Moulin Rouge! The Musical, a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie, won the best new musical crown at the Tony Awards in New York.
On Sunday Broadway looked back to honour shows shuttered by Covid-19, mourn its fallen and also look forward to welcoming audiences again.
The show about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like Single Ladies and Firework alongside the big hit Lady Marmalade, won 10 Tonys. The record is 12, won by The Producers.
Producer Carmen Pavlovic struck a philosophical note in her acceptance speech, sharing the award with all the shows that struggled in the past 18-month shutdown.
“It feels a little odd to me to be talking about one show as best musical. I feel that every show of last season deserves to be thought of as the best musical,” she said.
“The shows that opened, the shows that closed not to return, the shows that nearly opened. And of course, the shows that paused and are fortunate enough to be reborn – best musical is all of those shows.”
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez was named the best new play and won three other awards, and Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play won best play revival and an acting award.
Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour epic uses Howards End as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
It also yielded wins for Andrew Burnap as best actor in a play, Stephen Daldry as best director, and Lois Smith as best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play.
Thomas Kirdahy, a producer, dedicated the award to his late husband, the playwright Terrence McNally.
Lopez, the first Latin writer to win in the category, urged more plays to be produced from the Latin community. “We have so many stories inside us aching to come out. Let us tell you our stories,” he said.
The pandemic-delayed telecast kicked off with an energetic performance of You Can’t Stop The Beat from original Broadway cast members of Hairspray and Ali Stroker sang What I Did For Love from A Chorus Line.
Jennifer Holliday also took the stage to deliver an unforgettable rendition of And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going from the musical Dreamgirls.
The singers performed for a masked and appreciative audience at a packed Winter Garden Theatre.
Host Audra McDonald got a standing ovation when she took the stage. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City,” she said.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical won for scenic design, costume, lighting, sound design, orchestrations and a featured acting Tony for Broadway favourite Danny Burstein.
Sonya Tayeh won for choreography in her Broadway debut, and Alex Timbers won the trophy for best direction of a musical.
In a surprise to no-one, Aaron Tveit won the award for best leading actor in a musical for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, because he was the only person nominated in the category.
He thanked a long list of people, including his parents, brother, agents, manager and the cast and crew. “We are so privileged to get to do this,” he said, welling up. “Because what we do changes peoples’ lives.”
David Alan Grier won featured actor in a play for his role in A Soldier’s Play, which dissects entrenched racism as well as internal divisions in the black military community during the Second World War.
Adrienne Warren won the Tony for best leading actress in a musical for her electric turn as Tina Turner in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.
Mary-Louise Parker won her second best lead actress Tony Award, winning for playing a Yale professor who treasures great literature but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with in The Sound Inside.
The sobering musical Jagged Little Pill, which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiralling out of control, came into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations.
It left with wins for best book, and Lauren Patten won the award for best featured actress in a musical.
A Christmas Carol cleaned up with five technical awards: scenic design of a play, costumes, lighting, sound design and score. But no-one from the production was on hand to accept any of the awards.
This season’s nominations were pulled from just 18 eligible plays and musicals from the 2019-2020 season, a fraction of the 34 shows the previous season. During most years, there are 26 competitive categories. This year there are 25 with several depleted ones.