Tony Award host Ariana DeBose says viewers should expect a ‘full Broadway experience’

NEW YORK (AP) — Ariana DeBose promises Sunday’s Tony Awards will move “like a Broadway show.”

“This is Broadway’s biggest night. Why not give the people at home even more of a Broadway experience?” the Academy Award winner and Tony nominee told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Our show is going to move like a Broadway show. We want to give you a full Broadway experience.”

That means viewers will see transitions between scenes, with cast members coming on stage to help move items and sets changing in front of the audience. In the past, a wall came down between production numbers and awards, hiding the changes.

Does that mean we can see Jessica Lange — nominated for best leading actress in a play for her work on “Mother Play” — hauling furniture? “I’m not sure that Ms. Lange will be moving a table. I just really hope she ends up having a good time,” DeBose said, laughing.

The three-hour main telecast will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+, with a free pre-show — where some technical awards will be handed out — on Pluto TV.

DeBose is a producer this year and is choreographing her opening number with her creative partner, Julius Anthony Rubio.

“I did that on purpose because I wanted to try something new. I speak dance better than I speak English,” she said. “So I kind of figured, ‘Why not?’ I’m in my Debbie Allen era.”

DeBose saw every new Broadway show this season — all 36 — to prepare for the gig: “I feel like I have a responsibility to understand the season if I’m going to weigh in on the show that we are building.”

Other Tony hosts who have done it multiple times include Angela Lansbury, Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris and James Corden.

DeBose was praised for keeping last year’s show afloat without a script during the Hollywood writers strike, starting with an acrobatic opening number and a subsequent glitch-less three-hour telecast.

“I was very grateful that we were able to find a way forward. I think sometimes you just have to say, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do it, and it all works,’” she said.

DeBose says the recent addition of a streaming pre-show — hosted this year by Julianne Hough and Utkarsh Ambudkar — takes some of the pressure off her at the main event: “I’m very excited for them. I know they have a good time.”


Mark Kennedy is at


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