jesse, how can you say that James Corden doing “You Can Be In This Show?” isn’t worth trying for every year???

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Jesse Green

Chief theater critic

Oy, Taffy, add it to the list for our duel.

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Taffy Akner

Features writer

I can’t wait for our buddy comedy, Jesse!

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:55 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:55 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

For the first time, a play, not a musical, has claimed the crown for best original score.

All five of the nominees in the category — “A Christmas Carol,” “The Inheritance,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Slave Play” and “The Sound Inside” — have nary an aria, belt or 11 o’clock number (though they do have instrumental melodies).

This is only the ninth year that a non-musical play has been nominated for a Tony Award in the category. (The others: “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1973; “The Good Doctor” in 1974; “The Song of Jacob Zulu” in 1993; “Twelfth Night” in 1999; “Enron” and “Fences,” both in 2010; “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “One Man, Two Guvnors,” both in 2012; “Angels in America” in 2018; and “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 2019.)

But wait, you might be thinking, what about “Jagged Little Pill,” “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”? Weren’t they eligible?

Nope. They’re all jukebox musicals, in which a majority of the songs are well-known popular music rather than original scores, and therefore aren’t eligible. (Though Turner, Alanis Morissette and the 161 writers whose 70 songs make up “Moulin Rouge!” catalog did win plenty of Grammys of their own.)

Of course, you might remember that there was one musical eligible for the award in the pandemic-shortened season — the young-adult adventure “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” — but it failed to pick up a single nomination in any of the categories it was eligible for, including this one.

So, a play it is.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:46 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:46 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lauren Patten’s path to a Tony Award seemed assured from the moment she stepped onto the stage in the 2018 pre-Broadway run of “Jagged Little Pill” at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.

Her rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” midway through the second act, was so electric that a prolonged audience ovation stopped the show during the very first preview. The Boston Globe even wrote a story about it. And it continued, if anything intensifying, throughout the show’s prepandemic Broadway run, which began in late 2019.

Now the 29-year-old actress is a Tony winner — best featured actress in a musical — for her portrayal of Jo, a high school student whose heart gets broken.

Patten’s win comes at a complicated moment for her, as “Jagged Little Pill” wrestles with criticism over how her character’s gender identity has been depicted over time.

During the show’s pre-Broadway run, some people saw the character as a rare example of nonbinary representation in a major musical; when the show then transferred to Broadway, some of those fans were disappointed with how the role had evolved.

“We are in the middle of a reckoning in our industry,” she said as she accepted the award, “and first and foremost I want to thank my trans and nonbinary friends and colleagues who have engaged with me in difficult conversations and joined me in dialogue about my character, Jo.”

She continued, “I believe that the future of the change we need to see on Broadway comes from these kinds of conversations that are full of honesty and empathy and respect for our shared humanity. And I am so excited to see the action that comes from them, and to see where that leaves our future as theater artists in this country.”

In the Cambridge production, Jo described an argument with her mother, saying, “Yeah, Angie’s chill about the lesbian stuff, but last night she was like ‘I don’t get it; do you want to be a boy or a girl?’ And I said, ‘First of all, if I got to decide what I was, I’d be a koala.’ Then I tried to explain the whole gender spectrum thing.”

On Broadway, that exchange is gone, but Jo describes a conversation with her mother this way: “Oh yeah, the queer panic is at an all-time high. She’s like ‘Why would you choose to look like a boy?’ And I’m like ‘Why would you choose to look like the Talbots catalog threw up on you?’”

As early as 2019, the show’s writer, Diablo Cody, said “Jo has always been cis” and said the production didn’t “want the character to be read as trans or as nonbinary, because the actress who is playing the role is cisgender.” But earlier this month the production issued an apology as part of a broader statement about the issue.

“In Jo, we set out to portray a character on a gender expansive journey without a known outcome,” the lead producers said. “Throughout the creative process, as the character evolved and changed, between Boston & Broadway, we made mistakes in how we handled this evolution. In a process designed to clarify and streamline, many of the lines that signaled Jo as gender non-conforming, and with them, something vital and integral, got removed from Jo’s character journey.”

The character was built around Patten, who has been part of the show’s development since its early preproduction workshops, but the show has faced some criticism from those who think the character should be portrayed by a transgender or nonbinary performer. Patten recently apologized on Instagram, saying “I am profoundly sorry for the harm I caused.”

“It is my deepest hope for Jo to be a character that can be claimed and owned by folks of many queer identities — butch and masc women, nonbinary and genderqueer folks, trans men, and many more,” she wrote. “Theatre has the power and the potential to be expansive, and I hope that Jo can be a representation of that moving forward.”

Patten is scheduled to return with most of the original cast when “Jagged Little Pill” resumes Broadway performances on Oct. 21.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lois Smith, 90, is at last a Tony winner. And not just a winner — she is now the oldest performer to win a Tony Award for acting.

“I love the processes of the live theater,” said Smith, who won for her portrayal of Margaret, the caretaker of a sanctuary for men dying of AIDS-related illnesses, in Part 2 of Matthew López’s more-than-six-hour epic “The Inheritance.”

“I first worked on ‘The Inheritance’ in a workshop where Matthew López was finishing a play about the AIDS plague, and it was partly based on E.M. Forster’s book “Howards End,” which had been my favorite novel for as long as I can remember,” she continued. “E.M. Forster gave us — there’s a famous two-word message from “Howards End,” which is so apt, I think, tonight for all of us who are here celebrating the importance, the functions, of live theater: ‘Only connect.’ ”

In his review of the play in The Times, Ben Brantley called Smith’s performance as the show’s sole female character “quietly brilliant.” She beat out Jane Alexander, 81, who was up for “Grand Horizons,” as well as Cora Vander Broek (“Linda Vista”), Annie McNamara (“Slave Play”) and Chalia La Tour (“Slave Play”).Cicely Tyson, who died earlier this year at 96, previously held the record. She was 88 in 2013 when she won in the same category for her role in the revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful.”

In an interview with Variety in March 2020, Smith acknowledged that her performance schedule in “The Inheritance” was pretty, well, cushy. She doesn’t appear onstage until late in the play, which was performed in two parts. So she only performed three times per week.

“I think to myself, ‘Now what’s going to happen to me?’” she said. “This may be the end of me. Suppose somebody asks me to do eight shows a week, what am I going to say? It’s hard to imagine at this point!”

She was first nominated for a Tony in 1990 for “The Grapes of Wrath,” and she was nominated again, in 1996, for “Buried Child” — both times for best featured actress in a play.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:40 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:40 p.m. ET

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Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The vast majority of the Tony Awards granted on Sunday are honoring shows that have been rehearsed to an excessive degree — every step onstage precisely choreographed, every note and line repeated to perfection.

And while the cast of “Freestyle Love Supreme” has undoubtedly put in their share of rehearsal time to do what they do, the show is receiving a special Tony Award for creating something entirely different: an improvised, rapped, beat-boxed musical performance whipped up anew every night from audience suggestions.

The honor comes at a fitting time for the industry: It was a production that, by its nature, celebrated the fleeting and constantly reinventive experience of seeing live theater.

The show ran for several months at the Booth Theater starting in September 2019, and it is set to return to Broadway on Oct. 7, followed by a national tour starting in San Francisco. But the troupe’s origins go back to the early aughts, when it was established by Anthony Veneziale, Thomas Kail and, most recognizably, Lin-Manuel Miranda — before “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” both Tony Award winners for best new musical.

In his review for The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote that it was an “exultant master course in the fine art of hip-hop.” Among the fluctuating cast on Broadway were Veneziale and Utkarsh Ambudkar, with a rotating lineup of surprise guest stars, including Miranda and fellow “Hamilton” alumni Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and James Monroe Iglehart.

Tony viewers who missed the 2019 run will get a taste of “Freestyle Love Supreme” at the end of the ceremony, when the cast is set to give the evening’s closing performance.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:22 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:22 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

David Byrne’s “American Utopia” originally ran on Broadway from October 2019 to February 2020. But it’s not a play or a musical, the Tony Awards nominating committee decided, rendering it ineligible in the top categories.

But there is one label that’s safe to apply to Byrne’s intimately staged theatrical concert: Cultural phenomenon. The show, which was born as a 26-country concert tour for Byrne’s 2018 album, “American Utopia,” rode the momentum to a four-month Broadway run, a Spike Lee-directed concert film that premiered on HBO and HBO Max last October, and now a return Broadway engagement that kicked off earlier this month.

