While this past Sunday’s Tony Awards paid homage to some of the best LGBTQ content in some time (A Strange Loop deservedly won the award for ‘Best Musical’ among other accolades), it was the moment during the first hour of the telecast (shown on Paramount +) that paid homage to a true LGBTQ icon-with a little help from a legendary group of performers. Broadway icon and five time Tony-winner Angela Lansbury received a special lifetime achievement award, but was not on hand to accept the award in person. Lansbury’s tribute was introduced by actor Len Cariou, who starred in the title role opposite Lansbury’s Mrs. Lovett in the 1979 production of Sweeney Todd. He spoke fondly of Lansbury, saying “There is no one with whom I’d rather run a cutthroat business with”. Cariou went on to say “When we first met at the first rehearsal of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ I was very excited and admittedly a bit in awe of the most incredible credentials that she had” he recalled.
— NYC Gay Men's Chorus (@nycgmc) June 12, 2022
Follow Cariou’s heartfelt introduction, The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus took to the stage to pay tribute to Lansbury with a version of the title song from Mame, which Lansbury starred in and won a Tony Award for in 1966. The Chorus sang the theme song from the iconic musical production while shots of Lansbury throughout her storied career played behind them.
Lansbury’s absence Sunday night did cause a great deal of concern from many Tony-watchers, with Time Out New York theater critic Adam Feldman commenting “Angela Lansbury’s absence, even by video, is concerning. And perhaps helps explain why this wasn’t on the main broadcast”. As for Lansbury (who will turn 97 this October) she has never officially retired from acting, with her last major big-screen role being The Balloon Lady in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns. During a 2018 conversation with Larry King, King asked Lansbury “what keeps you going”? She simply responded that she is interested in “every part of life; not just acting”. When asked if she ever thought of retiring, the entertainment titan simply said “no, I don’t think so. I’ll probably pass away with one hand on my script”
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