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Tony Awards 2024 Snubs and Surprises: “Hell’s Kitchen,” F-Bombs, More

There were a whole lot of sure things heading into the 2024 Tony Awards ceremony — “Stereophonic,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” Daniel Radcliffe. But this year’s full list of winners had room for some unexpected twists and turns, too. You want snubs? You want surprises? Find ’em right here.

SURPRISE: An early F-bomb short-circuits Pluto TV’s censors
“I can’t believe I’m crying in front of so many f—in’ people,” said Cody Spencer (“The Outsiders”) in his acceptance speech for the musical sound design award, handed out during the “Act One” portion of the ceremony’s proceedings. Everyone watching Pluto TV, the streaming platform on which “Act One” aired, heard it — which was funny enough, but the real comedy came when Pluto TV blacked out completely for the next minute as slow-on-the-draw censors decided too late to nix the rest of his speech. But not before home viewers all caught a glimpse of Spencer’s “oops” face.

SNUB: Leslie Odom Jr. misses the award for “Purlie Victorious”
Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (“Succession”) added another trophy to his shelf when his performance in “An Enemy of the People” earned him the award for actor in a play in a leading role. He was one of the frontrunners in that category — but his victory left another actor with a lot of industry support, Leslie Odom Jr., off the winners’ list. At least Odom Jr. has that “Hamilton” trophy to keep him warm until he’s back at the Tonys again.

SNUB: Maria Friedman (“Merrily We Roll Along”) goes home empty-handed
Heading into Tony night, very few nominees seemed to have more of a lock on their category than Maria Friedman did on the award for best direction of a musical. Friedman is widely credited with reviving the reputation of Stephen Sondheim’s most notorious flop, and praised for directing a production that finally makes the show work for critics and audiences alike. But in the night’s first big upset, the award went to Danya Taymor, who was widely admired for her visually striking, occasionally violent staging of “The Outsiders.”

SURPRISE: Kecia Lewis (“Hell’s Kitchen”) takes the honor for featured actress in a musical
With all the love showered on “Merrily We Roll Along” over the course of the season, it seemed likely that Lindsay Mendez, nominated for featured actress for her performance in the revival (and already a Tony winner for “Carousel”), would have snagged the award that night. But instead voters opted to give the trophy to a theater veteran getting a long-awaited spotlight in “Hell’s Kitchen,” Kecia Lewis, playing the piano teacher who becomes a mentor to the young artist at the center of Alicia Keys’ loosely autobiographical musical.

SURPRISE: Shaina Taub scores for “Suffs”
If there was a frontrunner for the evening’s award for best score, it was, counterintuitively, a play (“Stereophonic”) rather than any one of the nominated musicals. But in a win for the season’s musical slate, Shaina Taub, the well-liked creator-writer-composer-star of “Suffs,” took home the trophy for her accomplished score for that show — and, while she was at it, she nabbed the award for best book, too.

SNUB: “Hell’s Kitchen” misses out on the top award for new musical
For most of the 2023-24 season, Keys’s musical “Hell’s Kitchen” looked like the show to beat: It was a popular Broadway transfer of a downtown hit anchored by a breakout lead performance (from newly minted Tony winner Maleah Joi Moon). But late in the season, “The Outsiders” began to turn the industry’s head, and as more and more Tony voters checked the box for the show, it became the underdog that just might come out on top. In the end, “The Outsiders” took the night’s biggest award — as well as trophies for lighting design, sound design and direction.

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