It doesn’t suck to be David Stone today.
Nineteen years after the satiric Avenue Q (“It Sucks to Be Me”) upset the Stone-produced blockbuster Wicked at the Tony Awards, the 56-year-old won his first Best Musical Tony, for Kimberly Akimbo, and his second for best play revival, Suzan Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog.
Kimberly Akimbo, the quirky, life-affirming show about a teenager with a rare aging condition, also won for Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire’s score, Lindsay-Abaire’s book, lead actress Victoria Clark and featured actress Bonnie Milligan.
Other winners at the ceremony at the United Palace in Washington Heights — which was broadcast on CBS without writers in a compromise with the striking Writers Guild of America: Tom Stoppard’s epic Holocaust drama Leopoldstadt, produced by Sonia Friedman and Roy Furman; the musical revival Parade (produced by Greg Nobile, Jana Shea and Ambassador Theatre Group), whose composer-lyricist, Jason Robert Brown, was played offstage by his own music before he could speak; and host Ariana DeBose, who met the moment with terrific dancing, high-energy and self-awareness.
“So to anyone who may have thought last year was a bit unhinged, to them I say, ‘Darlings, buckle up,” DeBose joked early in the show.
Presenter Denée Benton created a viral moment with a cheeky slip of the tongue — well received in the theater — calling Ron DeSantis the “Grand Wizard” of Florida, instead of Governor.
“Actors are great improvisors,” playwright, screenwriter and director Patrick Marber said in the Tony press room of the lively ceremony, after winning for his staging of Leopoldstadt. “I wouldn’t like it to become a trend but I’m not surprised” the broadcast worked without writers.
Just as the tiny, $3.5 million Avenue Q vanquished Wicked, with a capitalization of $14 million (equal to $23 million today), the 769 Tony voters favored the $7 million Kimberly over Some Like it Hot ($17.5 million), New York, New York ($25 million), & Juliet ($20 million) and Shucked ($16 million).
Two of the season’s biggest successes, Into the Woods and & Juliet, received no Tonys. Meanwhile, Some Like it Hot and Shucked became the first shows to win for nonbinary performers, for J. Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell.
Of course, making history and making money aren’t the same. With the exception of & Juliet, the Max Martin jukebox musical that’s begun returning money to investors, all the Best Musical nominees need a post-Tony bounce.
Kimberly had operating losses of $1.5 million in its first two months at the Booth Theatre, according to a financial statement filed with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. Even with its modest weekly expenses of about $570,000, it’s likely had few profitable weeks on Broadway.
After a successful autumn, Leopoldstadt has suffered losses since mid-February. Its weekly fixed costs are $580,000, excluding royalties, according to estimates filed a year ago with the state. That exceeds its recent weekly published grosses. It doesn’t have much time to enjoy any box office benefits from its Tonys, which includes a nod for featured actor for Brandon Uranowitz. It’s scheduled to close on July 2.