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Editor’s Notes: Tony Nominations, Finally!!!


Tony Nominations



By Jeanne Lieberman

History: The Tonys, founded in 1947 and formally called the Antoinette Perry Awards, are presented by the American Theater Wing and the Broadway League. The awards honor plays and musicals that are staged in the 41 Broadway theaters, each of which has at least 500 seats, and most of which are around Times Square.

Nine months after the March shut down of the 2020 theater season (the longest in theater history) and months after their sister awards the Drama Desk were virtually presented June 9th, and Outer Critics Circle awards announced its honorees May 11th, the Tonys have finally delivered their nominations after a long gestation period with no hints at when the actual awards will be decided.


I can imagine this is no easy task to corral the 800 plus notoriously lazy Tony Awards voters each of whom must have seen (and remembered) the 3 or 4 shows in each category and will have to research reviews,  photos, summaries and videos (if luckily available) of each show along with performance and production credits to effectively vote in the following categories of each nominated show.


This is a lot of homework for this group of voters who must be goaded and sometimes strong armed by press agents into seeing shows other than the ones with which they are associated.

Membership is all industry related so that each member is connected to a show and in the best of times disinterested in productions other than their own when it comes to voting.

It seems doubly hard to get them to vote altogether at this time

other than to gain an honor for their shows which cannot even benefit from a box office bump when shows are shut down, thus questioning the commercial value of winning an award in this theater shut down environment.


Best Play

“Grand Horizons” by “Bess Wohl”
“The Inheritance” by Matthew López
“Sea Wall/A Life” by Simon Stephens & Nick Payne
“Slave Play” by Jeremy O. Harris
“The Sound Inside” by Adam Rapp

Best Musical

“Jagged Little Pill”
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
“Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Revival of a Play

“Betrayal” by Harold Pinter
“Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” by Terrence McNally
“A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller

Best Book of a Musical

“Jagged Little Pill” (Diablo Cody)
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” (John Logan)
“Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” (Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins)

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

“A Christmas Carol” (Christopher Nightingale)
“The Inheritance” (Paul Englishby)
“The Rose Tattoo” (Fitz Patton and Jason Michael Webb)
“Slave Play” (Lindsay Jones)
“The Sound Inside” (Daniel Kluger)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Ian Barford, “Linda Vista”
Andrew Burnap, “The Inheritance”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Sea Wall/A Life”
Tom Hiddleston, “Betrayal”
Tom Sturridge, “Sea Wall/A Life”
Blair Underwood, “A Soldier’s Play”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Joaquina Kalukango, “Slave Play”
Laura Linney, “My Name is Lucy Barton”
Audra McDonald, “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune”
Mary-Louise Parker, “The Sound Inside”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Aaron Tveit, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Ato Blankson-Wood, “Slave Play”
James Cusati-Moyer, “Slave Play”
David Alan Grier, “A Soldier’s Play”
John Benjamin Hickey, “The Inheritance”
Paul Hilton, “The Inheritanc

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a PlayJane Alexander, “Grand Horizons”
Chalia La Tour, “Slave Play”
Annie McNamara, “Slave Play”
Lois Smith, “The Inheritance”
Cora Vander Broek, “Linda Vista”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Derek Klena, “Jagged Little Pill”
Sean Allan Krill, “Jagged Little Pill”
Sahr Ngaujah, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Daniel J. Watts, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Kathryn Gallagher, “Jagged Little Pill”
Celia Rose Gooding, “Jagged Little Pill”
Robyn Hurder, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Lauren Patten, “Jagged Little Pill”
Myra Lucretia Taylor, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Bob Crowley, “The Inheritance”
Soutra Gilmour, “Betrayal”
Rob Howell, “A Christmas Carol”
Derek McLane, “A Soldier’s Play”
Clint Ramos, “Slave Play”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Riccardo Hernández and Lucy Mackinnon, “Jagged Little Pill”
Derek McLane, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Mark Thompson and Jeff Sugg, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, “Slave Play”
Dede Ayite, “A Soldier’s Play”
Bob Crowley, “The Inheritance”
Rob Howell, “A Christmas Carol”
Clint Ramos, “The Rose Tattoo”

Best Direction of a Play

David Cromer, “The Sound Inside”
Stephen Daldry, “The Inheritance”
Kenny Leon, “A Soldier’s Play”
Jamie Lloyd, “Betrayal”
Robert O’Hara, “Slave Play”

