The sobering musical Jagged Little Pill, which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, earned a leading 15 Tony Award nominations Thursday, as the Broadway community took the first steps to celebrate a pandemic-shortened season that upended the theatre world.
There are three best musical nominees: Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge! The Musical! and Tina—The Tina Turner Musical.” And there are five best play nominees: Grand Horizons, The Inheritance, Sea Wall/A Life, Slave Play and The Sound Inside.
Tom Kitt, honoured for orchestrations for Jagged Little Pill, thanked Morissette and his collaborators, but also graciously nodded to the more than a dozen shows that were unable to open due to the pandemic.
“I also want to acknowledge all of the shows that were not able to open, so today I’m thinking of all of the great artists who were supposed to be a part of the ’19-’20 season, and I can’t wait to see all of their beautiful work when Broadway returns,” he said in a statement.
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez nabbed 11 nominations. It’s a two-part, seven-hour epic that uses Howards End as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
In a statement, the playwright mourned the fact that the pandemic has left people without a vital resource to gather together and examine themselves and the nation.
“Theatre, at its best, helps call us to those better instincts of our nature. I look forward to the day we can all return safely, joyfully to those sacred spaces and to tell each other stories of our lives and of our nation,” Lopez said.
‘Not the year any of us imagined’
Nipping on the heels of Jagged Little Pill for overall numbers of nominations is Moulin Rouge!, a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, that got 14 nods.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said Carmen Pavlovic, a lead producer of Moulin Rouge! “It’s obviously not the year any of us imagined. At the same time I feel honoured to have the opportunity to be part of such a history-making moment—I think we will all remember this year for many decades to come.”
“I really just feel pleased to be standing with the rest of the Broadway community at this moment and to have a moment to come together and celebrate the work and just remind ourselves of everything it is we’re fighting for and fighting to get back to,” Pavlovic added.
Two very different offerings are tied with 12: Slave Play, Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, exploring the legacy of slavery in interracial sexual dynamics, and Tina—The Tina Turner Musical, which tells the rock icon’s life with songs that include Let’s Stay Together and Proud Mary.
Broadway closed March 12 due to pandemic
Broadway theatres abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows—including 16 that were still scheduled to open in the spring. The cutoff for eligibility for all shows was set at Feb. 19.
The nominations came from 10 new plays, four new musicals and four play revivals. Two high profile shows—Freestyle Love Supreme and David Byrne’s American Utopia—did not accommodate Tony voters and weren’t eligible.
The 2020 Tony Awards ceremony will be broadcast digitally and take place later this year, at a date still to be announced. It’s one of few bright spots for theatre fans—Broadway will be shut down until at least May 30.
“Theatre will survive,” said James Monroe Iglehart, the nominations host, during Thursday’s announcement.