If there was one year that Michael R. Jackson’s queer-fronted musical A Strange Loop to win the Tony Award for Best Musical, this was the year.
After a raging pandemic, a racial reckoning, an insurrection, a new President and a whole lot of other hurdles in the past two years, the hyper-relevant and hyper meta musical about a queer Black write writing a musical about a queer Black writer scored the top prize of the night at the 75th Tony Awards.
“With A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson puts Black, queer stories center stage and GLAAD was beyond proud to be an investor to help bring this incredible and groundbreaking production to Broadway,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO, GLAAD. “A Strange Loop, Company, and Take Me Out showcase the outstanding work of multiple LGBTQ artists and tell important stories about the lives of LGBTQ people with depth, nuance, and humanity.”
Ellis added, ” These productions winning top honors at this year’s Tony Awards is a key reminder that our stories matter and deserve recognition. As a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills sweep the nation today, creating and awarding authentic and deeply affecting stories is more crucial than ever before.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop was nominated for 11 Tony Awards winning Best Musical as well as Best Book of a Musical. This is a major win for authentic representation in the Broadway space, which seems to be ahead of the film and TV industry when it comes to diverse storytelling. A Strange Loop is a story that centers the queer Black experience in the Broadway space which very well hits a chord when it comes to the creative process and navigating the world while being queer — specifically Black and queer.
It’s not to say that Broadway doesn’t have its issues when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In 2020, an open letter to “White American Theater” was published a was filled with truths that those who have worked in the theater industry have experienced. Those who signed the letter included Cynthia Erivo, Nicco Annan, Jennifer Hudson, Conrad Ricamora, Tanya Saracho, Jessica Hagedorn, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viola Davis, Sandra Oh, Uzo Aduba, Sterling K. Brown, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Danai Gurira, Andre Holland, Anika Noni Rose, Leslie Odom Jr., Katori Hall and many others.
That said, the 2022 Tony Awards hosted by West Side Story Oscar winner Ariana DeBose reflected the call to action for change. This year’s ceremony was one of the most diverse. In addition to A Strange Loop winning big, Toby Marlow the first nonbinary composer-lyricist won for a Tony for Six: The Musical alongside writer Lucy Moss for original score. In addition, Montana Levi Blanco won a Tony for costume design for The Skin of Our Teeth while the revival of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf was up for seven trophies. On top of all of this, Jennifer Hudson achieved EGOT status as producer of the aforementioned A Strange Loop.
Broadway is doing the work to create change. It may be baby steps, but maybe Hollywood could learn a thing or two from the world of stage plays and musicals.
Watch Michael R. Jackson perform “Memory Song” at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City: