‘Moulin Rogue,’ ‘The Inheritance’ are Tony’s big winners

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It is official: Broadway performer Danny Burstein is a Tony Award winner. Burstein achieved the honor after receiving a “Best Featured Actor” trophy for his work on the Great White Way in the jukebox musical, Moulin Rogue! Before his win on Sunday, Burstein had received seven Tony Award nominations for his work in such shows as The Drowsy Chaperone, South Pacific, Follies, Golden Boy, Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof.

Speaking of Moulin Rogue!, it won “Best Musical” honors Sunday night during the 74th annual Tony Awards ceremony. The event recognized the best of Broadway from the 2019-20 season. It is one that the pandemic cut short. Specifically, theaters went dark on March 12, 2020 due to the pandemic, and remained shut for roughly 18 months. However, as theaters are opening back up for live, in-person performances, the 2019-20 season received its time in the limelight during Sunday’s ceremony.

While Moulin Rouge! won “Best Musical” honors, the award for “Best Play” went to The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez.

Actually, Moulin Rouge! won 10 Tony Awards, including for “Best Musical.” The show is a stage adaptation of director Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical film. In it, a young Englishman in 1899 Paris becomes infatuated with Satine, a singer at the Moulin Rouge cabaret. However, the establishment’s manager promised Satine to a Duke, in return for funding his next production. Satine’s wedding day draws closer. However, she hides a fatal secret from Christian and the Duke.

The stage adaptation captured nine awards during the Tony Awards ceremony’s first half, during which the majority of the awards were presented. During the ceremony’s second half, a “Broadway’s Back!” concert, Moulin Rouge! picked up its 10th award for “Best Musical.” In the show, Burstein plays Harold Zidler, the Moulin Rouge’s owner. The fictional Harold Zidler likely exists to parody Charles Zidler, the first owner of the real Moulin Rouge.

In his 2019 review of the musical, now-retired New York Times Chief Theater Critic Ben Brantley opined that the show “has the febrile energy you may associate with the wilder parties of your youth, when gaudy nights seemed to stretch into infinity.”

Also, Brantley wrote that Burstein plays Zidler with “rouged cheeks, suspicious eyes, and an all-embracing leer.”

Meanwhile, the inspiration for the “Best Play” winner, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, was the novel Howards End by E.M. Forster.  The play premiered in London at the Young Vic in March 2018, before transferring to Broadway in November 2019. Across the pond, in London, The Inheritance won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play.” The Oliviers is the West End equivalent of Broadway’s Tonys.

In The Inheritance, which takes place in contemporary Manhattan, Eric and Toby are 30-somethings who seem to be very much in love and thriving. But on the cusp of their engagement, they meet an older man haunted by the past, and a younger man hungry for a future. “Chance meetings lead to surprising choices as the lives of three generations interlink and collide – with explosive results,” reads a summary on the show’s website, theinheritanceplay.com.

In addition to “Best Play,” The Inheritance won awards for director Stephen Daldry and performers Andrew Burnap as well as Lois Smith. At age 90, Smith is the oldest performer to win a Tony.

The Inheritance is not your typical 90-minute to two-and-a-half-hour show. Rather, it comprises two parts and is seven hours long.

“The play is both wonderfully funny and exquisitely poignant, but its real achievement is the deft hand with which it connects multiple generations of gay men, underscoring the importance of sharing stories and keeping the past alive,” critic David Rooney wrote on hollywoodreporter.com.

While The Inheritance captured “Best Play” honors, it was not the play with the most wins during Sunday’s ceremony. That show was A Christmas Carol. This stage adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic achieved a full sweep of the four design categories. In addition, A Christmas Carol won “Best Original Score.”

Surprisingly, Slave Play which last year received a history-making 12 nominations, did not win a single award.  The highly controversial Slave Play takes the form of a psychology experiment. In it, therapists task three interracial couples with role-playing white-black, master-slave relationships as a way to make sense of how their racial identities factor into their sex and personal lives. During the play’s first half, playwright Jeremy O. Harris leads us to believe that the play actually takes place during the Civil War-era in the American South. Later, we learn that the play’s setting is actually the present. And the couples are part of a therapy group in service of two graduate students’ thesis project. By the way, Slave Play  will once again play on Broadway from  from Nov. 23 through Jan. 23. Then, the play will move to the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.

You can stream the full, two-part Tony Awards ceremony by going to https://www.paramountplus.com/shows/tony_awards/?cbsclick=xsrVs22zrxyIRI-1X0XSAUFUUkBVMxyNTwOMSo0&vndid=255301&clickid=255301&sharedid=&ftag=PPM-09-10aag1f&dclid=CImmneq0o_MCFUZ6wQodLOgPVA.

Below is a full list of winners.

Best Musical
Moulin Rouge!

Best Play
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez

Best Revival of a Play
A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Mary-Louise Parker, The Sound Inside

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Aaron Tveit, Moulin Rouge!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Andrew Burnap, The Inheritance

Best Direction of a Musical
Alex Timbers, Moulin Rouge!

Best Direction of a Play
Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance

Best Choreography
Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!

Best Orchestrations
Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine, and Justin Levine, Moulin Rouge!

Best Book of a Musical
Jagged Little Pill, Diablo Cody

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Carol, Christopher Nightingale

Best Sound Design of a Play
Simon Baker, A Christmas Carol

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Hugh Vanstone, A Christmas Carol

Best Costume Design of a Play
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Lois Smith, The Inheritance

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Moulin Rouge!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play

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