By Alex Budzynski, Editor-in-Chief
Thundering applause for bedazzling performances returned Sunday night at the 74th Tony Awards ceremony, honoring Broadway shows that opened pre-pandemic and celebrating the return of live theatre.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical won the coveted best musical crown and went home with a total of 10 awards. The show is a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film about a Parisian love triangle. Best play was awarded to Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, a seven-hour, two-part drama that looks at life two generations of gay men in New York City.
The producer of Moulin Rouge! Carmen Pavlovic, expressed gratitude for the recognition as well as sorrow for the havoc Broadway has endured.
“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.”
Sunday’s ceremony was the first Tony Awards in 27 months, marking a monumental turning point in Broadway’s recent uncertainty. A vaccinated and masked audience of Broadway legends congregated at the Winter Garden Theatre tasked with an additional, unprecedented mission of luring audiences back to the theater.
Host Audra McDonald was greeted with a standing ovation.
“You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City!” she said. “Broadway is back, and it must, and it will, be better.”
The program was initially streamed on Paramount+ followed by a live television event on CBS hosted by Leslie Odom Jr.
The ceremony also witnessed an abnormal number of nominees, with a staggering three musicals in the mix: Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Jagged Little Pill and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. This previous Tony Awards pulled from 34 shows, almost double that were in consideration this year. Aaron Tivet was the only nominee (and subsequent recipient) in the category for best performance by a leading actor in a musical.
The so-called big three on Broadway — Wicked, Hamilton and The Lion King — recently made their post-shutdown debut, with several other shows expected to return in the coming months.