Tony Awards Spotlight Historic Shifts and Star-Studded Nominations on Broadway

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As the final crop of Broadway performances hustled their way onto the stage before the eligibility window closed, nearly 40 plays and musicals now dress in anticipation, hoping to take center-stage for Tony Award nominations this year.

Emmy-winning actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Tony and Grammy-winning actress Renée Elise Goldsberry are set to bestow the noteworthy list of nominees on Tuesday morning. This will be the result of intense voting by the nominating committee, comprised of 60 members.

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A flurry of 14 shows emerged during an 11-day window this season— a flurry, while not rare these days, signifies the hopes of Broadway producers to imprint their work vividly into voters’ minds in the nick of time for the prestigious Tony Awards ceremony on June 16. Yet, unlike the wave made by the colossal “Hamilton” in 2016, or last year’s critics’ favorite “Kimberly Akino,” this year seems absent of a singular, overarching musical phenomenon.

Noteworthy of this year’s Broadway awards’ season, however, is the promising shift towards gender equity in directing nominations. A woman wielded the director’s megaphone in about half of the 21 musicals — new and revivals — that took to the stage this season. Five out of the season’s 16 new plays and play revivals also saw women in the director’s chair.

The current record, held by the 2022 Tony Awards, saw four women nominated across directing categories. Only ten women, however, have worn the crown of directing winners thus far.

The eligible lineup for this season presents an intriguing mix of original works and reinterpretations of established movies or books — such as “The Outsiders,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Notebook,” “Back to the Future,” and “Water for Elephants”— adding a fresh flavor to established narratives. Meanwhile, new works have made their grand entrances on Broadway, including “Suffs,” a spirited play on suffrage, Sufjan Stevens-scored dance-intense “Illinoise,” rock band drama “Stereophonic,” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” which draws inspiration from the life of Alicia Keys.

Entertainment serendipity saw Huey Lewis & The News songs echoing at both his tribute show “The Heart of Rock and Roll” and the musically unaffiliated “Back to the Future.” Rachel McAdams, who catapulted to fame in the film version of “The Notebook,” found herself competing with the musical adaptation of the same narrative. Other peculiar happenings plant “The Wiz” and “Wicked” within Broadway’s shared space, while “Cabaret” and a musical about artist Tamara de Lempicka simultaneously feature Nazis.

This season also drew in numerous Hollywood celebrities, including 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.”

Rounding off the impressive list of shows for the season were historical firsts and memorable revivals. Notably, “Here Lies Love” featured Broadway’s first all-Filipino cast and predominantly Filipino producers, including Grammy-winner H.E.R., renowned comedian Jo Koy, and Black Eyed Peas’ apl.de.ap. A troupe of openly autistic actors starred in “How to Dance in Ohio,” marking a Broadway first.

Stellar musical revivals added a nostalgic touch to the season, with impressive performances from “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “The Wiz,” “The Who’s Tommy,”- Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” and the fourth revival of “Cabaret”.

To add more glitter to the event, Academy Award winner and Tony Award-nominee Ariana DeBose, who hosted both the 2023 and 2022 ceremonies, will return this year to produce and choreograph the opening act.

Set in the David H. Koch Theater — the stage of New York City Ballet and neighbor to the Lincoln Square Theater housing the Broadway venue Beaumont Theater, the award ceremony is sure to be a spectacle.

Following last year’s schedule, the three-hour celebration of Broadway’s finest 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 a few Tony Awards handed out during this segment.

The gross turnout for this season’s Broadway was about $1.4 billion from approximately 11.1 million tickets. Although numbers were down slightly in comparison to the previous year—a four-percent drop in gross revenue and a one-percent decrease in ticket sales—the magic of Broadway still shimmers, poised for an exciting Tony Awards season.