Tonys shows how an award show should be done
It wasn’t just a great night for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” or “The Inheritance.”
Winners at Sunday’s Tonys included viewers, who got an awards show full of passion and heart. It was better than this year’s Oscars and much better than the Emmys.
Talk about energy! The show at Winter Garden Theatre in New York City was a powerful celebration of Broadway’s reemergence after its long, unprecedented closure during the pandemic.
The show opened with a reunion of “Hairspray” actors Kerry Butler, Chester Gregory, Darlene Love, Matthew Morrison and Marissa Jaret Winokur belting out “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
The high energy continued, from the awards show that streamed live on Paramount+ to the performances on the special “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” which followed immediately from the same venue on CBS (and continues to stream on Paramount+). The second program started with a song and dance on Broadway — literally, outside on the street known as Broadway. It featured Leslie Odom Jr., the host of “Broadway’s Back!”
The awards show and its follow-up special (which included singers such as John Legend) were executed with precision, like a well-produced play or musical. The serious parts were concise and to the point without being preachy. The funny parts consisted of intelligent humor. No dumb jokes.
The musical performances were enticing. It was great to see David Byrne of Talking Heads fame on stage with other musicians belting out “Burning Down the House.” Mr. Byrne, who brought “David Byrne’s American Utopia” to Broadway, also was on stage to accept a special Tony.
“It was a risk,” Mr. Byrne said about producing the Broadway musical inspired by the 2020 concert film of the same name. “It proved to be a good risk.”
Viewers of this year’s Tonys also got to enjoy an orchestra, albeit a small one, on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre. In fact, the “Broadway’s Back!” special featured an overture by the orchestra of Broadway classics, seen from the perspective of audience members in the far rear of the theater.
You felt like you were there.
And the theater’s audience was a large crowd, who were vaccinated and wearing masks.
“It’s wonderful to see all your faces — at least, half your faces,” host Audra McDonald told the crowd.
She was a class act. The talented vocalist and six-time Tony winner, who’s also known for her starring role in Paramount+’s “The Good Fight,” couldn’t have been more gracious and enthusiastic. She helped to shine the spotlight on the talented performers, the famous and not-so-famous.
Other great moments came during the performances.
Jennifer Holliday got everyone’s attention with her enthusiastic rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” She won a Tony in 1982 for her portrayal of Effie White in “Dreamgirls,” and the audience loved seeing the original Dreamgirl back at it. She received a standing ovation.
During the awards show, “The Inheritance” picked up several trophies including Best Play. The play is about the gay culture in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, and in accepting the Tony for best direction in a play, director Stephen Daldry reminded viewers that AIDS remains “the other pandemic.”
Here are the other winners.
The Tony for best direction of a musical went to Alex Timbers for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” which also was named Best Musical. It received eight other Tonys.
The Tony for the leading actress in a musical went to Adrienne Warren, “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.”
The Tony for leading actor in a musical was awarded to Aaron Tveit, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
The Tony for leading actress in a Play went to Mary-Louise Parker, “The Sound Inside.”
The Tony for leading actor in a play went to Andrew Burnap, “The Inheritance.”
The Tony for featured actress in a musical went to Lauren Patten, “Jagged Little Pill,” inspired by the music of Alanis Morissette.
The Tony for featured actor in a musical went to Danny Burstein, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
The Tony for featured actress in a play went to Lois Smith, “The Inheritance.” The play marked Ms. Smith’s return to Broadway after 20 years, and her acceptance speech was short but poignant.
The Tony for featured Actor in a play went to David Alan Grier, “A Soldier’s Play.”
Best original score went to Christopher Nightingale, “A Christmas Carol.”
Best book of a musical: Diablo Cody, “Jagged Little Pill.”
Best scenic design in a play: Rob Howell, “A Christmas Carol.”
Best scenic design in a musical: Derek McLane, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
Best costume design in a play: Rob Howell, “A Christmas Carol.”
Best costume design in a musical: Catherine Zuber, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Best lighting design in a play: Hugh Vanstone, “A Christmas Carol”
Best lighting design in a musical: Justin Townsend, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
Best sound design of a play: Simon Baker, “A Christmas Carol.”
Best sound design of a musical: Peter Hylenski, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
Best choreography: Sonya Tayeh, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
Best orchestrations: Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine and Justin Levine, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”