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Highlights From The Tony Awards

Broadway performers at the Tony Awards on Sunday.
Mary Kouw
CBS via Getty Images
Broadway performers at the Tony Awards on Sunday.

Updated September 27, 2021 at 12:30 PM ET

Broadway's biggest stars paired lavish gowns with face masks for an extravagant and pandemic-altered Tony Awards.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards went on ahead Sunday after a more than 15 month delay. Moulin Rouge! The Musical took home 10 awards, including the night's biggest: Best musical. The Inheritance won for best play, and A Soldier's Play for best revival.

NPR's Jeff Lunden briefed Morning Edition's A Martínez on the night. You can listen to their full conversation here and read the highlights below.

The big winner of the night was Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge swept much of the musical awards. The show is a stage adaption of Baz Luhrmann's grandiose 2001 film about love, deception and pop songs (the stage musical features more than 70 of them) set in a turn-of-the-century Paris nightclub.

Here's the production performing at the Tonys.

It's been a busy month for the show. It reopened on Broadway Sep. 24 after more than 18 months paused due to the pandemic. In early September the musical partnered with luxury brand The Blonds for a dramatic show at New York Fashion Week.

It's a weird year. The nominees reflect that.

As Jeff Lunden notes, the pandemic really molded this year's awards. When Broadway shut down in March 2020, it left the eligible pool of shows at almost half of what it usually is.

Those quirks meant all of the nominated best plays have closed and most haven't announced plans to reopen (Slave Play announced its plans to return just after midnight Monday morning). Many of the shows up for wins were last seen over two years ago on stage.

Aaron Tveit from Moulin Rouge won for best actor in a musical — and it would have been pretty odd if he didn't, since he was the only person nominated in that category.

Interestingly, none of the three shows nominated for Best Musical this year feature an original score — Jagged Little Pill strings together Alanis Morissette's songs, and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical uses the singer's music.

2020's influence was visible — and not just the pandemic

Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, among other theater greats, led a performance honoring those the community has lost since the last Tony Awards in 2019.

Acceptance speeches reflected on the pandemic's toll and highlighted the continued effort for Broadway to diversify and fully welcome all.

Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play, an exploration of interracial relationships, was up for 12 awards but ultimately didn't win any. What won best play instead was The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, which spins together source material Howards End's Edwardian England into a contemporary look at gay men and the AIDS crisis. Lopez noted he was the first Latino to win.

A Soldier's Play director Kenny Leon named Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in his acceptance speech for best revival of a play, saying they wouldn't be forgotten.

"No diss to Shakespeare, no diss to Ibsen, to Chekhov, to Shaw — they're all at the table. But the table's got to be bigger," Leon said.

The award show signaled that across Broadway, theatre marquees are being relit after an almost 18 month hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

NPR followed three veteran Broadway artists as they navigated their shows reopening— and as one made her own way after her show closed permanently due to COVID-19. Listen here.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nell Clark
Nell Clark is an editor at Morning Edition and a writer for NPR's Live Blog. She pitches stories, edits interviews and reports breaking news. She started in radio at campus station WVFS at Florida State University, then covered climate change and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael for WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla. She joined NPR in 2019 as an intern at Weekend All Things Considered. She is proud to be a member of NPR's Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support Team, a network of staff trained to support colleagues dealing with trauma at work. Before NPR, she worked as a counselor at a sailing summer camp and as a researcher in a deep-sea genetics lab.