“Well, well, well… welcome to the 76th Annual Tony Awards”: With these words, US actress Ariana DeBose greeted her audience at the New York United Palace on Sunday evening and then quickly got to the point. “We don’t have a script, folks – I’m live and unscripted!”

The TV broadcast of the most important musical and theater award in the United States had previously been on the brink because the writers’ union “Writers Guild of America” ​​is currently on strike. Televised award ceremonies, however, follow a script.

In the end there was a compromise: the organizers agreed not to use any script texts on stage. Two teleprompters in the room only displayed a countdown to keep the acceptance speeches on schedule. Nevertheless, people sang and danced; There were also words of support from some award winners for the demands of the union.

The drama “Leopoldstadt”, which tells the story of a Jewish family in Vienna over several generations, was awarded the best play. The author Tom Stoppard, who was born in 1937, fled with his family from what was then Czechoslovakia from the Nazis as a small child and came to Great Britain, where he largely discarded his Jewish identity and did not know how many family members were killed in the Holocaust.

tears in the audience

The trophy for best musical went to the comedy “Kimberly Akimbo” by writer David Lindsay-Abaire and composer Jeanine Tesori. The play is about a lonely but bright teenager in New Jersey who is made to look like an old lady because of an illness.

Meanwhile, two award winners wrote LGBTQ history: J. Harrison Ghee was honored as best musical actor in “Some Like It Hot”. Alex Newell received the award for best musical supporting actor in “Shucked”. The artists are the first Tony winners to openly identify as non-binary at the time of their awards.

LGBT is the English abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The variant LGBTQ is also often used. As with the Oscars, the Tonys only have gender-specific categories. Ghee and Newell had agreed in advance of a potential nomination for the Actor category. The audience responded with standing applause, tears flowed in the hall.

Instead of in the Radio City Music Hall in the heart of Manhattan, this year’s award ceremony took place in Washington Heights, located further north. According to the “New York Times”, the decision to change location was a financial one: The rent for the United Palace – a pompous cinema hall from the 1930s – was simply cheaper.

The Tony Awards are considered the most important award for musicals and plays in the USA, but only consider productions that were newly performed in one of the approximately 40 Broadway houses in New York’s theater district in the past year.