Top 7 Tony Awards acceptance speeches: Patti LuPone, Jesse Tyler Ferguson …

I have always been a fervent believer that the Tony Awards will have the best acceptance speeches you’ll see every year and the 75th installment of the awards gala did not disappoint. After a weird two years since we last had what would be considered a “normal” ceremony, the Tonys were back in full force from Radio City Music Hall, on CBS and hosted by newly minted Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose. This year’s speeches reflected diversity, representation, love and family and the seven that we’ve selected below for the best of the night covered those bases in ways that were powerful, touching and funny. Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments below.

SEE 2022 Tony Awards: Every winner (and nominee) in all 26 categories

BOOK OF A MUSICAL: Michael R. Jackson, “A Strange Loop”
Rather than listing a bunch of names, which is not necessarily a bad thing, Jackson spoke right from his heart. “I started writing this musical when I was 23 years old, I’m 41 years old, I’m old as hell.” He elaborated that at the time he had no idea where his life was going and that he felt unheard and misunderstood. “I just wanted to create a little bit of a life raft for myself as a black gay man to try to just get through the day.” He finished his speech by quoting Jane Wyman, “There’s nothing that can replace quality. Never settle for anything less than the best you can do. Never settle. Just do your best.”

ACTRESS – MUSICAL: Joaquina Kalukango, “Paradise Square”
After blowing everyone away with her performance and receiving a standing ovation just for that, she got another one as she made her way up to the stage of Radio City. She gave thanks to God, her departed father, her mother and her sister who also designed her dress. “ All of my teachers at Tri-Cities High School for literally instilling my purpose in my life.” She finished by paying tribute to the what her character represented and to who she cherishes most. “I give thanks to all of the nameless ancestors who have suffered, this song, this show gives power to that. I honor them every day and thank you to my son. You are the biggest blessing in the world. I love you with every fiber of my being.”

ACTOR – MUSICAL: Myles Frost, “MJ”
After yelling out, “Mom, I made it,” the Bowie, Maryland native said, “I really gotta pee right now so I’ll keep it quick!” He continued to pay tribute to his mother for teaching him “what a strong black woman is, and what it is to raise a strong black man, and I just pray that I made you proud.” He added a special message to “all the little black kids out there who may not have a good relationship with their father, you can do it, first of all, and second of all, Dad, I love you because we support each other and we are black men, and we are strong black men at that.”

ACTRESS – PLAY: Deirdre O’Connell, “Dana H.”
O’Connell was probably caught the most off-guard by her win out of everyone this evening. The entire performance is her lip-syncing to the testimony of abduction survivor Dana Higginbotham, the mother of the play’s author, Lucas Hnath. O’Connell paid tribute to the literal voice of her character and thanked her for “letting us invade your privacy so completely.” But the best part came when she paid tribute to the unorthodox nature of the show. “I would love for this little prize to be a token for every person who is wondering, should I be trying to make something that could work on Broadway or should I be making the weird art that is haunting me, that frightens me, that I don’t know how to make, that I don’t know if anyone in the whole world will understand? Please let me standing here be a little sign to you from the universe to make the weird art.”

In winning her third career Tony Award, the living legend first reflected on how long it took the production to get to this moment. “Four years, two countries, a seemingly endless and extremely vulnerable locked down, three different viruses in three consecutive months and two sublime casts.” She then paid tribute to the people that have been vital to Broadway’s reopening. “A huge gratitude…to all of the COVID safety people.” Then she thanked her director and producer, who she famously invoked during a recent viral moment. “Marianne, I will follow you for the rest of my life wherever you lead. Chris Harper who pays my salary, you are my one and last producer.”

FEATURED ACTOR – MUSICAL: Matt Doyle, “Company”
In paying tribute to his fellow nominees, Doyle said thank you “to all the beautiful men in my category, my god you brilliant, brilliant men.” He also gave special thanks to his husband, Max Clayton by saying, “I love you. I don’t know what I would do without you. You really do leave love notes all over the place. I cannot believe what you put up with.” He thanked his parents who “believed in me pursuing my passion and believed in the arts and believed that the only way I would be happy was to live my life authentically.” After acknowledging George Furth and Stephen Sondheim, he bellowed out his character’s famous line, “I’m the next bride!”

FEATURED ACTOR – PLAY: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Take Me Out”
In accepting the night’s first award, Ferguson started by remembering how, 25 years ago, he was working in the Theater Circle Gift Shop. “I would sit in there, folding my ‘Phantom of the Opera’ T-Shirts and watching actors walk by the windows on the way to their half-hour call and I thought, ‘Oh God, I hope that’s me some day.’” He thanked his mom and dad for “letting me move to New York when I was 17 years old. I told you it would be ok!” In thanking his husband, Justin Mikita, he bragged about him being part of the producing team behind “Dana H.” and “Is This a Room” and then added “I am so endlessly proud of you, you have incredible taste,” before adding, “obviously.”

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