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The 77th Tony Award Nominations Highlights

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One of the most significant times of the year is upon us Broadway babes, as award season is finally here. The new shows from Broadway that we’ve come to know and love are finally being recognized for their excellence, and with style, no less. While we have a bit of time until the 77th Tony Awards, held on June 16, the celebration began last week by announcing the Tony Award nominations! In a ceremony hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Renée Elise Goldsberry, the stage was set for what is bound to be an exciting award season for these talented actors and extraordinary shows.

The 2023/2024 Tony Awards nominations are a prestigious list, including any show that has graced one of the 41 esteemed Broadway theatres between April 28, 2023, and April 25 of this year. Across 26 distinctive categories, these shows will compete for recognition for their hard work. This will be particularly tough this year, as there is some stiff competition among the nominees.

There’s a good mix of stories and representation, and plenty to applaud, with all shows already winners for even being nominated. Once June 16 rolls around, we’ll have definitive winners for each category, so let’s break down some of the shows that received the most nominations for Tony’s this year!

[A complete list of categories and nominees is located at the end of this article]

Hell’s Kitchen

Two shows are walking away with the most nominations this year at the Tony Awards. Hell’s Kitchen is the musical that has received the most nominations, with 13 nominations! Amongst the nominations, this musical is up for Best Musical, one of five shows for that category. So, what exactly is Hell’s Kitchen about?

Hell's Kitchen (Sara Krulwich)
Hell’s Kitchen (Sara Krulwich)

Like so many popular Broadway shows at this time, Hell’s Kitchen is a jukebox musical featuring the songs and music of Alicia Keys. The show, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz, is semi-autobiographical, telling the story of Keys’ upbringing in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Initially, the show ran off-Broadway at the Public Theater before its Broadway debut on April 20, 2024, at the Shubert Theatre.

Audiences and critics consider Hell’s Kitchen one of the best examples of a jukebox musical. Maleah Joi Moon, Shoshana Bean, and Kecia Lewis are specifically praised for their performances, and all three are up for individual awards.

Stereophonic

Stereophonic is tied with Hell’s Kitchen for the most nominations in the 77th Tony Awards, the most nods a play has received to date! Breaking the record once held by Slave Play, which received 12 nominations, Stereophonic is looking to make history once again by sweeping its categories.

 This play, written by David Adjmi (Stunning), tells the story of a 1970s rock band struggling to record a new album. The pressure is on for all the band members, as stardom is knocking on their door. Will they be able to complete their album in time, or will personalities clash?

Stereophonic is unique in that it’s classified as a play but features music significantly, so much so that many actors provide the singing and have to play the instruments on stage. The songs are composed by Will Butler from Arcade Fire, who is nominated for both Outstanding Music in a Play and Oustanding Orchestrations.

The Outsiders

Coming in just under Hell’s Kitchen and Stereophonic is The Outsiders, an adaptation of S. E. Hinton’s novel of the same name. With a book by Adam Rapp and Justin Levine, and music and lyrics by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance (from the band Jamestown Revival), The Outsiders is looking to bring this coming-of-age story to the stage in a spectacle of a show. The show is produced by LaChanze and Angelina Jolie. 

The Outsiders story follows the story of Ponyboy, a 14-year-old caught in the middle of a gang war in 1960s Tulsa, Oklahoma. The war is between the poor greasers, which Ponyboy is a member of, and the “Socs,” an upper-middle-class gang looking to establish dominance.

The Outsiders has received praise for its script and choreography of the show, with most reactions leaning towards the positive. Many have mentioned Brody Grant’s performances as Ponyboy, who has played the role since it ran in San Diego before transitioning to Broadway. The Outsiders has 12 Tony Award nominations.

Appropriate

The show with the following highest number of nominations is the Sarah Paulson-led play Appropriate. Coming in with 8 Tony Award nominations, with one being Best Revival, Appropriate follows the Lafayette family, who is almost as completely dysfunctional as a family might be.

The patriarch has just passed away, and the family must return to Arkansas and the crumbling mansion where he lived to hear the will and figure out the inheritance. Soon, secrets come to light that push the family towards the breaking point, with generational resentments coming into play.

Sarah Paulson plays the eldest daughter, and she and Corey Stall, who plays Bo, her younger brother, are recognized for their performances. Both are up for Tony Awards.

Merrily We Roll Along

This Stephen Sondheim musical is one that many can’t stop talking about across all social media platforms. Merrily We Roll Along, the musical was initially adapted by Sondheim from a 1934 play by George S Kaufman and Moss Hart. It has seen many iterations and revivals, with the most recent one starring Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe, and Lindsay Mendez, with all three up for nominations in their respective roles.

Cast of Merrily We Roll Along
Cast of Merrily We Roll Along (Matthew Murphy).

Merrily We Roll Along follows the journey and friendship of three friends over 20 years of their lives. It focuses on Franklin Shepard (Groff), a composer who forgoes his passions and friendships to become a producer in Hollywood. Interestingly, the musical also tells the story of these three friendships backward, beginning in 1976, when they are almost strangers after being so close, and working back to 1957, when their relationship began.

This new revival of Merrily We Roll Along was the first time the musical has run on Broadway since its initial time in 1981, and it has broken all kinds of records. With an extended run until July, the show continues to rake in the money and praise, and many sold-out shows to its name. Merrily We Roll Along is poised to sweep its categories, as it is a favorite for both audiences and critics.

