Tony Awards: ‘Stereophonic,’ ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ ‘The Outsiders,’ and ‘Appropriate’ Take Top Prizes

“Stereophonic” and “Merrily We Roll Along,” two shows that examine the tension between art and commerce, triumphed at the 77th Tony Awards on Sunday, capturing prizes for best play and best musical revival. “The Outsiders,” a kinetic adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel, was named best musical, while best revival of a play went to “Appropriate,” a piercing and darkly funny tale of family dysfunction.

It was a night filled with tributes to following dreams and staying true to your artistic compass, as well as a show that alluded to the rise of authoritarianism around the world and revival of Trump-ism in the U.S. In one of many politically charged moments, Shaina Taub, who won Tony Awards for writing the book and the score of “Suffs,” a look at the women’s suffrage movement, urged the audience to remember that “when we organize, when we come together, we are capable of making real change in this country for equality and justice.” Later, one of the show’s producers, Hillary Clinton, took to the stage to a standing ovation.

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The former First Lady was there to introduce a number from “Suffs,” one of several energetic performances during the broadcast from the likes of “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” “Water for Elephants” and “Hell’s Kitchen” (which saw Alicia Keys joined by Jay-Z for “Empire State of Mind”). They represented just a handful of the 36 new productions and three special events that comprised the 2023-24 season. For many of these shows, winning a Tony Award, particularly in a major category, can mark the difference between an extended run and a closing notice. It is still seen as one of the best ways to attract audiences, particularly at a time when the theater business has not fully regained its pre-COVID stride.

With five awards, “Stereophonic” was the evening’s biggest winner, but if there was a statue for most unlikely comeback it would go to “Merrily We Roll Along.” The Stephen Sondheim show which moves backwards in time as it examines the fraying bonds between a trio of friends was a fiasco when it debuted on Broadway in 1981. It closed after 16 performances and 44 previews. And yet its revival was one of the major commercial successes of the season, as well as an awards season victor, earning four Tony Awards.

“Stereophonic,” the story of a Fleetwood Mac-like rock band, struggling to make an album while contending with too many drugs, too much romantic drama and too many clashing egos, earned prizes for Daniel Aukin’s direction, as well as the supporting performance of Will Brill as the most substance-addled member of the band. It was written by David Adjmi, who spent 11 years creating a show about artistic obsession and the drive to create something truly lasting.

“The Outsiders'” Danya Taymor was named best director of a musical. Taking off her heels as she accepted her award, she implored young artists: “Don’t be afraid to trust your gut. Artistic risk yields rewards.” The show’s Oscar-winning producer Angelina Jolie was on hand to watch “The Outsiders” capture its four honors (CBS’ cameras panned back repeatedly to the Oscar-winning movie star throughout the broadcast to catch her reactions). Going into the evening, awards sages had predicted that “Hell’s Kitchen,” a semi-autobiographical look at Alicia Keys’ teenage years, would win best musical.

“Appropriate” marks the Broadway debut of its writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a two-time Pulitzer finalist whose other shows such as  “An Octoroon” and “The Comeuppance” were beloved by critics. It won three prizes, including best actress in a play for Sarah Paulson’s lacerating turn as a woman in a fight with her siblings for her father’s inheritance.

In an emotional speech, Paulson paid tribute to Janet McTeer, who she said inspired her with her work in the 1997 revival of “A Doll’s House.” “Some nights when I’m backstage I think about the indelible impact of her and I think about the walls of theaters all over this magical town holding the impact of each and every one of you in this room and all of those who came before. And I think how lucky those walls were to bear witness to the relentless interrogation of human experience that we endeavor to explore nightly for each other to give back to one another with the hope of finding some shared path towards the truth of being alive.”

Jeremy Strong was named best actor in a play for his performance as a doctor who raises the alarm about a public health crisis in “Enemy of the People” at great personal cost. Strong drew parallels between his character’s struggles and the moral dilemmas society is grappling with today. “This play is a cry from the heart and an exhortation to face up to the difficult truths that are staring us all down right now,” Strong said. “It’s been a privilege to give its warning and its hope to audiences.

Kara Young won best supporting actress in a play for her comic turn in “Purlie Victorious” as a woman involved in a scheme to buy back a community church. Even before her victory, Young made history as the first Black actor nominated for a Tony three years in a row. She was previously recognized for her work in “Clyde’s” and “Cost of Living.”

“Merrily We Roll Along’s” earned three of the four musical acting prizes, winning best actor in a musical for Jonathan Groff, as well as a statue for the supporting performance of Daniel Radcliffe. Groff thanked his parents for encouraging his theatrical pursuit, saying, ““I walk through life with an open heart because you let me know that I could.” In his acceptance speech, Radcliffe said “I will never have it this good again.” He noted that he had become so close to Groff and his co-star Lindsay Mendez that “I don’t really have to act in this show; I just have to look at you and feel everything that I want to feel.”

Kecia Lewis (who had to tell well-wishers to stop texting her as she accepted her statue) was named best supporting actress in a musical for her portrayal of an inspirational music teacher in “Hell’s Kitchen.” “I’d like to thank those people in my life who wouldn’t let me give up,” she said. “Being in this business 40 years, I wanted to give up many times.”

“Hells Kitchen” breakout Maleah Joi Moon was named best actress in a musical for her Broadway debut as a talented musician rebelling against an overprotective mother. She had trouble finding her speech in her purse after her name was called. She thanked her parents for the role they played in getting her to Broadway’s biggest stage. “‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is about a 17-year-old on the cusp of a dream,” she said. “I can’t imagine how many dreams differed, how many sacrifices each of you made.”

Ariana DeBose, the Oscar-winning star of “West Side Story,” hosted the Tony Awards for the third consecutive year. After a spirited dance number, DeBose nodded to the political and social upheaval around the world.

“Headlines are frankly terrifying most of the time, but the theater is a safe place for us all,” she said. “In the most trying of times art is imperative, because art reflects society and provides context for the very real situations that we find ourselves in today.”

Best Play

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Mary Jane

Mother Play

Prayer for the French Republic

WINNER: Stereophonic

Best Musical

Hell’s Kitchen


WINNER: The Outsiders


Water for Elephants

Best Revival of a Play

WINNER: Appropriate

An Enemy of the People

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Best Revival of a Musical

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Gutenberg! The Musical!

WINNER: Merrily We Roll Along

The Who’s Tommy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya

Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable

WINNER: Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People

Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic

Jessica Lange, Mother Play

Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane

WINNER: Sarah Paulson, Appropriate

Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Brody Grant, The Outsiders

Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along

Dorian Harewood, The Notebook

Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Eden Espinosa, Lempicka

WINNER: Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen

Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses

Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook

Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

WINNER: Will Brill, Stereophonic

Eli Gelb, Stereophonic

Jim Parsons, Mother Play

Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic

Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable

Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic

Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play

Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic

WINNER: Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical

Joshua Boone, The Outsiders

Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen

Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders

WINNER: Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along

Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen

Amber Iman, Lempicka

Nikki M. James, Suffs

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot

WINNER: Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen

Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along

Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Book of a Musical

Hell’s Kitchen – Kristoffer Diaz

The Notebook – Bekah Brunstetter

The Outsiders – Adam Rapp and Justin Levine

WINNER: Suffs – Shaina Taub

Water for Elephants – Rick Elice

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Days of Wine and Roses – Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel

Here Lies Love – Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim – Lyrics: David Byrne

The Outsiders – Music & Lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Stereophonic – Music & Lyrics: Will Butler

WINNER Suffs – Music & Lyrics: Shaina Taub

Best Scenic Design of a Play

dots, Appropriate

dots, An Enemy of the People

Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

WINNER: David Zinn, Stereophonic

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders

Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen

Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants

David Korins, Here Lies Love

Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka

Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical

WINNER: Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, Appropriate

WINNER: Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic

Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

David Zinn, An Enemy of the People

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen

WINNER Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby

David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants

Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People

Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic

Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic

WINNER: Jane Cox, Appropriate

Natasha Katz, Grey House

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise

Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen

Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants

WINNERS: Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane

Tom Gibbons, Grey House

Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate

WINNER: Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Best Sound Design of a Musical

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love

Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along

Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen

WINNER: Cody Spencer, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Play

WINNER: Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic

Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane

Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate

Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Best Direction of a Musical

Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along

Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen

Leigh Silverman, Suffs

Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants

WINNER: Danya Taymor, The Outsiders

Best Choreography

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love

Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen

Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders

WINNER: Justin Peck, Illinoise

Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Best Orchestrations

Timo Andres, Illinoise

Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic

Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders

Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen

WINNER: Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

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