There were stumbles, heartbreak, elation and plenty of cancellations, but Broadway made it through its first full post-shutdown season and on Monday announced the Tony Award nominations to prove it.
Michael R. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, "A Strange Loop," about a gay Black man struggling to write an original musical, came out on top with 11 nominations, including best musical, book, original score, performance by an actor in a leading role and direction of a musical.
"The Lehman Trilogy," about the epic rise and fall of one of the country's largest financial institutions, led the pack for plays, with eight nominations including best play. The revival of a musical category is led by "Company," which scored nine nominations and is the first gender-reversed version of the show to be licensed by Stephen Sondheim.
The nominations were unveiled Monday morning by actors Adrienne Warren and Joshua Henry on the Tony Awards YouTube page. The 75th ceremony, to be hosted by Ariana DeBose on June 12 at Radio City Music Hall, will mark a return to the traditional style of the awards ceremony after two years of loss for the beloved Broadway tradition. The 2020 awards were indefinitely postponed in the wake of the March 2020 shutdown, and the ceremony for the abridged 2019-20 season took place last September in an odd format that didn't center the awards but rather relied on a return-to-Broadway celebration.
Joining "A Strange Loop" in the best musical category are "Girl From the North Country," which features the music of Bob Dylan and limns the lives of wanderers in Depression-era Minnesota; the Michael Jackson jukebox musical, "MJ"; the Billy Crystal comedy vehicle "Mr. Saturday Night," about a TV star who gets a shot at a show 40 years after his heyday; "Paradise Square," about the lives of Black and Irish immigrants in a Lower Manhattan neighborhood in 1863; and "Six: The Musical," a pop-driven story about the wives of Henry VIII.
"A Strange Loop," which has received much critical praise, is the show to beat. Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote in his review that the musical has liberated Broadway: "I sat with my mouth agape, astonished and grateful that something so brutally honest and rigorously constructed had finally broken through to a Broadway stage."
In addition to "The Lehman Trilogy," the best play nominees are "Clyde's," by Lynn Nottage, about a group of formerly incarcerated workers at a truck-stop cafe; Martin McDonagh's "Hangmen," about a former hangman who works in a pub in England in 1965, a year after death by hanging was outlawed; "The Minutes," a comedic mystery by Tracy Letts that takes place during a city council meeting for the small town of Big Cherry; and Dominique Morisseau's "Skeleton Crew," about the struggles of Detroit auto workers during the 2008 Great Recession.
The other nominees for musical revival are "Caroline, or Change" and "The Music Man."
Contending for the revival of a play Tony are "American Buffalo," "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf," "How I Learned to Drive," "Take Me Out" and "Trouble in Mind."
Notable actors who received nominations include Patti LuPone, Uzo Aduba, Phylicia Rashad, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Dratch, Ruth Negga, Billy Crystal, Sam Rockwell and Mary Louise-Parker. Husband-and-wife team Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick did not make the cut for their work in "Plaza Suite," which nabbed one nomination, for costume design.
Click here for the full list of nominations.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.