With 2022 Tony Award nominations officially announced, Playbill's staff of theatre experts is breaking down the list of nominees and drawing out some interesting trends and take-aways.
Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop leads the pack with 11 nominations, alongside fellow Best Musical nominees MJ and Paradise Square, which each received 10 nods. The most Tony-nominated play of the season is The Lehman Trilogy with 8 nods including Best Play. See the full list of nominees here.
Here are our take-aways from the 75th Annual Tony Award Nominations.
A Historic First for Trans Performers on Broadway
L Morgan Lee made Tony Awards history as the first openly Trans Tony nominated performer for her work in A Strange Loop. The nomination follows a 2019 nod for non-binary playwright and performer Taylor Mac for writing Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, but Lee's nomination is a first for Trans and non-binary performers.
Spreading the Love
Double nominations are no surprise when it comes to Broadway's highest honors, though they tend to be most frequent within the design categories, thanks in part to the relatively small group of artists who design productions on Broadway. But this year, Beowulf Boritt is the only double-nominated designer, for his scenic design of both POTUS and Flying Over Sunset (the latter along with projection designer 59 Productions). Additional double nominees were Camille A. Brown, nominated for both directing and choreographing for colored girls... (more on those nominations later); Billy Crystal, as both the star and co-writer of Mr. Saturday Night; Lynn Nottage, for Best Play for Clyde's and Best Book of a Musical for MJ; Christopher Wheeldon, for directing and choreographing MJ; Michael R. Jackson, for the book and score of A Strange Loop; Conor McPherson, for directing and writing the book of Girl From the North Country; and Lucy Moss, for co-directing and co-writing SIX The Musical. We love seeing multi-hyphenate artists recognized for the full scope of their work, and we love more designers receiving nods!
The Full Lehman Trio Is Nominated
While a Google search might suggest that Stefano Massini and Ben Power’s The Lehman Trilogy boasted a huge cast, in reality, the three actors who play the Lehman brothers carry the vast majority of the show’s nearly three-and-a-half hour run time. Every one of those actors—Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Adrian Lester—was rewarded for his efforts with a 2022 Tony nomination. Their three nominations made for a notably large category overall, with a total of seven nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play.
Broadway loves a big, star-led production, but in several cases this season, star power did not translate to Tony success. Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, led by heavy hitters Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, only received a single nomination—for Jane Greenwood's costume design. Notably missing from Macbeth's nominations was a nod for film star Daniel Craig, and Funny Girl fared similarly, with only supporting player, Jared Grimes, receiving a nomination in the Featured Actor category. The Debra Messing-led Birthday Candles was completely shut out with no nominations. But don't worry, stars; Nominees Billy Crystal, Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jesse Williams, Patti LuPone, and others have shown that the Tonys still like to send some love to big names on Broadway.
Only One Nomination for Tracy Letts’ The Minutes, But It’s a Big One
The Tony nominators gave only one nod to Tracy Letts’ new Broadway play, but interestingly, that single recognition came in the category of Best Play. While not unheard of, such a situation is somewhat peculiar because it suggests that nominators didn’t see much worthwhile in the play’s disparate pieces (performers, design, direction, etc.), but seem to have found the final product to have been more than the sum of its parts. While the award ultimately would go to both the play’s writer and its producers, it’s possible that nominators were aiming to single out Letts’ play itself rather than the production.
No Musical Shut Outs
Of the 34 productions eligible for this year's awards, five received no nominations—and notably, all of them were plays, meaning none of the 13 musicals were shut out. While some musicals did receive only a single nomination—namely Mrs. Doubtfire, Funny Girl, and Diana, The Musical—it seems that on the whole the nominating committee was pretty pleased with this season's musicals, with most receiving multiple nods.
Camille A. Brown Gets Her Second Nomination for Choreographing a Play
It’s fairly unusual for plays to receive nominations in the Best Choreography category, but nevertheless Camille A. Brown has managed to snag her second nomination for just that. Brown received the 2022 Best Choreography nomination, as well as a Best Direction nod, for Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf (which also makes her the first Black woman to receive a director-choreography nod). Brown received her first nomination for Best Choreography in 2019 for Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, also a play.