At Tony Award nominations, there's no clear juggernaut but opportunity for female directors

The final list of almost 40 new plays and musicals vying for Tony Award nominations this year are ready and hoping for their closeups

Mark Kennedy
Tuesday 30 April 2024 05:06 BST

After a final, frantic push to open the last raft of Broadway shows before the eligibility window closed, the final list of almost 40 plays and musicals vying for Tony Award nominations this year are ready and hoping for their closeups.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Renée Elise Goldsberry will announce nominees for the 26 competitive Tony Awards on Tuesday morning, the result of voting by the 60 members of the nominating committee.

The spring barrage — 14 shows opened in an 11-day span this year — is not unusual these days as producers hope their work will be fresh in the mind of voters ahead of the Tony Awards ceremony on June 16. But no clear single musical juggernaut has emerged, like the megahit “Hamilton” in 2016 or a critical darling like last year's “Kimberly Akino.”

One possible change this year indicates women may be poised to outnumber the men for the first time in directing nominations. Nearly half of the 21 musicals — new and revivals — that opened this season were helmed by a woman or featured a team of co-directors where at least one was a woman. Five out of the season’s 16 new plays and play revivals were also staged by women.

The 2022 Tony Awards currently holds the record for most female directing nominees, with four total across the two races. Only 10 women have gone on to win the directing crown.

The eligible shows this season include reworking of existing movies or books — “The Outsiders,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Notebook,” “Back to the Future” and “Water for Elephants” — and new works transferring over to Broadway, like the suffrage play “Suffs,” the dance-heavy Sufjan Stevens-scored “Illinoise,” the rock band imploding “Stereophonic” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” loosely based on Alicia Keys’ life.

There are some coincidences, like that Huey Lewis & The News songs are heard at both his jukebox show “The Heart of Rock and Roll” and an unconnected musical of “Back to the Future.” Rachel McAdams, who made a breakthrough in the film version of “The Notebook,” is competing against the musical version of that movie a few blocks away in the play “Mary Jane.” Plus, “The Wiz” and “Wicked” now share Broadway, and Nazis are in both “Cabaret” and a musical about artist Tamara de Lempicka.

This season attracted plenty of big stars to Broadway in addition to McAdams, like Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons in “Mother Play,” Steve Carell in a revival of “Uncle Vanya,” Eddie Redmayne in a new “Cabaret,” Liev Schreiber in “Doubt,” “Succession” star Jeremy Strong in a revival of “An Enemy of the People” and Sarah Paulson in the play “Appropriate.”

There were some firsts this season, including “Here Lies Love” with Broadway's first all-Filipino cast, as well as mostly Filipino producers, including singer H.E.R., comedian Jo Koy and Black Eyed Peas’ And seven openly autistic actors starred in “How to Dance in Ohio,” a first for Broadway.

Big musical revival splashes were made by “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “The Wiz,” “The Who's Tommy,” Stephen Sondheim's “Merrily We Roll Along” and the fourth revival of “Cabaret.”

Academy Award winner and Tony Award-nominee Ariana DeBose, who hosted both the 2023 and 2022 ceremonies, will be back this year and will produce and choreograph the opening number.

This year’s location — the David H. Koch Theater — is the home of New York City Ballet and in the same sprawling building complex as Lincoln Square Theater, which houses the Broadway venue Beaumont Theater.

Like last year, the three-hour main telecast will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. EDT/5 p.m.-8 p.m. PDT with a pre-show on Pluto TV, and some Tony Awards handed out there.

This season's Broadway numbers — about $1.4 billion in grosses and 11.1 million tickets — is running slightly less than the 2022-23 season, off about 4% in grosses and down 1% in tickets.


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