Jagged Little Pill, a musical about teenage and parental angst based on Alanis Morissette’s bestselling 1995 album, was nominated for 15 Tony awards, the most of any show last season. Moulin Rouge!, a lavish musical about a star-crossed romance undone by fatal illness, received 14 nominations.
Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play got 12 nominations, a record for a play. The other play nominees are Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons, Matthew López’s The Inheritance, Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside and Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall/A Life. The play revival nominees are A Soldier’s Story, Betrayal and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
The nominations reflect a bizarre and abbreviated season, which ended before roughly half of the scheduled plays and musicals could open because of the coronavirus pandemic. They exclude two musicals that opened but didn’t have time to invite all Tony voters, which is required for eligibility. No musical revivals were eligible for nominations.
For the first time, a play will win for best original score. As all the major musicals that opened were jukebox shows, with songs culled from existing catalogs, all the nominees for score are incidental music from plays. They are A Christmas Carol (Christopher Nightingale), The Inheritance (Paul Englishby) , The Rose Tattoo (Fitz Patton and Jason Michael Webb), Slave Play (Lindsay Jones) and The Sound Inside (Daniel Kluger).
Aaron Tveit of Moulin Rouge! was the sole nominee for best actor in a musical. To win, he needs 60 percent of the votes cast, according to the Tony Awards rules.
The date of the 74th annual Tonys hasn’t been announced. The ceremony was postponed from June and is expected to be held virtually. Actor James Monroe Iglehart announced the nominations today on YouTube, and spoke briefly about his own career and lifelong love of theater.
“Theater has always and will always survive,” he said, a week after the Broadway League cancelled the 2020-21 season outright.
Jagged Little Pill — which cost roughly $14 million and is about a prosperous Connecticut family battling anxiety, addiction and trauma — was nominated for Diablo Cody’s book, Diane Paulus’ direction, lead actress Elizabeth Stanley, featured actors Derek Klena and Sean Allan Krill and featured actresses Kathryn Gallagher, Celia Rose Gooding and Lauren Patten.
Reviewing its Broadway opening in December 2019, Jesse Green in The New York Times called it a powerful summation of “our world’s worst ills but also the way song can summon resistance to them.” Other reviewers, while fond of the anthemic score, found the show unfocused and occasionally silly.
Its top rival for best musical appears to be Moulin Rouge!, which was capitalized at roughly $28 million and is set in a nightclub in fin-de-siècle Paris. Based on Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie, it was nominated for Alex Timbers’ direction, Sonya Tayeh’s choreography, lead actress Karen Olivo and featured actor Danny Burstein. It’s the seventh nomination for Burstein, who chronicled his real-life battles with Covid-19 in The Hollywood Reporter.
Tina got 12 nominations, including for its lead actress, Adrienne Warren, who plays Tina Turner.
Best musical is the only category that has shows aiming to reopen when Broadway returns, which won’t be until late 2021 at the earliest. Normally, the Tonys are a prime-time vehicle to promote Broadway, reward excellence and sell tickets. This year’s edition is an opportunity to highlight Broadway as a cultural force and economic engine that desperately needs government aid. Democrats introduced a $10 billion aid package for theater and live music venues that’s unlikely to pass this year.
Jagged Little Pill was developed at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. The best musical category has been dominated in recent years by smallish shows developed at nonprofit theater companies, such as Hadestown, Dear Evan Hansen and Fun Home. Campaigning for awards is likely to be relatively muted this season, as productions don’t have money for expensive advertising and there’s no immediate payoff, with box offices closed and the multi-billion-dollar industry on its knees.
The awards will be presented, whenever that is, by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League.