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The Most Memorable Moments of the 2024 Tony Awards

The 77th Annual Tony Awards - Show

The 77th Tony Awards celebrated Broadway’s biggest stars at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in New York City on Sunday night, with Ariana DeBose marking her third time as host of the ceremony.

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The night featured several tight races, including Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play—which saw Sarah Paulson (Appropriate) win after going up against Jessica Lange (Mother Play) and Rachel McAdams (Mary Jane).

Multiple actors were nominated for Tony Awards after making their Broadway debuts this season. Maleah Joi Moon, who was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her role in the Alicia Keys jukebox musical Hell’s Kitchen, didn’t just make a debut—the show, which garnered an eye-popping 13 nominations, is her first-ever professional production.

Stereophonic, a show filled with Broadway debuts and also has 13 nominations, sees two standout performances from Sarah Pidgeon and Juliana Canfield, who are up against each other in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category.

Viewers also got exciting performances from different musicals on Broadway, including Stereophonic, Merrily We Roll Along, The Outsiders, The Who’s Tommy, Cabaret, and Hell’s Kitchen.

From heartfelt performances to honest speeches, here are the highlights of the 2024 Tony Awards.

Most New York Moment

If you’re heading to a Broadway theater, it’s impossible to walk through the Times Square area without hearing Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” more than once in its entirety from the speakers of street vendors or pedicabs attempting to entice tourists for a ride. The first performance of Tony Awards was a medley from Hell’s Kitchen, Keys’ semi-autobiographical musical, and included “Empire State of Mind.” Keys sang the seminal New York song and brought out one of the most famous New Yorkers, rapper Jay-Z, for an electric performance.

Jay-Z performing EMPIRE STATE OF MIND (in the lobby, on-screen) with Alicia Keys at the #TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/ucdn7JeHbh

— New York Magazine (@NYMag) June 17, 2024

Realest Shout Out

Succession star Jeremy Strong took home his first Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his work as Doctor Thomas Stockman in An Enemy of the People. In his speech, he took a moment to shout out the ushers and staff at the theater, “who see me walking in every day looking like I’ve just been run over by a truck and see me walk out looking, somehow, even worse”—which received animated applause from the crowd.

The eldest boy has finally won. “I want to thank the ushers and the front of house staff. #TonyAwards #JeremyStrong pic.twitter.com/6ruKR4zSDz

— Reshma Gopaldas (@reshingbull) June 17, 2024

Most Heartwarming Performance

Throughout the promotion for their show Merrily We Roll Along, Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, and Daniel Radcliffe have put their tight-knit friendship on full display and imbued their performances with familiarity and their delightful personalities. The trio brought that joy to the Tony Awards, with a performance of “Old Friends” from the Stephen Sondheim-composed musical. Later in the night, Radcliffe and Groff each won their first Tony Awards.

Daniel Radcliffe running across the audience to hug first-time Tony Award winner Jonathan Groff…okay I’m crying #TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/6mqKHK3gcS

— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) June 17, 2024

Most Emotional Dance Number

Illinoise adapts Sufjan Stevens’ striking and heartbreaking 2005 album Illinois into a Broadway production that pairs his devastating lyrics with beautiful dances. The company of Illinoise, which took home the Tony Award for Best Choreography, performed a heart-wrenching number that highlighted the beauty of the production.

Most Impassioned Speech

That was A SPEECH. Yes, Kecia Lewis! A first, so deserved #TonyAwards for a powerhouse performance in Hell’s Kitchen. A beautiful, felt, powerful encapsulation of family, identity, performance, and career. “Don’t. Give. Up.” pic.twitter.com/V7MINRKQY8

— Tim Teeman (@TimTeeman) June 17, 2024

Kecia Lewis is no stranger to the stage—she’s been on Broadway since 1981, when she made her debut in Dreamgirls. For her most recent role as Miss Liza Jane in Hell’s Kitchen, Lewis took home the award for Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical—her first Tony nomination and win, despite a decades-long career. Reflecting on her experience in the industry, Lewis shared some wisdom with those hoping to work on Broadway. “I’d to thank those people in my life who wouldn’t let me give up,” Lewis said. “Being in this business 40 years, I wanted to give up many times.”

Wackiest Performance

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne led the company of Cabaret in a zany performance of “Wilkommen.” Redmayne, who plays the Emcee, was joined by his co-star Gayle Rankin, the show’s Sally Bowles, and other actors from the show to give the audiences a taste of the wild show at the recently renovated August Wilson theater, which houses the Kit Kat Club.

Eddie Redmayne in Cabaret is my new sleep paralysis demon. jesus christ#TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/Sm3WYHwFrE

— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) June 17, 2024

dobby seeing lucius knowing harry is his new master: #TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/WiETEgyA8L

— Guilty as Slade? ? (@Jesse_bslade) June 17, 2024

Best Debut Win

Maleah Joi Moon’s undeniable talent as Ali in Hell’s Kitchen was rewarded Sunday night, when she won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. The 21-year-old beat out Broadway veterans and critical darlings alike, including Eden Espinosa, Kelli O’Hara, Maryann Plunkett, and Gayle Rankin. Moon seemed shocked at the win, and it was a surprise given that it was her first time performing in a professional production.

Most Deserved Win

The cast of Merrily We Roll Along was a front-runner for tonight’s Tony Awards. Jonathan Groff joined co-star Daniel Radcliffe in the winner’s circle and nabbed his first Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical as Franklin Shepard. This was Groff’s third nomination, after receiving two previously for his work as King George III in Hamilton and as Melchior Gabor in Spring Awakening. He thanked his co-stars in an emotional speech, saying, “Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendez, you are more than old friends, you are soul mates, and I’m looking forward to watching each other change for the rest of our lives.”

I’m gonna need every future award winner to take notes from Jonathan Groff’s Tonys speech, because damnnnnnn#TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/7ZtOgfL5iq

— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) June 17, 2024

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