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Our favorite moments from the 2022 Tony Awards

June 12, 2022 by Suzy Evans
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The Tony Awards are back and better than ever, and if you’re anything like us, you spent four hours on Sunday night, all weekend, or heck, the last two and a half years since the first show eligible this season opened waiting for this moment.

The Tony Awards are an incredible celebration of Broadway, and this year theatre royalty, Tony nominee, and newly minted Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose hosted the ceremony. Here at TodayTix, we’re Ariana’s biggest fans, so basically the entire telecast was everything we wanted and more for the Tonys triumphant return to Radio City Music Hall.

See our favorite moments from the 2022 Tony Awards below, and book tickets to a Tony Award-winning show on TodayTix.

Ariana DeBose pays homage to musical theatre in her opening number “This Is Your Round of Applause”

Ariana DeBose is the ultimate triple threat, and she took her talents to the max in her opening medley of excerpts from some of the top musicals of the past several years. From Evita to Rent to Hairspray to Hamilton, DeBose danced and sang original takes on songs from each show, and even shouted out her former Hamilton co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was smiling in the audience. She sang “Somwhere” from West Side Story, as clips of Audra McDonald, Adrienne Warren, Jeanine Tesori, and Lisa Kron thanking women at past Tony Awards played over.

But the best part was the shoutout to all the behind-the-scenes workers, swings, and understudies and everyone who has kept Broadway running. “I’m really passionate about this because I was an understudy,” DeBose said later, noting that many of the dancers in the opening number have been as well.

Understudies take center stage

There were so many shoutouts to the amazing understudies and swings through the ceremony, but a real understudy actually went on for the Tonys! Dance captain and Six alternate Mallory Maedke went on with 12 hours notice for Jane Seymour in for the show’s Tony performance and got a shoutout from Ariana after the song!

PATTI LUPONE in “Company” on Broadway. (Photographed by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg.)

Patti LuPone thanks Chris Harper. Again.

Chris Harper, ever heard of him? The man who pays Patti LuPone’s salary and produced Company on Broadway. (Check out our Patti merch line.) LuPone was emotional accepting her third Tony Award, giving equal shoutouts to her cast from the show in the West End and her “hometown cast” on Broadway. LuPone also gave a heartfelt thank you to the Covid safety officers, who have kept everyone safe onstage and in audiences this season.

Marianne Elliott

Marianne Elliott also wins her third Tony Award.

A woman has only won a Tony Award for Best Director 11 times, and three of those times, that winner was Marianne Elliott. She’s also the only woman to have won multiple Tonys for Best Director, and Company marks her first time winning for directing a musical. “Thank you first and foremost to Stephen Sondheim for trusting me to tell him story in a different way and putting a woman front and center,” Elliott said in her speech, before also thanking Chris Harper.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson gets emotional winning his first Tony Award.

Self-proclaimed theatre kid Jesse Tyler Ferguson gave an emotional thank you as he won his first Tony Award for Take Me Out. “Mom and dad thank you for letting me move to New York when I was 17 years old, I told you it would be okay!” Ferguson said, before he grabbed his speech from his jacket pocket to made sure he thanked everyone on his list. The orchestra started playing but he did not, taking his well-deserved time in the spotlight!

Billy Crystal scats in Yiddish with everyone in the Tony Awards audience.

Mr. Saturday Night himself brought everyone in the Tony Awards audience together with a show-stopping performance from his musical. And he made sure everyone from the orchestra to the mezzanine to the balcony got in on the action.

Ariana DeBose picks on all the celebrities “in the audience”

Tonys host and Sam Rockwell, AKA the star of Fosse/Verdon and Tony nominee for American Buffalo, danced a little Fosse in the audience. DeBose teased that the pair have worked together on an upcoming film, and if the mini dance break is any indication, we’re in for something fun! She also sat in Andrew Garfield’s lap, as Garfield hid behind DeBose as she sang an entertaining number about actors interacting with audience members.

Lilli Cooper shouts out her dad, Tony nominee Chuck Cooper
We love a theatre family! When POTUS star Lilli Cooper spoke about the American Theatre Wing’s mentorship program, she gave a shoutout to her emotional dad Chuck Cooper, who was nominated this year his performance in Trouble In Mind.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters honored Stephen Sondheim

The theatre lost a titan in Stephen Sondheim this year, and Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke about Sondheim’s role as an inspiration and teacher for so many in the community. Bernadette Peters, who has starred in countless Sondheim musicals, performed “Children Will Listen” from Sondheim’s Into the Woods. We don’t know about you, but there was not a dry eye in our house.

Standing ovation for Michael R. Jackson

“Okay, shut up shut up shut up!” Jackson said as he took the stage to accept his Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for A Strange Loop. Jackson delivered an emotional shout out to all the writers and creatives in the room, harkening back to his own beginnings with the show which he started writing when he needed an escape and a “life raft” for himself. “Never settle, just do your best.”

Spring Awakening reunion performance

The entire original company of Spring Awakening reunited to perform “Touch Me,” with Jonathan Groff, John Gallagher Jr., Lea Michele, Skylar Astin, and so many more singing a moving rendition of the emotional song. Just announce a Spring Awakening revival — we’re ready!

Joaquina Kalukango singing “Let It Burn” and winning a Tony

If Cynthia Erivo gives you a standing ovation, you win a Tony Award. That’s just what Joaquina Kalukango did after performing her earth-raising eleven o’clock number “Let It Burn” from Paradise Square. Kalukango’s Color Purple co-stars Erivo and Danielle Brooks presented her with her award, which she accepted in a poignant, heartfelt speech.

Dana H.

Deidre O’Connell wants you to make the weird art.

Deidre O’Connell won Best Leading Actress in a Play her mold-breaking performance in Dana H, an innovative play based on playwright Lucas Hnath’s mother’s own story. “Please let me be a sign from the universe to make the weird art,” O’Connell said in her emotional acceptance speech.

MJ The Musical

Myles Frost becomes the youngest solo winner in the Leading Actor in a Musical category

Frost broke out into a little Michael Jackson soft shoe when he accepted the Tony Award for portraying the Prince of Pop in MJ. Frost is the youngest person to win solo for Leading Actor in a Musical, and he gave thanks to his family and his company with a little nod to Jackson. With love.