2021 Tony Awards: Broadway is Back – and Worth The Wait

The 74th annual Tony Awards were held at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theater on September 26th to coincide with the reopening of Broadway. Broadway fans have been *waiting* for this day for AGES. A day that officially marks that Broadway is back, and it’s not going anywhere.

Now that we’ve had a night to revel in the return of Broadway, let’s recap the feel-good moments from the long-awaited 74th Tony Awards.

2021 Tony Awards Winners: David Alan Grier Finally Gets A Tony!

Veteran television and stage actor David Alan Grier won his first Tony Award for his supporting role as Sgt. Vernon C. Waters in A Soldier’s Play. The production was nominated for 7 awards and also won Best Revival of A Play.

Upon taking the stage to receive his award, David immediately called out 2021 Tony Awards host and living Broadway legend Audra McDonald, declaring, “Audra! I finally won one of these too!” (Audra McDonald currently has 6 Tony Awards and was nominated for a 7th for Best Leading Actress In A Play, which she lost to Mary-Louise Parker).

David Alan Grier has been acting professionally for over four decades and was nominated for his 3rd Tony. He dedicated his award to the late Douglas Turner Ward, the co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company and the original director of A Soldier’s Play that first premiered Off-Broadway in 1981, starring Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. Douglas Turner Ward passed away in February of this year at the age of 90.

“This man’s passion, his commitment, every word he uttered was teaching and the science of theater,” David Alan Grier declared with tears in his eyes. “I’m so proud.”

Last week, it was announced that a television adaptation of A Soldier’s Play is currently being developed into a limited series in which David Alan Grier will star and executive produce.

David cheekily concluded his acceptance speech by saying, “And to the other nominees? Tough bananas, I won!”

2021 Tony Awards Winners: Adrienne Warren Stuns As Tina Turner

Triple-threat performer Adrienne Warren took home her first Tony Award for Best Actress in A Musical. Adrienne masterfully portrays the titular role of Tina Turner in Tina, the dazzling jukebox musical based on the life and musical works of the Queen of Rock & Roll.

“I really look forward to the day that the bodies and souls and spirits of those that are involved in these shows that we’re celebrating can be invited and join the celebration with us because those bodies, those souls, those spirits, they are what makes Broadway,” Adrienne says in her acceptance speech.

“The second we start making this business and creating the business and working through the business through the lens of humanity and honoring those bodies and those souls and those spirits, the more the art will be transformative, the more the art will change lives, the more the art will change this world because the world has been screaming for us to change,” Adrienne continues to say.

CHILLS.

Tina returns to Broadway on October 8, with Adrienne Warren starring in the title role for a limited engagement. She originated the role of Tina Turner in the West End production of Tina in 2018 and continued in the starring role when the show opened on Broadway in October of 2019. This is Adrienne Warren’s second Tony nomination, following her 2016 nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Shuffle Along… 

Following her limited run in Tina next month, Adrienne Warren will be starring in the upcoming ABC series Women of the Movement as Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. The show premieres on January 1, 2022.

2021 Tony Awards Winners: Aaron Tveit Cut to the Core of Broadway

When it came to awards for musicals, Moulin Rouge! undeniably swept the competition, earning 10 Tonys including Best Musical, Best Director Of A Musical (Alex Timbers), Best Choreography (Sonya Tayeh), Best Scenic Design Of A Musical (Derek McLane), and Best Costume Design Of A Musical (Catherine Zuber).

This landslide victory has officially cemented Moulin Rouge! In our unofficial “Broadway Show Inspired By Hollywood Movie” hall of fame.

However, the 2021 Tony Awards also made history this year for having only one nominee in the category of Leading Actor In A Musical. Although the actor still had to win 60% of approval from Tony voters, it wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone when Aaron Tveit took home the award for Moulin Rouge. And whether we were expecting it or not, his speech made us a bit weepy and very emotional.

Through tears, Aaron Tveit says:

“We are so privileged to get to do this. To be on Broadway…Let’s continue to strive to tell the stories that represent the many and not the few, by the many and not the few, and 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.”

Aaron Tveit originated the role of Christian in Moulin Rouge prior to its debut on Broadway. His co-star, Karen Olivo, was also nominated for a Tony Award but lost to Adrienne Warren in the category of Leading Actress In A Musical. His other co-star, Danny Burstein, won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor In A Musical for his role as Harold Zidler. This was Aaron Tveit’s first Tony nomination and first win, despite starring in 5 Broadway musicals since 2006.

Moulin Rouge is back on Broadway as of its grand reopening in September at the Al Hirshfeld Theater. We have a feeling that after the show’s Tony success, it’s going to be darn near impossible to get tickets in the coming months, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying!

2021 Tony Awards Performances: Jennifer Holliday Killed Us Dead 

Our biggest standout moment from the 2021 Tony Awards was Jennifer Holliday’s absolute knockout performance from Dreamgirls, where she sang the beloved belter’s ballad, “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going).”

Jennifer Holliday’s performance commemorated the 40th anniversary of Dreamgirls’ premiere on Broadway, back in 1981. In fact, Jennifer’s performance in the Original Broadway Cast of the musical earned her a Tony Award in 1982 (she performed the same song for the Tony Awards that year, too!).

Her commemorative performance yielded a mass standing ovation from the audience at the Winter Garden theater and had everyone who watched her uttering the words “Timeless!” and “Incredible!” over and over! (We have a feeling it wasn’t just us.)

HOLY MOLY, IT WAS INCREDIBLE!

Here’s what The New York Times’ chief theater critic Jesse Green had to say about Jennifer Holliday’s standout solo:

“But no one else did what Holliday did when she planted herself center stage and let rip with ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.’ It’s not just that she sings her signature song like no one ever sang anything. It’s that the singing is secondary, merely the outward expression of something much larger within her. Musical theater at its best delivers the human soul, in joy or agony or confidence or shame, to an audience willing to receive it; it’s a communion. For a few minutes, 40 years after she first bowled us over, she did it again, in joy, agony, confidence and shame. “

We fully endorse Jesse Green’s glowing appraisal of Jennifer’s performance. 40 years from now, we hope to see her once again on center stage, belting her face off as she knocks our socks off.

We’re already counting down the days to next year’s Tony Awards and hedging our bets about which new shows will be nominated. In the meantime, we’re making plans to head back to Broadway to get wrapped up in the magic of a live show once again.

We bid you “so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, and good night!”

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