It was a “spectacular spectacular” night for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which was the biggest winner at the 74th Annual Tony Awards, taking home ten awards from its 14 nominations including Best Musical.

Moulin Rouge! on Broadway

The Broadway cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo © Matthew Murphy

Moulin Rouge! is the first Australian-produced musical to originate on Broadway. Produced by Global Creatures, it opened on Broadway in July 2019 and received glowing reviews, with audiences flocking. On 12 March, the producers made the decision to cancel the matinee after a cast member reported feeling unwell. Later that day Andrew Cuomo, the then New York governor, announced that all Broadway shows would close due to COVID.

After the longest shutdown in the history of Broadway, Moulin Rouge! returned to the stage last Friday, with Australian performer Natalie Mendoza stepping into the role of the sparkling courtesan Satine. It joins other productions which have reopened their doors to vaccinated audiences wearing masks, including Hamilton and Wicked.

Due to the global pandemic, the 74th Tony Awards were delayed more than a year and honour productions that happened between 26 April 2019 and 19 February 2020.

In the musical categories Moulin Rouge! The Musical was up against Tina  – The Tina Turner Musical and the Alanis Morrisette musical Jagged Little Pill. Moulin Rouge! took home Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Alex Timbers), Best Choreography (Sonya Tayeh), Best Orchestrations (Justin Levine with Matt Stine, Katie Kresek and Charlie Rosen), Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Aaron Tveit), Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Danny Burstein), Best Scenic Design in a Musical (Derek McLane), Best Costume Design in a Musical (Catherine Zuber), Best Lighting Design in a Musical (Justin Townsend) and Best Sound Design of a Musical (Peter Hylenski).

Jagged Little Pill picked up two Tony Awards from 15 nominations – Best Book of a Musical (Diablo Cody) and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Lauren Patten). Tina – The Tina Turner Musical took home one award – Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Adrienne Warren) from 12 nominations.

The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez won Best Play, while Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play picked up Best Revival of a Play.

Accepting the award for Best Musical, Carmen Pavlovic, the CEO and co-owner of Global Creatures, said as part of her speech, “It’s such an honour and a thrill to be able to bring fellow Aussies Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin’s epic and beloved [film] masterpiece to the stage. On behalf of Bill Damaschke, Gerry Ryan and myself, it’s such an honour to be here. We love our Moulin Rouge! company, we love our show, and we love talking about it. But on an historic night such as this, it feels a little odd to me to be talking about one show as Best Musical. I feel that every show of last season deserves to be thought of as the Best Musical – the shows that opened, the shows that closed, not to return, the shows that nearly opened and of course the shows that paused and are fortunate enough to be reborn. Best Musical is all those shows; ‘best’ is what we’ve had to find in ourselves as we’ve walked this unimaginable journey and carried our shows across the desert. ‘Best’ is what we know we need to become as we reimagine the Broadway of the future.”

The Australian production of Moulin Rouge! was scheduled to begin previews at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre on 13 August and open on 4 September, but the season has had to be delayed due to COVID restrictions. Producers hope it will open in November. Productions of the show are set to open in London’s West End in November 2021 and Tokyo in 2023.

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