In his review of the Broadway production, Ben Brantley called it a “cloud-sweeping upper” of a show in which Byrne “emerges as an avuncular, off-center shepherd to flocks of fans still groping to find their way.”

Byrne, 69, is set to lead his band of barefoot, gray-suited musicians in a performance at the Winter Garden Theater during tonight’s broadcast, in which “American Utopia” will be honored with one of three special Tony Awards.

The show’s 20 songs come from Byrne’s 2018 album of the same name, along with hits from his time as Talking Heads frontman and throughout his solo career, and are interspersed with cabaret-style patter about neuroscience, civil history and Brazilian, African and Latin instrumentation.

On a recent bike ride through Queens ahead of the show’s return to Broadway earlier this month, Byrne, a devoted cyclist, told The New York Times reporter Melena Ryzik that he didn’t mind the show’s outsized presence in his current slate of projects.

“It’s a very moving show to do,” he said, “and a lot of fun.”

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:18 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:18 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Danny Burstein has been nominated seven times for a Tony Award. Now he’s finally a winner.

Burstein won the featured actor in a musical award for his work in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” in which he plays the impresario Harold Zidler. The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2019, has just resumed performances.

Burstein, 57, is a much-loved Broadway veteran, who has appeared in 18 shows over the last three decades, often to acclaim. In recent years, he has starred as Alfred P. Doolittle in a revival of “My Fair Lady” and as Tevye in a revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The award comes at a difficult time for Burstein. His wife, the actress Rebecca Luker, died last December of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Earlier last year, Burstein was hospitalized with a frightening case of Covid-19.

“And I want to thank all of you,” he said in his speech, “because whether you know it or not, my wife passed away in December of A.L.S., and you all showed up for us, you were there for us whether you just sent a note or sent your love, sent your prayers, sent bagels.”

He continued, “It meant the world to us, and it’s something I’ll never forget, and I love being an actor on Broadway. Thank you.”

Burstein was raised in New York City and educated at Queens College and the University of California San Diego.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:08 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:08 p.m. ET

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Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

As Broadway attempts to rebound after an extended shutdown, theaters and productions are leaning on government funding to get up and running.

Under the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, the federal government allotted $16 billion to preserve theaters and other live-event venues as they weather the financial losses of the pandemic. The program has been plagued by delays and other blunders, but as of last week, $9.7 billion had been awarded to organizations across the country.

Hundreds of millions of that total has gone to Broadway, according to records from the Small Business Administration, which manages the grant program.

The funding amounts, which are calculated based on an organization’s earned revenue from 2019, can reach a maximum amount of $10 million. Many Broadway theater owners and productions qualified for that amount.

The three musicals nominated for the top award all received the maximum funding, or near it: “Jagged Little Pill” and “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” each received $10 million, while “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” received $9.9 million.

Some shows were able to qualify for more funding because of their touring productions. “Hamilton,” with its four touring shows, was awarded $50 million.

The $10 million injection was not enough to keep “West Side Story,” the avant-garde revival of the classic musical, alive. The show, which did not qualify for the Tony Awards because not enough voters had seen it before the shutdown, announced last month that it would not return to Broadway. The show said it would return its grant.

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:05 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 7:05 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Eight acting prizes will be given out tonight — four for work in musicals, and four for work in plays.

The musical prizes all have heavy favorites, and the favorites would all be first-time Tony winners.

Look for Adrienne Warren to win the leading actress in a musical prize for her star-making performance as Tina Turner in “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical,” and for Lauren Patten to win as featured actress for her showstopping vocals in “Jagged Little Pill.”

Aaron Tveit, the only nominee for leading actor in a musical, should easily pick up that prize for playing the bohemian Christian in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” (He needs to win support from 60 percent of those who cast ballots in the category to do so.) His co-star Danny Burstein is the favorite in the featured actor category, for playing the impresario Harold Zidler.

The play categories are thought to be much tighter, in part because there are fewer voters — to participate in any Tony race, a voter had to have seen each nominated performance, and that narrowed the pool of qualified voters.

But watch for one possible record to be set: Lois Smith, 90, is a leading contender for best featured actress in a play, for her work in “The Inheritance.” If she wins, she will become the oldest person ever to win a Tony Award for acting, a record previously held by Cicely Tyson, who won at 88.

