Ariana DeBose kicks off Tony Awards with incredible Broadway medley filled with queer energy

Ariana DeBose wears a white hat, white outfit and silver sequinned top as she sings on stage during the 2022 Tony Awards

Queer icon Ariana DeBose kicked off the Tony Awards with an absolute banger mashup performance of songs from Broadway’s biggest shows. 

The West Side Story star performed a rousing musical number to open the 2022 Tony Awards on Sunday (12 June) night.

Ariana DeBose, who was also the host of this year’s awards, paid tribute to musical theatre classics including CabaretPippinThe WizThe Sound of MusicRentA Chorus Line and Hamilton all while wearing a gorgeous sequinned white outfit.

The high-energy opening number saw DeBose absolutely dominate the stage with her stellar vocal talents as she thanked all those involved in working in theatre in a special song. 

“And so tonight, for you I want to start by singing…” she sang. 

“To every team, every cast, in present , future and past, tonight at last, this is a round of applause/For the last 75 years, you kept it alive here, cheers! High five/’Cause you know the show would never go on if we didn’t all come together as one.”

Towards the end of her performance, a video montage of past Tony Award winners flashed across the screen including Hadestown’s Andre De Shields and A Chorus Line director Michael Bennett.

Ariana DeBose also honoured the unsung heroes who have kept the theatre industry going in her opening monologue, paying tribute to the understudies, standbys and swings who’ve kept Broadway alive. 

She also shone a spotlight on how changes in Broadway have heralded the end of the “great white way”, and she said the theatre world is now “more reflective of the community who adores it”.

“It has shown us stories that have broadened our world and opened our hearts and minds,” she said. “While we have not solved all of our problems, I feel like the phrase ‘great white way’ is becoming more of a nickname than a ‘how to’ guide.”

DeBose also listed the 2022 Tony Award nominees, including the diverse talent and LGBTQ+ performers, that are changing the face of the industry. 

“This season featured new shows written by seven Black playwrights. Yeah! It brought us a gender-flipped production of Company,” she declared. 

Ariana DeBose wears a white hat, white outfit and silver sequinned top as she performs on stage during the 2022 Tony Awards. She is surrounded by backup dancers wearing black

Ariana DeBose honoured the amazing talent that is changing the face of Broadway during her opening Tony Awards monologue. (Theo Wargo/Getty for Tony Awards Productions)

She continued: “And tonight, Lynn Nottage is the only playwright ever to be nominated for both best play and best book of a musical in the same season.

“Yes. L Morgan Lee is the first openly transgender performer to be nominated for a Tony, and she won’t be the last. 

“Scenic designer Adam Rigg is the first out-gender nominee. Composer Toby Marlow is the first non-binary winner. Wow. 

“And last but certainly not least, both Lena Horne and James Earl Jones are having theatres renamed for them.”

A Strange Loop, which was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, took home the prize for Best Musical of the 2021-2022 Broadway season and the Best Book of a Musical award. 

The gender-swapped Company won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical. Matt Doyle and Broadway legend Patti LuPone were awarded Tonys for their outstanding performances in Company