“The Outsiders” upset the favored “Hell’s Kitchen,” in last night’s Tony Awards telecast from Lincoln Center in New York City. Big time spoiler surprise.

“The Outsiders,” with roots in a 50-year-old novel about teen angst in Tulsa, Oklahoma, became Broadway’s insider favorite musical, earning four Tonys including Best New Musical.

It toppled Alicia Keys’ favored biographical  jukebox tune fest, about growing up in creative community on Manhattan, which picked up just two awards from 13 nominations.

The evening’s big victor, however, was “Stereophonic,” voted Best New Play, despite its musical content, which earned the most Tonys, five, from a field of 13 noms.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim flop with origins four decades ago, collected four wins, in a resurrection mounting,  including Best Revival of a Musical, plus first-time Tonys for its two male leads, Johnathan Groff (Best Leading Actor in a Musical) and Daniel Radcliffe (Best Featured Actor in a Musical).

The disappointing outcome of “Kitchen” might have been an indicator, when Danya Taymor won Best Director of a Musical, for “The Outsiders,”  early on.

Some reflections:

Too much of a good thing:

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys jump into action, joining the “Hells Kitcheb” cast. However, they are not in the show..

Expectations were high for “Kitchen,” which received a somewhat over-hefty airtime of nearly 20 minutes, when three selections from the score were staged as the first of the salutes to the musical contenders. In the final moments, performers Alicia Keys and Jay-Z – who are not in the cast – took to the stage, then traipsed into the audience to compete the number to roaring applause. When the Best New Musical category, the evening’s nightcap, was to be announced, Keys appeared ready to return to the stage.  Ouch!

My favorite fling:

Disclosure: After being in New York for a week, watching five of the nominated shows, I assumed “Kitchen” would be the victor, and didn’t book tickets to see it, so I was  rooting for “Merrily We Roll Along,” for the camaraderie of the trio of leads, the unexpected humor and gentle charm of the Sondheim score, and the easy-flowing, easy-going melodics. The show also won a Tony for Best Orchestrations (Johnathan Tunick). For all the CD soundtracks available for sale, I opted for one such purchase: “Merrily.” And have been listening to the music since returning home.

Fast talker

Daniel Radcliffe won his first Tony, for “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Daniel Radcliffe was totally incredible as Charley Krigas, playing a lyricist in the show. He was hysterical in his acceptance comments, for his first Tony win as a featured actor in a musical, opining, I’m going to talk fast and try not to cry…I don’t even have to act in this show…I will never have it this good again.”

Cry, baby, cry

Johnathon Groff also picked up his first Tony for”Merrily We Roll Along.”

Jonathan Groff, 39, wept, went he started reading his prepared comments, triggering teary eyes for viewers. He won his first Tony as Best Leading Actor in a Musical, in which he played composer Franklin Shepherd in “Merrily We Roll Along.”

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was 3,” Groff said, addressing his parents. “Thank you for letting me act out scenes from ‘I ‘Love Lucy’ on my 10th birthday. Thank you for always allowing my freak flag to fly without ever making me feel weird about it.”

“Even if they didn’t always understand me, my family knew the lifesaving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment,

“I walk through life with an open heart because you let me know that I could,” he added.

VIP producers

Angelina Jolie

Two notables, one from the big screen, the other from the pollical realm, were key producers for shows that picked up trophies. Angelina Jolie, one of the producers of “The Producers,” introduced a production number.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced “Suffs,” a musical based on women suffragettes, which earned a Tony for Best Book of a Musical.  Wisely, she reminded everyone this is an election year, and encouraged all go out to vote, without political bias.

Hillary Clinton

Empty handed

To say that being nominated is ample reward, l let’s cut the bull. No one loves losing, but someone – or some shows, this case – go home empty handed.

These productions had zero results in the voting, though a few truly were denied recognition:

“Water for Elephants,” “Back to the Future: The Musical,” “Lempicka,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Here Lies  Love,” “Grey House,” “The Notebook,” “Gutenberg! The Musical, and “The Who’s Tommy.”

The local angle

Hawaii’s Nicole Scherzinger  delivered an emotional and fitting version of  “What I Did for Love,” an official show biz anthem from “A Chorus Line,” in a In Memoriam segment.  She likely will be a musical contender in next year’s Tonys, as she is starring as Norma Desmond, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” opening Oct. 20 on Broadway. It’s an import from the West End, where sh”e earned an Olivier Award.

Amazing artistry

One thing about the Tony show is how stage designers and stagehands can swiftly and handily replicate the original environments of the key nominees. The rainstorm from “The Outsiders” is a more complicated task, than the office-like setting for “Merrily We Roll Along.”  The circus-inspired template of  “Water for Elephants” opted for outdoor gym like space, with a later view of a circus tent, compared to the intricate rotating in-the-round set for “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” enabling the closeups of the Kit Kats and Eddie Redmayne’s Emcee’s “Wilkommen” opening number, with the best zoom-in shots of the revival.

Do we need a host?

Ariana DeBose completed her third gig as Tony host. The Oscar winner was fine when she brought diversity to the spotlight – the first Afro-Latino queer actor to earn an Academy Award for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”

She also was the first host to work without a script, when she fronted the Tony audience, when the pandemic was in full swing two years ago.

Her opening dance number lacked Broadway excitement and power, though her participation in the Chita Rivera tribute was stellar, with the kind of pizzazz with an emotional kick.

Time for  a newbie, next year?

And that’s Show Biz…


  1. Wayne,

    Sounds like you had a great trip to NYC and enjoyed the shows. Glad you got back home OK and safe! Aloha Dolores

Leave a Reply