Last night symbolized the official reopening of Broadway as the iconic Winter Garden Theatre housed the 74th Annual Tony Awards.
Often described as Broadway’s prom night, this year meant so much more. Broadway had been dark for nearly 18 months, the longest shutdown that theater history has ever seen. For 18 long months, we didn’t see so much as a single light go off in a theater, not a vocal to be heard or a playbill to be opened. The shutdown not only took a toll on theater lovers worldwide but put so many people out of work, out of the love of their passion. But last night, as so many seasoned and celebrated Broadway actors stood on the Winter Garden stage, one thing was clear. Broadway is back, and better than ever.
Outside of the show, we spoke to some of the incredibly well-deserving winners of the awards. After being away from their characters and shows for so long, getting back into the groove and being honored with a Tony on top of it had to feel next to euphoric.
The most popular show of the night shaped up to be Moulin Rouge, taking home a whopping 10 awards, including Best Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, and Best Featured Actor in a musical. Aaron Tveit won for his performance as Christian in the show, which was adapted from Baz Lurmann’s 2001 film of the same name. There was not a dry eye in the room as he accepted his award, especially not from Tveit himself. “We are so privileged to get to do this,” He said in his acceptance speech. “To be on Broadway, to have a life in the theater. Let’s continue to strive to tell the stories that represent the many and not the few, by the many and not the few, for the many and not the few. Because what we do changes people’s lives. It changes people’s minds. It changes people’s hearts. We can change the world with this. Let’s not forget that. This means more to me than I can ever say.”
This life, this love of the art that Tveit talks about is filled with emotion that radiated throughout the whole room. Back in the press room, he was asked about how he was feeling at the time, with so many emotions flowing. “This means so much to me.” He said. “Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve always wanted to be an actor and have a life in the theater. To be a part of this theater community and that’s really what I view this as. It’s an acknowledgment of a moment in time but also I’d like to think of it as how I’ve been doing this for a little bit and I just feel a part of this community in a very new way.”
It’s an acknowledgement of a moment in time” -Aaron Tveit, Best Actor in a Musical Winner
Following the successful night for the Moulin Rouge family, Tveit’s co-star Danny Burstein was honored with the award of Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role of Harold Zidler. Burstein took the time of his speech to thank the crowd for the support in the year he’s had, losing his beloved wife Rebecca Lurker to ALS. “I want to thank all of you,” Burstein said. “Because, whether you know it or not, my wife passed away in December of ALS, and you all showed up for us. 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 it’s something I’ll never forget. And I love being an actor on Broadway. Thank you.”
Danny came back to our virtual pressroom to talk about Moulin Rouge, and his win “This is my 18th Broadway show” he started, “And I’ve never been apart of anything like this before. I can tell you, two nights ago we reopened and we rose the roof on the Al Hirshfeld Theatre.”
Director Alex Timbers was up next in the Moulin Rouge Winning streak, taking home the award for Best Director of a musical. “We wanted it to be as immersive as possible,” Timber’s said, speaking at the virtual pressroom in response to a question about his collaboration with Baz Luhrmann to create the Broadway adaptation of his 2001 film. “And that brought about the idea of setting the whole show in the club and starting and ending the show there. The other thing we wanted to do was take advantage of the last 20 years of popular music, so that was the real jumping-off point.” Timbers creative process led to greatness, as seen in the many awards his show carried home last night
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical captured the heart of everyone who loved her, and it only makes sense for Adrienne Warren to be awarded for her show-stopping performance as Tina Turner. Warren took home the award for Best Actress in a leading role in a musical, her performance radiating within the hearts of everyone lucky enough to witness it. “What would I say to my younger self?” She asked, speaking at the virtual press room. “I think I would say that it’s okay to slow down. I think I would say that it’s okay to take care of yourself and that it’s okay to say no sometimes. To everyone who watched the Tonys tonight who looks like me, or who I was them at some point, I would say to you all, be storytellers. Not because Broadway is the last and final destination, But be a storyteller because the world, because somebody out there is waiting to hear your story. Your story, exactly the way that you are.”
Hear more about all of the 2021 Tony Award winners here!