Review Roundup: The 75th Annual Tony Awards; What Are the Critics Saying?

See what the the critics thought of the 75th Annual Tony Awards hosted by Ariana DeBose!

By: Jun. 13, 2022
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Review Roundup: The 75th Annual Tony Awards; What Are the Critics Saying?

Last night, the American Theatre Wing's 75th Tony Awards made their grand return to Radio City. See what the critics thought of the ceremony below!

The evening was presented in two parts. The Tony Awards: Act One was a one-hour broadcast exclusively on Paramount+ hosted by Darren Criss and Julianne Hough. The pre-ceremony presented awards to several Broadway designers and included a tribute to Angela Lansbury as she received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The broadcast was followed by the 75th Annual Tony Awards airing on CBS, hosted by Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose.

The evening included performances by this year's Tony Award-nominated musicals, plus performances by Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters, Billy Porterand a special reunion performance by the original cast members of the 2007 Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakening."

Check out the full list of winners here and watch every performance from the Tony Awards here.

Nicole Herrington, New York Times: "Ariana DeBose, the former theater understudy turned recent Oscar winner, was the host of the three-hour broadcast portion of the ceremony on CBS. But it was Darren Criss and Julianne Hough, hosts of the first hour of the ceremony on Paramount+, who delighted one of our writers with their endearing eagerness to put on a show. As for the awards themselves: There were a few pleasant surprises but voters showed that they were craving the familiar."

Greg Evans, Deadline: "MJ, Paradise Square and A Strange Loop were the clear winners when it came to tonight's performances. With Myles Frost leading the charge of MJ's 'Smooth Criminal' and Joaquina Kalukango setting the stage afire with her searing 'Let It Burn' from Paradise Square, both productions should see some action at the box office this week."

Johnny Oleksinski, NY Post: "At the Tonys, [Sondheim's] death was a total afterthought - a quick song from Peters and a couple of videos - even though producers had months to plan a star-studded number honoring him. The debacle was befuddling. As was most of the low-energy, poorly put-on 75th Annual Tony Awards on CBS."

Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Tonight: "The show delivered on that promise, honoring a spate of Black artists, including Myles Frost, Joaquina Kalukango, and Michael R. Jackson and the entire company of A Strange Loop (including Jennifer Hudson who achieved EGOT status for her win as a producer). It's a step forward for a medium that can perhaps be perceived as more elitist than film or television."

Jennifer Vanasco, NPR: "DeBose, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in Stephen Spielberg's West Side Story, gave a master class on how to host an awards show - or really, any show. She was funny and playful, strutting into the audience and sitting on Andrew Garfield's lap. She was poignant, coming to tears as she talked about her theater teacher mentor. She was honest, gently commenting on the racial disparities in the theater industry."

Jocelyn Noveck, AP News: "The night was hosted by a supremely confident and versatile (and recent Oscar winner) Ariana DeBose, who declared at the beginning that Broadway had gotten its groove back. But a quick glance around the room at Radio City Music Hall showed that challenges remain. While nominees and guests in the orchestra were maskless (having submitted COVID-19 tests), those in the balconies were all masked."

Gordon Cox, Variety: It was "Mr. Saturday Night" that perhaps got the canniest showcase, with a sequence that nodded at the production's ensemble before making way for the star attraction, Billy Crystal, effortlessly winning over the crowd at Radio City - and giving TV viewers a taste of the fun they, too, might have if they bought a ticket to Crystal's Broadway show.

Jackson McHenry, Vulture: "The opening number was one thing - who can say who wrote it? Maybe it was one very scattered performance? - but then it became clear that Ariana DeBose would be bringing overwhelming, hyper-self-conscious, deliberately mannered Miranda Sings vibes all night, and at that moment, every member of the audience and every one viewing at home sighed and said '...fine, okay. Fine.'"

Andrea Wurzburger, People: "Joaquina Kalukango took home the Tony for lead actress in a musical for her role as Nelly O'Brien in Paradise Square - and after seeing her sing "Let It Burn" earlier in the evening, her win was no surprise! The actress delivered an emotional and powerful performance that had the audience on their feet in a standing ovation."

Mark Kennedy, Charlotte Observer: "Having been freed of handling the technical awards, the main telecast had a less frantic, more airy feel. DeBose was an assured, funny and versatile host, one who roamed the seats, sat in Andrew Garfield's lap, danced with Sam Rockwell and prompted Laurence Fishburne to do a Daffy Duck imitation."

Melissa Locker, TIME: "After a rough few years of COVID-related closures, Broadway had a lot to celebrate and it did in style with a star-studded party hosted by West Side Story star Ariana DeBose."

Charles Hilu, National Review: "What she lacked in name recognition, she made up for in talent, energy, and overall likability. DeBose was entertaining in nearly every second she appeared on screen. Her opening number was explosive, and the other bits of music she performed were charismatic and fun to watch."

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