NEW YORK (AP) – “Moulin Rouge! The Musical, ”a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 film, won Best New Musical Crown at the Tony Awards on a Sunday night when Broadway looked back to honor shows closed by COVID-19, mourning its downfall and also looking forward to welcoming the public again.
The show about the events at a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like “Single Ladies” and “Firework” alongside the 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 prize with all the shows that have struggled in the last 18 months of shutdown.
“It seems a little strange to me to refer to a show as the best musical. I think every show from last season deserves to be considered the best musical, ”she said. “The shows that opened, the shows that closed so as not to come back, the shows that almost opened. And of course, the shows that stopped and got a chance to be reborn – the best musical is all of those shows. “
Matthew Lopez’s “The Inheritance” was named Best New Play and won three other awards, and Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play” won Best Replay and an Acting Award.
Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour epic uses “Howards End” as the starting point for a play that examines gay life in the early 21st century. It also reported victories 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 her late husband, playwright Terrence McNally. Lopez, the first Latin writer to win in the category, called for more plays to be produced by the Latin community. “We have so many stories within us that can’t wait to come out. Let us tell you our stories, ”he said.
The pandemic-delayed broadcast began with an energetic performance of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” by members of the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray!” Ali Stroker performed “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 in front of a masked and grateful audience in a crowded Winter Garden theater. Host Audra McDonald received a standing ovation when she took the stage. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York! she said.
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” won the award for stage design, costumes, lighting, sound design, orchestrations and a Tony Actor Featured for Broadway favorite Danny Burstein. Sonya Tayeh won the choreography award in his Broadway debut and Alex Timbers won the trophy for best director in a musical.
Unsurprisingly to anyone, Aaron Tveit won the award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for “Moulin Rouge!” Musical comedy. This is because he was the only person nominated in the category. He thanked a long list of people, including his parents, brother, agents, manager, cast and crew. “We are so privileged to be able to do this,” he said in tears. “Because what we do changes people’s lives. “
Burstein, who won for the star actor in a musical and had not won six times before, thanked the Broadway community for supporting him after the death last year of his wife, Rebecca Luker. “You were there for us whether you just sent a note or sent your love, sent your prayers – sent bagels – it meant the world to us, and that’s something I didn’t. ‘never forget. “
David Alan Grier won the Star Actor in a Play award for his role in “A Soldier’s Play,” which dissects entrenched black-white racism as well as internal divisions within the black military community during World War II . “To my other nominees: hard bananas, I won,” he said. On stage, director Kenny Leon recited the names of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, killed by police. “We will never, ever forget you.”
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”. Warren was considered the favorite by becoming a fireball of energy and euphoria. She dedicated the victory to three family members she lost while playing Turner – and thanked Turner herself.
Mary-Louise Parker won her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress, for playing a Yale professor who cherishes great literature but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with in “The Sound Inside “. She thanked her dog, whom she was walking in the rain when she ran into Mandy Greenfield of the Williamstown Theater Festival, who told her about the play.
Burnap made his Broadway debut in “The Inheritance”. He thanked his mother and the University of Rhode Island and joked that he felt grateful because “I got to play for seven hours.”
The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill”, which takes over Alanis Morissette’s groundbreaking 1995 album to tell the story of an American family gone out of control, came into the night with 15 Tony nominations. He walked away with victories for Best Book and Lauren Patten won the award for Best Starring Actress in a Musical.
“A Christmas Carol” with five technical prizes: scenography of a play, costumes, lighting, sound design and score. But no one from production was on hand to accept any of the prizes.
“Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’s groundbreaking and empowering work that blends race, sex, taboo desires and class, won a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history. But he didn’t win anything.
Sunday’s show went from its usual three hours to four, with McDonald’s distributing Tonys for the first two hours and Leslie Odom Jr. hosting a “Broadway’s Back!” celebration for the second half with performances of the three best musicals.
The live-action special also featured David Byrne and the cast of “American Utopia” performing “Burning Down the House” in front of a standing and cheering crowd. Byrne told them that they might not remember how to dance after so long, but that they were welcome to give it a try.
John Legend and the cast of “Ain’t Too Proud” performed “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and Josh Groban and Odom Jr. sang “Beautiful City” from “Godspell”, dedicating it to educators. And Ben Platt and Anika Noni Rose sang “Move On” from “Sunday in the Park with George”. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth got together for the song “Wicked” “For Good”.
Members of Broadway royalty – Norm Lewis, Kelli O’Hara and Brian Stokes Mitchell – mourned the list of those who died, which included icons like McNally, Harold Prince and Larry Kramer.
This season’s nominations were drawn from just 18 eligible plays and musicals from the 2019-20 season, a fraction of the 34 shows from the previous season. For most years there are 26 competitive categories. This year, there are 25 with several sold out.
The last Tony Awards were held in 2019. The virus forced Broadway theaters to abruptly close on March 12, 2020, eliminating all shows and shaking up the spring season. Several have rebooted, including the so-called big three of “Wicked”, “Hamilton” and “The Lion King”.
AP national writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.
Entertainment writer Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits.