Tony Awards 2024: Big winners Stereophonic and Merrily We Roll Along are Jewish

Daniel Radcliffe and Jeremy Strong were the other lead winners in the 77th awards ceremony


Daniel Radcliffe at the 2024 Tony Awards (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Stereophonic, the most nominated play in the history of the Tony Awards, won five gongs including best play at the 77th ceremony in New York on Sunday.

American playwright David Adjmi’s Broadway-debut, about an unnamed 70s band reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, received a record 13 Tony Award nominations. The drama’s five awards included best director for London-born Daniel Aukin and best scenic design of a play for David Zinn.

Adjmi, who is from a Syrian Jewish family in Brooklyn, told the ceremony that it took him 11 years to get Stereophonic onto the stage. “It’s really hard to make a career in the arts, we need to fund the arts in America,” he said.

Having previously written about his identity as Jewish and gay, the playwright had told online publication The Forward that he chose something different for Stereophonic, which was originally intended as a one-act play.

An acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll won four awards, including best performance in a musical for Daniel Radcliffe. It was the first Tony win – and nomination – for Radcliffe who plays lyricist Charley Kringas.

“My mum and dad are here somewhere – happy Father’s Day, dad, I love you both so much,” Radcliffe said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you for playing Sondheim in the car and just, you know, loving me…and my love Erin – you and our son are the best thing that has ever happened to me.” In April 2023, the actor welcomed his first child with girlfriend Erin Darke.

Shaina Taub won best score and book of a musical for Suffs, while Amy Herzog’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People, directed by her husband Sam Gold, picked up the best lead actor award for Jeremy Strong, the Emmy-winning star of Succession.

Comedian and writer Alex Edelman received a Special Tony Award – which is presented to outstanding productions, artists and organisations that do not fit into the categories – for his solo standup show Just For Us. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Boston, Edelman made his Broadway debut last year with the one-man show which centres on a gathering of neo-Nazis that he attended covertly in New York, after he received antisemitic abuse from them online.

“My show, beyond being about neo-Nazis and antisemitism and Christmas, grapples with the question which is ‘what is our place in the world?’ and it feels like when I go to see shows on Broadway they’re all asking that question...” the comedian said in his acceptance speech. “But the idea at Just for Us’s core is about empathy, it’s about people sitting in a room who disagree with each other in ways that are fundamental and profound, and trying to understand something about ourselves and others. And given what’s happening in the word right now, particularly in Israel and Palestine, given how every day it feels that the differences between us and those that we disagree with are more and more fundamental, it is all the more necessary to find ways to do that.”

Edelman became the first American since 1997 to win the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer in 2014 for his debut show Millennial. His brother AJ Edelman is an Olympic bobsled athlete representing Israel.

He told the JC last year that Just For Us, which is currently streaming on HBO MAX, is not about antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is so big, you can’t possibly get your arms around anything other than a corner of it,” he said. “The show is about one Jew’s identity when he is so far removed from his natural habitat that he can see its hard edges.”

However, he did say that the topic has “become more fashionable” since he started writing the show in 2018.

He said: “You know, to me antisemitism is like the weather. Do I feel like I’ve gotten something good out of it? It is just a song that never stops playing.”

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