How Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald will host the Tony Awards

Neither has revealed details about the evening. Will McDonald sing? “It’s after 2020,” she said. “Expect anything anytime.” And Odom? “My first words were to exhaust myself,” he said. “However, I can help – if it’s a face pie, or singing a ‘Hamilton’ tune, whatever helps, ask me and let me.”

They pledged to honor the work done on the shows staged during the truncated 2019-20 season, while reminding viewers that Broadway has reopened. “These nominees have been waiting for so long, and letting them have their prom night is what I want to do,” McDonald said. “I want to talk about them and their accomplishments.”

Broadway, Odom said, “is going to be OK, over time, but I don’t know how long,” adding, “It’s a tough situation we’re in, and I don’t want to be a cavalier on what we are. But in the end there are young writers and performers from all over the world trying to write with an urgency and a relevance and a power that gives new life to the theater and reminds us of its necessity.

Both said they believed the traditional ‘in memoriam’ segment of this year’s awards ceremony – the first Tonys night since June 2019 – would be particularly important, with more than 680,000 deaths from the pandemic so far. ‘now in the United States only.

“Beyond making sure we put on a big show for America, I also want to make sure we get the right ‘in memoriam’ section because we’ve lost so much and we’re gone so long,” Odom said. “It’s a cloud that hangs over the evening. There are so many that we lost in the theater, and we also lost a lot of our audience. “

For McDonald’s, these losses are personal. Among those who died from complications from the coronavirus was playwright Terrence McNally, longtime mentor, collaborator and friend. (He has been a screenwriter on three shows she starred in: “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” and “Frankie and Johnny.”) She said she also mourned the death, since the last Tonys ceremony, of the cast. Nick Cordero, who also died of Covid, as well as Zoe Caldwell and Rebecca Luker.


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