Best Direction of a Musical

Phyllida Lloyd, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”
Diane Paulus, “Jagged Little Pill”
Alex Timbers, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Best Choreography

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, “Jagged Little Pill”
Sonya Tayeh, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Anthony Van Laast, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Orchestrations

Tom Kitt, “Jagged Little Pill”
Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine and Justin Levine, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Ethan Popp, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Emily Rebholz, “Jagged Little Pill”
Mark Thompson, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”
Catherine Zuber, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Jiyoun Chang, “Slave Play”
Jon Clark, “The Inheritance”
Heather Gilbert, “The Sound Inside”
Allen Lee Hughes, “A Soldier’s Play”
Hugh Vanstone, “A Christmas Carol”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Bruno Poet, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”
Justin Townsend, “Jagged Little Pill”
Justin Townsend, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Best Sound Design of a Play

Paul Arditti & Christopher Reid, “The Inheritance”
Simon Baker, “A Christmas Carol”
Lindsay Jones, “Slave Play”
Daniel Kluger, “Sea Wall/A Life”
Daniel Kluger, “The Sound Inside”

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Jonathan Deans, “Jagged Little Pill”
Peter Hylenski, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Nevin Steinberg, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”

That said, this is an extremely truncated season with only 18 of perhaps 36 planned shows eligible.

The early cutoff for nominated productions — Feb. 19 rather than the end of April produced some unique problems:

 the award for best musical revival had to be eliminated; no musical revivals had opened as of the Feb. 19 cutoff. (Not coincidentally, the revival of “West Side Story” opened on Feb. 20.)


“Moulin Rouge,” adapted from director Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 cinematic extravaganza, is in the running with only two other entries for best musical: “Jagged Little Pill,” based on the music of Alanis Morissette, and “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” 



Another anomaly in the 74th awards: Because none of these shows feature music written expressly for the stage, the five productions vying for best score are — for the first time ever — all plays


The best actor in a leading role, a category that had only two possible nominees: Aaron Tveit in “Moulin Rouge” and Chris McCarrell in “The Lightning Thief”? An obscure rule, now forever to be known as the Tveit Exception, all but handed him the award without the pretense of a competition


Because three of the four new musicals were ineligible jukebox shows, and the fourth was, once again, “The Lightning Thief,” the nominators chose to acknowledge music written for plays, including “Slave Play,” “The Inheritance” and “The Sound Inside.” Though all very effective, they are hardly in the level of “Carousel” and “Hamilton,” coming off as a feeble gerrymander.



The favorites:

Adrienne Warren, the odds-on favorite for best actress in a musical, for her electrifying turn in “Tina”; Mary-Louise Parker, for her tour-de-force work in “The Sound Inside”; Sahr Ngaujah, the Toulouse-Lautrec of “Moulin Rouge”; and Lauren Patten, whose dynamite delivery of “You Oughta Know” is the standout moment of “Jagged Little Pill.”



The lead acting categories for plays feature some of the more competitive contests: Laura Linney for Rona Munro’s monodrama, “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” vying with Parker, “Slave Play’s” Joaquina Kalukango, and the oft-nominated Audra McDonald for “Frankie and Johnny.”


The scrum for best actor in a play is the most crowded, with six contenders: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge for “Sea Wall/A Life”; Tom Hiddleston for “Betrayal”; Blair Underwood in “A Soldier’s Play”; Andrew Burnap for “The Inheritance”; and Ian Barford, who in Tracy Letts’s “Linda Vista” offered one of the season’s less heralded but most acutely sculpted turns.


The earliest possible date they will resume is June 1, 2021 — by a long-shot the lengthiest hiatus in Broadway history. 

Still, the Tonys will go ahead, honoring a truncated season as many of the planned spring shows — “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Six” and “Plaza Suite,” among them — have not opened yet, and some — “West Side Story,” “Girl From The North Country” — opened too late. only a few shows that are in the running have plans to return.


The 74th Annual Tony Awards will air on a to-be-announced date on CBS. They have indicated that the ceremony will be virtual, rather than in person, hoping to hold the ceremony in December or January And they expect it to be streamed online, not broadcast on television.

Of course, for lovers of Broadway, even an under-trafficked red carpet in Times Square would represent a welcome mat. With the 2020-2021 Broadway season a washout, we will, it seems, have to wait to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Tonys until 2022.


Coming Up……………….