Tony Awards: Full list of winners, backstage moments from Broadway's biggest night

·8 min read

After 18 months away from the theater, no person returned to Broadway unchanged.

So it's fitting that "Moulin Rouge!," the Tony Awards' big winner Sunday night, is hitting audiences a little differently now, too. The musical took home 10 awards out of 14 nominations.

"Now, the heart and the story is even more resonant ... at its heart the show is about a group of people who are trying to make theater and are fighting for their home and are coming together against really extreme odds," said producer Bill Damaschke.

"We had that in our own company. We had something that we loved, and we were so excited about where we were, and then it was all taken away from us. Every word means something new. Every line has new meaning and depth to it. For the company, it's been a real experience of re-exploring the material."

The show's leading man Aaron Tveit took home a Tony for best performance by a leading actor in a musical in an unexpected way, being the sole nominee in the category.

Tony Awards 2021: Everything you need to know about the 2021 Tony Awards and Broadway special

Aaron Tveit in "Moulin Rouge! The Musical."
Aaron Tveit in "Moulin Rouge! The Musical."

However, "until it happened, I wasn't going to count any chickens," he said. Tveit did not automatically win, instead needing to garner at least 60% support of the returned Tony ballots, which he did.

While "Moulin Rouge!" was celebrated for its wins, "Slave Play" drew attention and anger online for being shut out of wins. The production was the most recognized with nominations for a play, 12.

Social media lit up with a firestorm of posts pointing to the shutout as evidence that an industry that is amid a reckoning on social and racial justice still has a long way to go.

A year like no other: In the strangest of years, 9 things to watch for at the 2021 Tonys

"The Inheritance" took home Best Play honors, making Matthew Lopez the first Latino playwright to win.

The evening also celebrated the return of Broadway in a big way, presenting a concert in its final two hours that included duets from some of theater's most cherished names. Leslie Odom Jr., who hosted the final portion of the night, sang "You Matter to Me" from "Waitress" with wife Nicolette Robinson, followed by duets by "Wicked" stars Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell reunited with a "Ragtime" classic, "Rent" stars Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp came together again, and more.

The evening's "In Memorium" section also was particularly poignant, with those lost to COVID-19 peppered among enough names to fill the Winter Garden Theatre's curtain at the end of a compilation of songs that included interludes of "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Try to Remember," Stokes' "The Impossible Dream" and "Somewhere" from Kelli O'Hara and Norm Lewis.

More: As Broadway reopens, activists worry that diversity 'still feels like an afterthought'

Tony Night tidbits

  • The legendary Chita Rivera, a presenter for the awards, opened the original Broadway production of "West Side Story" on Sept. 26, 1957, at the Winter Garden Theatre – 64 years ago Sunday, on the same stage.

  • Not shying away from the controversy over equity, racism, inclusion and so much more that has engulfed Broadway, host and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald says "Broadway is back, and it must - it will - be better."

  • Finally a winner: After being nominated for "Fiddler on the Roof," "Cabaret," "Golden Boy," "Follies," "South Pacific," and "The Drowsy Chaperone," Danny Burstein took home a Tony Award for his work in "Moulin Rouge!"

  • Continuing the trend of mentioning head-on issues surrounding the industry, "Jagged Little Pill's" Lauren Patten acknowledged harm of castmates amid the show's reckonings regarding the trans and nonbinary communities while accepting the award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

  • Creating period looks that allowed maximum movement was a challenge in an over-the-top show like "Moulin Rouge!" says Catherine Zuber, Tony winner for Best Costume Design of a Musical. She highlighted the importance of working with her collaborators.

  • "I pile a lot on," said Sonya Tayeh, winner for best choreography for "Moulin Rouge! The Musical." The show "begs for that type of excess." But in the process of paring down, making sure she was holding true to the story was key, she said. "It's such a spectacle, there's so much you could put in it, we want to make sure what's put forth is clarity in the story and that's been the balance of pulling back and editing. There are so many amazing moments where the dance is telling the story, so I have to make sure that that's really, really clear."

  • The show was referred multiple times throughout the broadcast as the "74th Tony Awards" rather than "74th annual." With the wonky timeline, is it gone for good?

'A new normal': Broadway casts, crews prepare for return to the stage after COVID shutdown

2021 Tony Award winners

Here are the nominees for the American Theatre Wing's 74th Tony Awards:

Best Play:

Winner: "The Inheritance" by Matthew López

Also nominated: "Grand Horizons" by Bess Wohl; "Sea Wall/A Life," by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne; "Slave Play" by Jeremy O. Harris; "The Sound Inside" by Adam Rapp

Best Musical:

Winner: "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: "Jagged Little Pill"; "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

The cast of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" on Broadway.
The cast of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" on Broadway.

Best Revival of a Play:

Winner: "A Soldier's Play"

Also nominated: "Betrayal"; "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune"

Audra McDonald arrives at the 74th annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in New York.
Audra McDonald arrives at the 74th annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in New York.