Water For Elephants

Based on Sara Gruen’s novel, this musical is up for 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This is possibly the most recognizable of the shows nominated, having previously been adapted into a film starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in 2011. Water for Elephants made its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta before transferring to the Imperial Theatre earlier this year!

Water For Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski (Grant Gustin), who works with a traveling circus after losing his parents to a tragic car accident. Loss and alone, Jacob begins with menial work but quickly becomes the veterinarian. Jacob and Marlena (Isabelle McCalla) must work together to train a newly purchased elephant to be the star of a new act or face the wrath of August (Paul Alexander Nolan), the ringmaster.

The musical also explores aging and dementia, as part of the story is told in the present day, with an aged Jacob (Gregg Edelman) telling the story of his circus adventures.

This musical received mixed reviews from critics, with specific mentions given to the visual appeal of the show and the production value presented on stage. The show was written by Rick Elice and directed by Jessica Stone, both of whom are up for awards.

Water For Elephants Musical is a Spectacle of a Show

Water for Elephants Musical review banner

Suffs The Musical

Suffs is my favorite to win, as it is my top show of 2024. As I stated in my review, the musical is awe-inspiring with its message of hope and the need to continue fighting injustices worldwide. Suffs tells the true story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the women fighting for equality daily. While it is an ensemble cast, the story is told through the eyes of Alice Walker and her friends, who band together to bring the government to its knees and finally give women the right to vote.

The show is poignant and beautiful, evoking more emotion than I’ve experienced from a show to date. Suffs has mainly received positive reviews from critics, with much praise for the show’s acting, story, and songs. Suffs is up for Best Musical and Best Book and Original Score, created by Shaina Taub, who also stars as Alice. Nikki M. James also received recognition for her role as Ida B. Wells, with the only cast nomination from this musical.

Suffs The Musical is as Awe-inspiring As It Is Timely

Suffs The Musical Review banner

An Enemy of the People

Based on a play by Henrik Ibsen, dating back to 1882, An Enemy of the People has 5 Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival. This current iteration of the classic play is adapted by Amy Herzog, who is also nominated for Mary Jane in the Best Revival of a Play category.

The play follows Dr. Thomas Stockmann, who decides to share an uncomfortable truth with the world. He is poised to release an exposé about the spa baths in his town, which will ultimately have considerable repercussions for the economic well-being of those living there. Stockmann struggles with what to do but decides what is best for everyone, which is safety. Each decision brings consequences, and the doctor’s about to find that out, as his quickly impacts his life negatively.

Jeremy Strong leads the cast as Dr. Thomas Stockmann and is nominated for his work in the role.

While the above list is not comprehensive, these plays and musicals received the most nominations at the 77th Tony Awards Nomination ceremony. There are still plenty of excellent shows listed below, which deserve just as much recognition as these. Continue for the categories and shows that are up for awards, and make sure to watch the Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana Debose, when they air on CBS in June!

Complete List of the 77th Tony Award Nominations

Best Musical

  • Hell’s Kitchen
  • Illinoise
  • The Outsiders
  • Suffs
  • Water for Elephants

Best Play

  • Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Mary Jane
  • Mother Play
  • Prayer for the French Republic
  • Stereophonic

Best Revival of a Play

  • Appropriate
  • An Enemy of the People
  • Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Best Revival of a Musical

  • Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Gutenberg! The Musical!
  • Merrily We Roll Along
  • The Who’s Tommy

Best Book of a Musical

  • Kristoffer Diaz, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Bekah Brunstetter, The Notebook
  • Adam Rapp and Justin Levine, The Outsiders
  • Shaina Taub, Suffs
  • Rick Elice, Water for Elephants

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

  • Adam Guettel, Days of Wine and Roses
  • David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
  • Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine, The Outsiders
  • Will Butler, Stereophonic
  • Shaina Taub, Suffs

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

  • William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
  • Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
  • Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
  • Jessica Lange, Mother Play
  • Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
  • Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
  • Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Brody Grant, The Outsiders
  • Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
  • Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Eden Espinosa, Lempicka
  • Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
  • Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Will Brill, Stereophonic
  • Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
  • Jim Parsons, Mother Play
  • Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
  • Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
  • Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
  • Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
  • Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
  • Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
  • Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
  • Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
  • Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Amber Iman, Lempicka
  • Nikki M. James, Suffs
  • Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
  • Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Scenic Design of a Play

  • dots, Appropriate
  • dots, An Enemy of the People
  • Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • David Zinn, Stereophonic

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

  • AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
  • Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
  • David Korins, Here Lies Love
  • Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
  • Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical
  • Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Costume Design of a Play

  • Dede Ayite, Appropriate
  • Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
  • Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • David Zinn, An Enemy of the People

Best Costume Design of a Musical

  • Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby
  • David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
  • Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

  • Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
  • Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
  • Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
  • Jane Cox, Appropriate
  • Natasha Katz, Grey House

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

  • Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
  • Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants
  • Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders

Best Sound Design of a Play

  • Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
  • Tom Gibbons, Grey House
  • Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate
  • Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Best Sound Design of a Musical

  • M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
  • Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Cody Spencer, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Play

  • Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
  • Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
  • Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
  • Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Best Direction of a Musical

  • Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Leigh Silverman, Suffs
  • Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants
  • Danya Taymor, The Outsiders

Best Choreography

  • Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
  • Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
  • Justin Peck, Illinoise
  • Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Best Orchestrations

  • Timo Andres, Illinoise
  • Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
  • Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
  • Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

 

The 77th Tony Awards will be held on June 16, 2024, at the David H. Koch Theater in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit the official website. 

Broadway Shows and 77th Tony Awards Discussion (Cosmic Circle Ep. 53)

Broadway and pre 77th Tony Awards podcast

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

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