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Tony Awards 2021: Moulin Rouge! Triumphs In A Broadway Celebration



Moulin Rouge!

Tony awards 2021: Moulin Rouge! triumphs in a Broadway celebration

Moulin Rouge! swept the board at the 2021 Tony awards, picking up 10 trophies during a ceremony that also acted as a celebration of the return of Broadway.

The adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 Oscar-winning musical, which reopened on 24 September, became the first Australian-produced show to win a Tony for best musical, beating Jagged Little Pill and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

Moulin Rouge!, which was nominated in 14 categories, also picked up the award for best actor in a musical (Aaron Tveit), as well as best scenery, costume, lighting, sound, choreography, orchestration and direction in a musical.

“It feels a little odd to me to be talking about one show as ‘best musical’,” producer Carmen Pavlovic said in her speech. “I feel that every show of last season deserves to be thought of as best musical.”

People walk past the Richard Rodgers theater where the musical ‘Hamilton’ is normally performed in the Broadway theater district near Times Square in New York, New York, USA, 30 July 2021. The owners and operators of the city’s theaters and performance venues announced on 30 July 2021 that when plays, musicals and other in-person shows restart next month, audience members will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear face masks. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

The awards come amid the official reopening of Broadway, after an unprecedented downtime as a result of the pandemic which also led to a cancellation of the 2020 ceremony.

Matthew Lopez’s Broadway transfer of his emotional seven-hour Aids drama The Inheritance was named best play, making him the first Latino writer to win this award, and Stephen Daldry won his third Tony as best director after winning the same award at the Oliviers in 2019. Daldry dedicated the win to the many men who lost their lives during the crisis. Star Andrew Burnap also beat out Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Hiddleston to win best leading actor in a play.

Mary-Louise Parker won best leading actress in a play for The Sound Inside, her second Tony award.

The Tonys, which have historically rewarded predominantly white actors and white creatives, reflecting an industry that has been overwhelmingly lacking in diversity, featured a slightly more diverse set of nominees than usual.

Adrienne Warren was named best leading actress in a musical for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and David Alan Grier won his first Tony for best actor in a featured role in a play for A Soldier’s Tale, which was also named best revival. Slave Play, which entered the night with 12 nominations, left the night empty-handed.

Co-host Audra Macdonald, who was also nominated for best leading actress in a play, spoke about recent changes in the industry which will lead to “more awareness, action and accountability”, which in turn will lead to more equity. In the 2017-8 season, 85.5% of directors, 61% of actors and nearly 80% of show writers were white, according to a report by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition. Groups and initiatives have been formed in the last year to push for more equality, and this season there are seven plays by Black writers – a record for Broadway.

There was also a special Tony handed to the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, a group dedicated to dismantling the systems that perpetuate racism through the power of storytelling. “Moving forward requires calling out,” said director Britton Smith in his speech. Later in the evening, BAC members Amber Iman and Adrienne Warren came on stage to speak about the importance of fighting back against “systems of oppression”, and the role that art has to play.

Lauren Patten won the Tony for best actress in a featured role in a musical for Alanis Morissette show Jagged Little Pill, playing a character that has recently been at the centre of controversy. Patten’s character was originally gender nonbinary in the Boston iteration, but was changed to female for Broadway. A growing backlash recently led to an apology from the producers.

In her speech, Patten said “we are in the middle of a reckoning”; she said she has engaged in conversations that were “full of honesty, empathy and a respect for our humanity”. Diablo Cody, who won the best original screenplay Oscar for Juno in 2008, also won for best book of a musical for Jagged Little Pill.

Other winners included 90-year-old Lois Smith for her role in The Inheritance, becoming the oldest performer to win an acting Tony; and Danny Burstein for his featured role in Moulin Rouge!, his first award after seven nominations. Technical awards were mostly won by A Christmas Carol and Moulin Rouge!

The truncated Broadway year – that saw theatres shuttered at the start of the pandemic – meant that only 18 plays and musicals were eligible compared with 34 in 2019. This led to the category for best leading actor in a musical only having one nominee and one winner: Aaron Tveit for Moulin Rouge!

Unlike other recent awards ceremonies, such as the Emmys, audience members were required to wear masks for the duration of the show, in line with theatre protocol in New York. They were also required to show proof of vaccination, and only two winners at a time were allowed on stage. The night saw a standing ovation for an in-audience Chuck Schumer for helping the return of live theatre.

Sunday night’s ceremony was split between Paramount+ and CBS, as yet another attempt to boost subscribers for the recently rebranded streaming platform. The majority of awards were handed out in a two-hour streaming special before a switch to the network for a performance-heavy final section, billed The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!, with just three trophies remaining.

