Tony Awards tap Philly native Leslie Odom Jr. to host alongside Audra McDonald

The long-delayed Tony Awards have landed two impressive master of ceremonies — Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald.

Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald

Leslie Odom Jr. presents an award at the 72nd annual Tony Awards in New York on June 10, 2018, left, and Audra McDonald presents an award at the 73rd annual Tony Awards in New York on June 9, 2019. (AP Photo)

The long-delayed Tony Awards have landed two impressive master of ceremonies: Tony- and Grammy-winning singer and actor Leslie Odom Jr. will host a splashy TV special, and the awards will be hosted by Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning actor and singer Audra McDonald.

Producers of the telecast announced Monday that Odom will host the two-hour celebration of Broadway’s return on Sept. 26 from 9 p.m.-11p.m. ET/PT, and McDonald will host the award ceremony from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET/PT

The four-hour event will be broadcast live from Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. Capping the evening will be the awarding of the three top awards: best play, best play revival and best musical.

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Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, 2020, knocking out all shows — including 16 that were still scheduled to open in the spring. The four-hour awards and special are an attempt to celebrate live theater and serve as a splashy advertisement that Broadway is inching back to normalcy.

“While we look back, my greatest hope is that this event marks the beginning of a new era for Broadway — one with renewed commitment to inclusivity and belonging as well as appreciation for the sacred experience of live theater,” McDonald said in a statement.

This season’s nominations were pulled from just 18 eligible plays and musicals, a fraction of the 34 shows the season before. During most years, there are 26 competitive categories. This year there are 25 with several depleted ones.

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Not everyone is happy with the way CBS is handling the awards this year. The bulk of the Tonys — the acting, directing and technical ones — will only be accessible to Paramount+ customers — with Odom’s special then airing on CBS.

Odom broke through as the Tony-winning Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” but McDonald is a nominee this time. She’s hoping to break her own record for the most Tony Awards won by a performer for her work in a revival of the Terrence McNally play “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.”

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