Best Book of a Musical:

Winner: "Jagged Little Pill," Diablo Cody

Also nominated: "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," John Logan; "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical," Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre:

Winner: "A Christmas Carol," music by Christopher Nightingale

Also nominated: "The Inheritance," music by Paul Englishby; "The Rose Tattoo," music by Fitz Patton and Jason Michael Webb; "Slave Play," music by Lindsay Jones; "The Sound Inside," music by Daniel Kluger

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:

Winner: Andrew Burnap, "The Inheritance";

Also nominated: Ian Barford, "Linda Vista"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Sea Wall/A Life"; Tom Hiddleston, "Betrayal"; Tom Sturridge, "Sea Wall/A Life"; Blair Underwood, "A Soldier's Play"

Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:

Winner: Mary-Louise Parker, "The Sound Inside"

Also nominated: Joaquina Kalukango, "Slave Play"; Laura Linney, "My Name is Lucy Barton"; Audra McDonald, "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune";

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:

Winner: Aaron Tveit, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:

Winner: Adrienne Warren, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Also nominated: Karen Olivo, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"; Elizabeth Stanley, "Jagged Little Pill"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:

Winner: David Alan Grier, "A Soldier's Play"

Also nominated: Ato Blankson-Wood, "Slave Play"; James Cusati-Moyer, "Slave Play"; John Benjamin Hickey, "The Inheritance"; Paul Hilton, "The Inheritance"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:

Winner: Lois Smith, "The Inheritance"

Also nominated: Jane Alexander, "Grand Horizons"; Chalia La Tour, "Slave Play"; Annie McNamara, "Slave Play"; Cora Vander Broek, "Linda Vista"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:

Winner: Danny Burstein, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical";

Also nominated: Derek Klena, "Jagged Little Pill"; Sean Allan Krill, "Jagged Little Pill"; Sahr Ngaujah, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"; Daniel J. Watts, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Danny Burstein accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for "Moulin Rouge! The Musical."
Danny Burstein accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for "Moulin Rouge! The Musical."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:

Winner: Lauren Patten, "Jagged Little Pill"

Also nominated: Kathryn Gallagher, "Jagged Little Pill"; Celia Rose Gooding, "Jagged Little Pill"; Robyn Hurder, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"; Myra Lucretia Taylor, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Best Scenic Design of a Play:

Winner: Rob Howell, "A Christmas Carol"

Also nominated: Bob Crowley, "The Inheritance"; Soutra Gilmour, "Betrayal"; Derek McLane, "A Soldier's Play"; Clint Ramos, "Slave Play"

Best Scenic Design of a Musical:

Winner: Derek McLane, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Riccardo Hernández and Lucy Mackinnon, "Jagged Little Pill"; Mark Thompson and Jeff Sugg, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Best Costume Design of a Play:

Winner: Rob Howell, "A Christmas Carol"

Also nominated: Dede Ayite, "Slave Play"; Dede Ayite, "A Soldier's Play"; Bob Crowley, "The Inheritance"; Clint Ramos, "The Rose Tattoo"

Best Costume Design of a Musical:

Winner: Catherine Zuber, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Emily Rebholz, "Jagged Little Pill"; Mark Thompson, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical";

Best Lighting Design of a Play:

Winner: Hugh Vanstone, "A Christmas Carol"

Also nominated: Jiyoun Chang, "Slave Play"; Jon Clark, "The Inheritance"; Heather Gilbert, "The Sound Inside"; Allen Lee Hughes, "A Soldier's Play";

Best Lighting Design of a Musical:

Winner: Justin Townsend, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Bruno Poet, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"; Justin Townsend, "Jagged Little Pill"

Best Sound Design of a Play:

Winner: Simon Baker, "A Christmas Carol"

Also nominated: Paul Arditti & Christopher Reid, "The Inheritance"; Lindsay Jones, "Slave Play"; Daniel Kluger, "Sea Wall/A Life"; Daniel Kluger, "The Sound Inside"

Best Sound Design of a Musical:

Winner: Peter Hylenski, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Jonathan Deans, "Jagged Little Pill"; Nevin Steinberg, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Best Direction of a Play:

Winner: Stephen Daldry, "The Inheritance";

Also nominated: David Cromer, "The Sound Inside"; Kenny Leon, "A Soldier's Play"; Jamie Lloyd, "Betrayal"; Robert O'Hara, "Slave Play"

Best Direction of a Musical:

Winner: Alex Timbers, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Phyllida Lloyd, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"; Diane Paulus, "Jagged Little Pill"

Best Choreography:

Winner: Sonya Tayeh, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

Also nominated: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, "Jagged Little Pill": Anthony Van Laast, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"

Best Orchestrations:

Winner: Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine and Justin Levine, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical";

Also nominated: Tom Kitt, "Jagged Little Pill"; Ethan Popp, "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical."

Ilana Keller is an award-winning journalist and lifelong New Jersey resident who loves Broadway and really bad puns. She highlights arts advocacy and education, theater fundraisers and more through her column, "Sightlines." Reach out on Twitter: @ilanakeller; ikeller@gannettnj.com

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Tony Awards 2021: See the full list of winners, best backstage moments

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