Highlights from the 2024 Tony Awards ceremony

Read our recap of the most memorable wins, speeches, performances, and surprises from this year's celebration of the best Broadway theatre of the season.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Broadway's biggest night took place on June 16, with the Tony Awards ceremony happening at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Hosted by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose for the third year in a row, the Tonys celebrated the best of this year's Broadway musicals and plays.

During the event, numerous winners gave touching speeches, secured their first Tonys (some for their first nominations), and made history. The performances included starry surprises, and that was just half the fun to be had. Read on for a recap of last night's highlights, including winning shows you shouldn't miss.

Read the full list of 2024 Tony Award winners.

Get tickets to Tony Award-winning Broadway shows on New York Theatre Guide.

The Outsiders and Stereophonic took home top awards.

This year's Best Musical race was an unpredictable one with many contenders, but it was The Outsiders, based on S. E. Hinton's classic novel about teenage gangs, that took home the top prize. It was also one of the second-winningest shows with four awards, tied with Best Musical Revival winner Merrily We Roll Along.

They came in second only to Stereophonic, this year's Best Play. The show, written by David Adjmi and featuring songs by Will Butler, takes audiences into the recording studio with a '70s rock band and won five Tonys.

Additionally, Appropriate won the fourth major award: Best Play Revival.

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Get Stereophonic tickets now.

Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and the Hell's Kitchen cast brought down the house.

Hell's Kitchen, the new musical set to the songs of Alicia Keys, was the first nominated musical to perform at the ceremony. Keys herself came out to perform "Empire State of Mind" with the cast (which includes 2024 Tony winner Kecia Lewis, receiving her first award after 40 years on Broadway).

But that wasn't all. Keys also brought out a surprise guest: Jay-Z, with whom she originally recorded the song. Everyone in the audience (and in the press room) was dancing along — that explosive, energetic performance was the stuff dreams are made of.

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Jonathan Tunick was this year's oldest nominee — and oldest winner.

You might not know his name, but you know his work: 86-year-old Jonathan Tunick is a longtime collaborator with famed, late composer Stephen Sondheim, orchestrating his most famous musicals, including Sweeney Todd and Company. But he was never awarded for that work — until now, when he won his second Tony for Merrily We Roll Along.

“I’m especially proud to be winning my first Tony Award for a Sondheim musical," Tunick said in his acceptance speech. "Thank you, Steve, my old friend and teacher.”

Tunick has no shortage of accolades for his career, though — he's one of only 19 people with an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony).

Costume designer Dede Ayite made history.

For winning Best Costume Design of a Play for Jaja's African Hair Braiding, Dede Ayite became the first Black designer to win that award. This was her first Tony win after five nominations — and three of them were for her work this year! She competed against herself in this category for Jaja and Appropriate, and she was also nominated for Best Costume Design of a Musical for Hell's Kitchen.

Two writers won Tony Awards for their Broadway debuts.

Those writers were David Adjmi, who won Best Play for Stereophonic, and Shaina Taub, who won Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical for creating Suffs, about the women's suffrage movement.

Both had already made history before the ceremony: Taub was the second woman to ever be the sole writer and star of a Broadway show, and Adjmi's play is the most Tony Award-nominated play in history with 13 nods.

Get Suffs tickets now.

All the acting honorees were first-time winners.

Two had been nominated before: Jonathan Groff, who won Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Merrily We Roll Along, and Kara Young, who won Best Featured Actress in a Play for Purlie Victorious after being nominated for the past two years. The remaining six acting winners, though, won this year on their first nomination.

These winners were Sarah Paulson (Appropriate), Jeremy Strong (An Enemy of the People), Daniel Radcliffe (Merrily We Roll Along), Will Brill (Stereophonic), Kecia Lewis (Hell's Kitchen), and Maleah Joi Moon (Hell's Kitchen).

Jeremy Strong shared his real-life "showmance."

During his acceptance speech for Best Leading Actor in a Play for An Enemy of the People, Strong shared his touching history with playwright Amy Herzog, who adapted the Ibsen classic.

“The last time I did a play of yours, I met Emma, my wife, who I now have three beautiful children with,” Strong said to Herzog in his acceptance speech. How sweet!

Host Ariana DeBose poked fun at one of her previous hosting gigs.

The Oscar-winning actress hosted the Tonys two times before, but, perhaps more notably, she hosted the BAFTA Awards once in 2023. Her opening rap — specifically the line "Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis, my woman king" — went viral on social media last year.

Rather than taking it personally, DeBose used the moment as creative fodder. She jokingly shared an idea for a new Broadway musical: "3 hours, no intermission, based on my BAFTA rap." We'd watch it.

Danya Taymor continued a family legacy.

In 1997, Julie Taymor made history as the first woman to ever win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for The Lion King. Decades later, her niece, Danya Taymor, would also become a skilled Broadway director, winning the same award in 2024 for The Outsiders.

In her acceptance speech, Danya Taymor noted the record number of female directors on Broadway this season. All but one of her fellow nominees in that category was a woman.

A Tony winner led the audience in a singalong.

If theatre people are going to do one thing, it's sing. Teacher CJay Philip, the recipient of the special Tony Award for 2024 Excellence in Theatre Education. During her speech, she conducted the audience like a choir class: "Let the light within you shine," she sang, urging everyone to sing it back.

Billy Porter gave Brian Stokes Mitchell his Tony.

Well, kind of. Billy Porter has a competitive 2013 Tony Award for Kinky Boots, but this year, he accepted the special Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for his LGBTQ+ activism. Porter had fellow Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who presented the trophy to Porter, hold it while Porter pulled up his speech on his phone. He delivered a passionate message about fighting for the rights of queer people — but also “all human beings everywhere, period.”

Originally published on

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