The night included appearances from stars including Jennifer Holliday singing And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls, and David Byrne performing Burning Down the House from American Utopia, which also picked up a special award.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is expected to play on London’s West End from 12 November. Plans for its Australian premiere at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne are still unknown, but producers are hoping for a November opening.

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year



Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

The Grammys are adding a special song for social change award and five new categories including songwriter of the year, giving the Recording Academy an avenue to honor music’s best composer.

The academy announced Thursday that the new non-classical songwriter category will recognize one individual who was the “most prolific” non-performing and non-producing songwriter for a body of new work during an eligibility year. The category is taking a different approach than song of the year, which awards the songwriter or songwriters who wrote the lyrics or melodies to one song.

“This new category is truly for an expert person at the songwriting craft,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs in which they are credited “solely” as a songwriter or co-writer.

“Somebody who writes their own music and records it would not be eligible,” he said. “They would have to be doing songs for others. We want to highlight the craft of writing songs professionally for artists.”

“Songwriters are at the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no brainer. It’s in alignment with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more? Showcase more people and be more inclusive to different genres?’”

The new category is another huge step for songwriters. Last year, a rule update allowed that any songwriter, producer, engineer or featured artist on an album nominated for album of the year could ultimately earn a nomination.

The four other categories include best spoken word poetry album, alternative music performance, Americana music performance and score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media.

The academy created a special merit award that determines best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes “understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.”

“It’s always the right time to recognize music that’s changing the world,” he said. “I think it deserves a special recognition. These songs are important and impactful. We want to make sure we’re honoring and celebrating that artform. This is a great way to do that.”

Mason said it was yearlong process of accepting proposals to make changes, additions and updates from music creators and professionals that make up the membership body.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp




Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp

Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne got underway Thursday with a display of British military traditions stretching from the days of horse and cannon to the jet age.

Formal celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee began with Trooping the Color, an annual military review that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The queen is expected to join the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 aircraft are set to roar overhead.

The jubilee is being commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend. The celebration of Elizabeth’s reign includes a service of thanksgiving Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant staged by thousands of performers drawn from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, neighborhood organizations and individuals are expected to hold thousands of street parties around the country, repeating a tradition that began with the queen’s coronation in 1953.

The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne. The jubilee is giving many people — even those often indifferent to the monarchy — a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the huge changes that have taken place during her reign.

Former Prime Minister John Major — one of the 14 prime ministers of the queen’s reign — said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades,

“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.

In a written jubilee message, the queen thanked people in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion is the first opportunity for a big bash since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” she said.

Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of “very few constants” on the international stage.

“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron told the queen in an English-language video message.

The name of the long weekend’s first event, Trooping the Color, refers to a regimental flag, or “color,” that is trooped through the ranks. Britain’s annual tradition for the queen’s birthday is a ceremonial reenactment of the way battle flags were once shown to soldiers to make sure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in combat.

The troops taking part come from the army’s Household Division, composed of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and often deployed overseas when not on ceremonial duty.

Each year a different unit has the honor of trooping its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will have the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.

Thousands of people, some of whom camped overnight, lined the parade route — many of them sporting Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.

Carly Martin, who caught a late-night bus from south London with her daughter, said she had come “to make memories.”

“You’re never going to see this again in your lifetime,” she said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. … Seventy years — it is all I have ever known.”

Several protesters were arrested after getting past barriers and onto the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that royal land is reclaimed.”

Cheers and the clop of hooves rang out as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife, Kate, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away.

The queen is expected to appear twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but Prince Charles is playing play a key role during the event. Mounted on horseback, he will take the salute from ranks of scarlet-clad Guards on his mother’s behalf, along with his sister, Princess Anne, and his son Prince William.

Elizabeth has had trouble getting around of late, and her courtiers have been careful to keep make things as simple for her as possible.

Senior royals including Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, traveled in carriages to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join other royals to watch the spectacle. Harry and Meghan have traveled from their home in California to take part in the celebrations.

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Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal




Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday expressed happiness over the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke of Ekwulobia Diocese, Anambra State, as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.

In a statement signed late Wednesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari commended the Pope for finding a capable Nigerian in the person of Bishop Okpaleke to be one of the two nominees from the African continent.

The statement is titled ‘President Buhari welcomes appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as 4th cardinal from Nigeria.’

According to Shehu, President Buhari also “congratulated the Nigerian Christian Community on this choice, describing the Cardinal-designate as ably qualified, and that having him in that position will benefit the country.”

The statement partly read, “The President also commended the commitment of the Catholic Church to the unity, peace, and progress of the Nigerian state. He also highlighted the effort of the Church in combating the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its support and commitment in favour of the poor and most vulnerable members of the society.”

Bishop Okpaleke becomes the fourth Cardinal from Nigeria. Others before him are Francis Arinze, Anthony Okogie and John Onaiyekan. He is among the 21 new Cardinals Pope Francis announced on May 29.

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