If the past 73 years of Tony Awards ceremonies have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is a guarantee when it comes to predicting winners. After a year like no other, it’s no surprise that the 74th Annual Celebration saw several notable victories, some upheaval, and its own share of history-makers.
Read on to discover some of the highlights from this year’s awards show.
READ: Red Mill! Topping the list at the 74th Annual Tony Awards
A Tony at 90
Lois Smith may not have had much time on stage in Matthew Lopez’s two-part epic Heritage, but she certainly made the most of it, playing Margaret in the second half of Lopez’s tribute to EM Forster. End Howards. His monologue on the loss of a son to AIDS resonated with the audience, who felt as deep a connection with his character as with the other characters with whom he had already spent several hours. And Tony’s voters felt the same, awarding Smith his very first Tony, after nominations in 1990 and 1996 for, respectively, Grapes of Wrath and Buried child. The victory also reserves for the actor, who has always imbued his work with a heartbreaking humanity, a place in Tony’s record books. At 90, she is now the oldest actor to win the award, replacing the late Cicely Tyson, which won her Tony in 2013 at the age of 89 for playing Mrs. Carrie Watts (a role Smith had played Off-Broadway in 2005) at Horton Foote The journey to Bountiful.
Lucky number 7
It didn’t take as long at the Tony Awards as it did at the Emmys to finally recognize Susan Lucci, but Broadway favorite Danny Burstein broke his own awards history (most Tony nominations without landing the award) September 26. PM ET, he won Best Performance by an Actor in a Starring Role in a Tony musical for his performance as Harold Zidler in Red Mill! Musical comedy. It was a moment of light in a dark year for the actor, who wrote gracefully both about his near-fatal battle with COVID-19 and the devastating loss of his wife, the luminous Tony-nominated actress Rebecca Luker, at ALS. Burstein had been nominated six times, starting in 2006 for The sleepy chaperone, followed by South Pacific In 2008, Follies in 2012, Golden boy In 2013, Cabaret in 2014, and violin on the roof in 2016. But it was his performance as a seedy emcee – which welcomes Red Mill! audiences saying, “No matter how sinful you are, you’re welcome here” – that ultimately won Tony gold. Burstein has always been welcome to Broadway, and tonight he finally got the thanks he long deserved.
A Christmas Carol and Red Mill! Design scans
The visually stunning limited series of Charles Dickens’ Jack Thorne adaptation A Christmas Carol, which broke box office records at the Lyceum for three consecutive weeks during the 2019 holiday period, won all four categories of design awards. This was an unexpected sweep for the now closed production, given that eight different productions were represented among those four categories. The winners for their production designs directed by Matthew Warchus were lighting designer Hugh Vanstone, sound designer Simon Baker, and set and costume designer Rob Howell. Also note: due to the pandemic, none of the London-based designers were present at the Winter Garden. (For those who missed the Broadway race, A Christmas Carol will visit five US cities this holiday season with two simultaneous productions.) Red Mill! also pulled off the same balayage for her equally stunning designs. Winner for the Design of the Stage Adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s Film: Derek McLane for Best Stage Design, Catherine Zuber for Best Costume Design, Justin Townsend for Best Lighting Design and Peter Hylenski for Best Sound Design.
Best original score of a piece …
Yes, we knew at the awards ceremony that the five nominated scores were written for plays (as opposed to musicals), but it is still remarkable that the winner of the best original score (music and / or lyrics) written for the theater either Christopher Nightingale for Jack Thorne’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It was another of the night’s landmark wins, the first time the winner for Best Original Score did not come from a musical. Tony Nightingale winner previously shared an excerpt from his score and offered details of his inspiration here.
slave game Upset
The Broadway premiere of Jeremy O. Harris’s provocative drama slave game made history in October 2020 when it received 12 Tony nominations, the highest number ever in Tony Awards history. Despite the nominations and the fact that the critically acclaimed play had previously won Harris the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences and the Paula Vogel Award 2018, the Broadway production failed to win any Tony at the ceremony on September 26. slave game, which follows three couples as they navigate the intricacies of race, history, gender and sexuality in 21st century America, will have the chance to delight West Coast audiences in the setting of New season of Groupe Théâtre Center at the Mark Taper forum. In fact, the entire Broadway production creative team, including Tony-nominated director Robert O’Hara, will be reuniting for the engagement.
Charles More wins for A soldier’s game
This year’s Tony Award for Best Cover of a Play went to Charles Fuller for the Broadway premiere of A soldier’s game. Pursuant to a decision by the Tony Awards Administrative Committee announced in 2019, living writers of shows new to Broadway, but considered to be cover versions, are included in the nomination. (Mart Crowley won the 2019 revival of The boys of the group the first year the rule was instituted.) Upon accepting the award, Tony winner Kenny Leon, who received his third Tony nomination for directing the 1944 play, said: “No tell Shakespeare, no tell Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw. They’re all at the table. But the table has to be bigger. We need the late Melvin van Peebles sitting at the table. We need Ntozake [Shange] sitting at the table. We need our young people to learn more about all of our amazing writers on this land we are on tonight, this Native American land. So we have to hear all the stories. When we hear all the stories, we are better! The Negro Ensemble Company debuted A soldier’s game in November 1980. The play, which follows an officer’s race against his white leadership to elucidate the crime of murdering a black sergeant, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best off-Broadway play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. An Oscar nominated film adaptation, titled The story of a soldier, was released in 1984, and Fuller’s work is being adapted into a limited television series. David Alan Grier, who won this year’s Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Play, will star and produce the project.
Matthew Lopez becomes the first Latin playwright Tony-Winning
It was a great evening for exploring the gay history of Olivier Laureate Matthew Lopez, who won Tonys for the aforementioned Smith, actor Andrew Burnap, director Stephen Daldry, and top prize for Best play for Lopez, the first Latin playwright to win this. price. Loosely inspired by EM Forster End Howards, the two-part play is set in New York City a generation after the HIV / AIDS crisis of the ’80s and’ 90s as a group of gay men struggle to connect with the past and retain a sense of history. In his speech, Lopez recognized “three queer men” who paved the way for his success: Forster, Terrence McNally and Miguel Pinero, “the first Puerto Rican playwright to be produced on Broadway, who opened the door for me and who m ‘allowed the opportunity to become a writer. Lopez added: “This is the 74th Tony Awards, and yet I am only the first Latin writer to win in this category. I say this not to make you applaud but to underline the fact that the Latin community is under-represented in American theater, in New York Theater, and most notably on Broadway. We constitute 19 percent of the population of the United States, and we represent about two percent of playwrights who performed on Broadway during the last decade. That has to change. “