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:54 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:54 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

As hard as it may be to believe, the last time a play by a Black writer won the Tony Award for best play was in 1987, when August Wilson won for “Fences.”

That could change this year, when the leading contender is “Slave Play,” a daring drama by Jeremy O. Harris that uses an imaginary form of couples therapy to explore the lingering impact of slavery. The play scored more Tony nominations — 12 — than any in history; it won strong review from critics and managed to achieve a level of buzz that is rare for any play, although, like most plays, it ended its run without recouping its capitalization costs.

But “Slave Play” was also polarizing, leaving an opening for another drama to claim the prize. The most likely upset would be by “The Inheritance,” a two-part drama by Matthew López about two generations of gay male New Yorkers. That play was heralded in London, but was greeted with far more skepticism in New York; its run was also unprofitable, and was cut a few days short by the pandemic.

The most likely winner in the category of best play revival will be “A Soldier’s Play” or “Betrayal.”

“A Soldier’s Play” is a 1981 drama by Charles Fuller, about the murder of a Black sergeant in the U.S. Army, that won the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published. It was then adapted into a Hollywood film, but didn’t make it to Broadway until 2020. The production, directed by Kenny Leon, starred Blair Underwood and David Alan Grier, and was presented by the nonprofit Roundabout Theater Company.

“Betrayal” is a 1978 play by Harold Pinter about an extramarital affair. The revival was a commercial production, transferred from London, directed by Jamie Lloyd and starring Tom Hiddleston.

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:42 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:42 p.m. ET

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Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The three nominees for best musical are “Jagged Little Pill,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.”

All of them are jukebox musicals — meaning that their scores consist of previously recorded pop songs — and all of them opened in 2019.

The three nominated musicals are reopening this fall. “Moulin Rouge!,” which is an adaptation of the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film, began performances on Friday; “Tina,” which is a biomusical about the life and career of Tina Turner, returns Oct. 8; and “Jagged Little Pill,” a contemporary family drama inspired by the Alanis Morissette album, returns Oct. 21.

Only one show with an original score opened before the pandemic — “The Lightning Thief” — but it was shut out by nominators. Several other musicals with original scores were slated to open in 2020, but didn’t make it to opening night before theaters shut down. One side effect of this unusual situation: all the nominees for best score are plays.

A fourth jukebox musical, “Girl From the North Country,” opened right before the shutdown but was deemed ineligible for awards because not enough Tony voters managed to see it. That show, a drama inspired by the songs of Bob Dylan, is scheduled to resume performances Oct. 13.

There are no nominees for best musical revival, because the only one that opened before the pandemic, “West Side Story,” also was not seen by enough voters. And now that production is over — its producers have decided not to reopen it.

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sept. 26, 2021, 6:30 p.m. ET

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Credit…Rachel Papo for The New York Times

You would think in a year with so few Tony-eligible musicals — only four eked out an opening before the season’s mid-February cutoff — they would all have a decent shot at taking home a statuette.

Well. Almost all of them.

When nominations were announced last October, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” was the only musical completely snubbed. (The remaining three — “Jagged Little Pill,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” — are all contenders for best new musical.)

“The Lightning Thief” has a fairly devoted built-in fan base, many of whom grew up reading the best-selling young-adult novel from which the show was adapted. The story follows a 12-year-old boy who discovers his father is a Greek god, finds a summer camp full of other young demigods like him and fights various mythological monsters along the way.

But the omission was not a surprise. Critics were less than thrilled with the production, which opened for a limited run at the Longacre Theater in October 2019 after a national tour and a stint Off Broadway. (In The New York Times, Jesse Green wrote that it had “all the charm of a tension headache.”)

A show being predictably, and perhaps rightfully, shut out of any awards consideration isn’t usually met with much attention — but the lack of any “Lightning Thief” nods has left a strange vacuum in some categories. Even as this season’s only eligible musical with an original score (a selection of primarily angsty, albeit catchy, rock numbers by Rob Rokicki), nominators instead opted to exclusively acknowledge scores from plays. Perhaps most notably — with the musical’s Percy, Chris McCarrell, left out of the race for leading actor in a musical — Aaron Tveit of “Moulin Rouge!” is the category’s sole contender.