July 22nd, 2024

Broadway celebrates a packed and varied theater season with the 2024 Tony Awards

By Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press on June 15, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – The 28 Broadway shows that earned at least one Tony Award nomination are hoping Sunday is the day the sealed envelopes break in their favor.

The three-hour main telecast from New York City’s Lincoln Center will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a free pre-show on Pluto TV at 6:30 p.m.

“˜A time of transformation’

The awards cap a Broadway theater season that had something for everyone – fun musicals like “Back to the Future,” sweeping romance in “The Notebook,” political rallying cries like “Suffs” and intimate ensembles like “Mother Play” and “Appropriate.” Filipinos took center stage in “Here Lies Love” and autism was explored in “How to Dance in Ohio.”

“I think it has been a year of real flexibility. I also think Broadway is in a time of transformation,” said Tonys host Ariana DeBose. “A total of 36 productions opened on Broadway this season alone and each one spoke to a very different audience. I do believe that we are learning, “˜If you build it, they will come.’ So we are continuing to find our voice and who Broadway wants to be.”

DeBose has said she expects the show to move “like a Broadway show” – in other words, briskly and with scene changes in front the audience. “We want to give you a full Broadway experience,” she said.

Nicole Scherzinger will anchor the “In Memoriam” section and the late Chita Rivera will get a separate tribute from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth.

Some key awards to watch

Two shows share the most nominations with 13: a piano prodigy’s coming-of-age in “Hell’s Kitchen” and the back-and-forth struggles to create a rock album in the play “Stereophonic.” They are competing in different categories, best new musical and best new play.

Of the 26 competitive categories, two are virtual locks: “Stereophonic,” a critical and box office triumph, and “Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim- George Furth musical that flopped when it premiered on Broadway in 1981 but is the strong favorite for best musical revival.

A case could also be made that “Appropriate,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play about a family reunion in Arkansas where everyone has competing motivations and grievances, will comfortably earn the best play revival award.

Looking to beat “Hell’s Kitchen” for the top new musical crown are “The Outsiders,” an adaptation of the beloved S. E. Hinton novel and Francis Ford Coppola film; “Illinoise,” the dance-heavy, dialogue-less stage adaptation of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album “Illinois”; “Suffs,” based on the American suffragists of the early 20th century; and “Water for Elephants,” which combines Sara Gruen’s 2006 bestseller with circus elements.

Hoping to knock down “Stereophonic” are “Mother Play,” Paula Vogel’s look at a mother and her kids spanning 1964 to the 21st century; “Mary Jane,” Amy Herzog’s humanistic portrait of a divorced mother of a young boy with severe health issues; “Prayer for the French Republic,” Joshua Harmon’s sprawling family comedy-drama that deals with Zionism, religious fervency and antisemitism; and “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” Jocelyn Bioh’s comedy about the lives of West African women working at a salon.

The leading actress in a musical race is between veteran Kelli O’Hara in “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Hell’s Kitchen” newcomer Maleah Joi Moon. On the play side, Sarah Paulson from “Appropriate” is expected to win the best lead actress trophy over a challenge by Jessica Lange in “Mother Play.”

On the men’s side, former “Hamilton” standout Leslie Odom Jr. from “Purlie Victorious” is up against “Succession” star Jeremy Strong in the revival of “An Enemy of the People,” while Jonathan Groff is the favorite to win on the musical side for “Merrily We Roll Along,” competing against Eddie Redmayne in “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club” and Brian d’Arcy James from “Days of Wine and Roses.”

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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More on the Tony Awards: https://apnews.com/hub/tony-awards

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