The 2022 Tony Award nominees were released early Monday morning, painting a picture of epidemic theatre.
The Extraordinary Season
Despite the extraordinary season that the Great White Way has just finished, Tony voters this year generally ignored the spring’s celebrity, with the exception of Plaza Suite’s acting nominations.
Many of the performances from the fall and early winter seasons, including those starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Daniel Craig (Macbeth), and Beanie Feldstein (Funny Girl), took a risk and reopened New York’s theatre area after COVID-19 closed it for over two years.
The Early-Season Openers Lackawant
Among the 2022 nominees are the early-season openers Lackawant to Blues, a one-man show by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Henry III, Parts One through Six, a rock concert-style dramatisation of the lives of Henry III’s wives.
The musical, with runs that not only outshone the big names and a pandemic-weary audience to gain nominations, but also avoided the season’s tightest version of health protocols (now being pulled back) and may have taken advantage of voters’ short-term memories for spring defy performances.
About half of this year’s candidates debuted in early 2020, before the industry’s stages fell black on March 12 at 5 o’clock in the afternoon.
This represents about 600 days of (interrupted) creative activity. Company, The Lehman Trilogy, The Music Man, Hangmen, American Buffalo, Take Me Out, Caroline, or Change, Diana, The Musical, The Minutes, Mrs. Doubtfire, Plaza Suite, Clyde’s, and dana h are just some of the shows that were in production when the pandemic hit in the 2019–2020 season.
While some, like the Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse production, were due to begin previews on the actual closing day, others, like the Tony Award-winning Flying Over Sunset, were not nominated at all. The critically acclaimed How I Learned to Drive was set to premiere that spring, and it had already won three awards.
The Nearly 30 Productions Nominated for the 2022 Oscars
About half of the nearly 30 productions nominated for the 2022 Oscars that were open for Broadway’s official reopening night on September 14, 2021 would begin previews between February 1, 2022 and the end of the year.
The Lehman Trilogy, SIX: The Musical, Girl From the North Country, MJ, The Music Man, Clyde’s, Flying Over Sunset, Trouble in Mind, Caroline, or Change, Dana H., Skeleton Crew, Diana, The Musical, Lackawant to Blues, and Mrs. Doubtfire are all on that list.
Many of these musicals had their ommicron premieres between the middle of November and the beginning of February, when the first iteration of the variation sped through Broadway.
At the Winter Garden Theater, the revival and box office behemoth The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster began for previews, only to be cancelled after both performers acquired COVID-19.
One of the Season’s Roughest Stretches
The time between Thanksgiving and early February hurt output much harder than the delta wave productions of late August and early September.
During one of the busiest and most financially successful times of the year, nine separate Broadway musicals had to cancel single or multiple performances due to the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 strain. time period indicated by the year.
Previews for Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew, the third piece in her celebrated Detroit cycle (it garnered three awards, including best play), were even moved out to early 2022 during its limited run at the Manhattan Theater Club.
Skeleton Crew is one of the few contenders whose show openings and schedules were directly impacted by the winter holiday micro wave, along with the musicals Mrs. Doubtfire, SIX, and music man. Ten or more of the 29 nominated spring productions had to be cancelled owing to COVID outbreaks lasting more than a day.
The Omicron Driven
The Omicron driven formwork is also well represented in this year’s candidate pool, with nominees and winners like Jagged Little Pill, Is Not Too Proud, and Waitress.
Lucas Hnath’s reconstruction of his mother’s kidnapping, dana h., is one of this year’s Tony nominees, standing in for the season’s closings due to the pandemic. The play had a nearly two-year pause from performance.
Dana H., for girls of colour who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enough, and Flying over sunset all closed early, with some mentioning COVID effects or low ticket sales during a complicated season, while other shows like Problems in mind and get me outwho both scored four noms are limited runs.
Tony Awards Demonstrate
Two shows nominated for Tony Awards demonstrate how producers have taken exceptional measures this season (after others have been funded through the Save Our Stages Act to restart) to keep their plays running despite shutdown.
Rob McCure, who played the lead role in the musical Mrs. Doubtfire, and the cast of girl from the north, which received seven nominations, including Best Musical Direction and Best Orchestrations (another big nod to duo Conor McPherson and Simon Hale after a Grammy nomination earlier this year), both took time off.
These planned closures would reopen after omicron, with some movies even switching venues for a spring release.
The 2022 Tony Nominations Express
Another method in which the 2022 Tony nominations express the singularity of the pandemic season is by honouring black playwrights.
Not only did eight black authors, including the late Alice Childress, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, have their Broadway debuts in the same season, but it was also one of the most daring periods in Broadway’s history.
Of these, half (Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s morisseau’s skeleton crew, Santiago-Lackawant Hudson’s to Blues, and nanny Problems in mind) were nominated for awards. (With Nottage receiving five, Childress receiving four, Morisseau receiving three, and Santiago-Hudson receiving one, the final tally reads as follows:
Nominees in the main categories for lead and supporting actors for both musicals and plays from Hollywood, such as Ruth Negga, Sam Rockwell, Jesse Williams, Billy Crystal, Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Mare Winningham, Uzo Aduba, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Phylicia Rashad, Ron Cephas Jones, and Rachel Dratch, demonstrate that Broadway is still a lucrative market for stars.
This season is a more complicated and unpredictable version of live performance for everyone, as evidenced by the snubs of Feldstein, funny girl co-star Jane Lynch, and Company’s Katrina Lenk, as well as Parker, Broderick, and Craig (all of whom missed out on appearances before the nomination deadline that was eventually extended due to COVID-related opening delays).