#TonysSoDiverse

In the wake of the 2016 Academy Awards and the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, many are looking to the Tonys this season as a potential beacon of light in the way of diversity.

Now, this isn’t to say that this season is the be-all-end-all for diverse stage works, and I know, like most other theatre fans, that the Tonys have had the same discriminatory history as the Academy Awards and the Emmys. But, when all four major acting awards in the musical camp could be won by actors of color, some credit is still due.

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Shuffle Along

Out of all of the eligible plays and musicals this season, 9 out of 36 staged central plots involving characters of color as the protagonists, and another 6 featured actors of color in general major and supporting roles. Again, the majority of focus is still spent on white stories and actors, but when I think about what the eligibility list looked like even 10 years ago, this is a step in the right direction.

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The cast of Waitress: The Musical

Though many shows featuring diverse casts were eligible, there were some shocking nominations left by the wayside in favor of less diverse works.

Allegiance, which opened to great critical reviews and starring the likes of Lea Salonga and George Takei, received no nominations from the awards committee. Before the announcement ceremony, I was sure that the musical would at least earn some acting nominations, as well as perhaps a costume nod or best book nomination. What was nominated in it’s place was not just surprising to me, but to a lot of people.

Having listened to the soundtrack and knowing that the story was based on George Takei’s own experiences with the Japanese-American WWII internment camps, Allegiance was a story previously left untold in an industry (and country for that matter) that largely ignores the narratives of Asian-Americans. Besides Philippa Soo in Hamilton, no other Asian-American actor or creative received a nomination. I may risk repeating myself, but there is still clear work to be done when it comes to nominations as well as the stories created on Broadway.

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George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung in Allegiance

But, one thing I have noticed is the diversity in the creative fields, as well as diversity beyond race. This season saw women of color (Danai Gurira and Liesl Tommy) nominated for directing, and writing (Eclipsed). Clint Ramos’ nomination for costume design, Sergio Trujillo’s nod for choreography, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recognition for book and original score shone a well deserved light on the men of the Latino community.

Across the board, women of all races have been nominated in almost every creative category, from Sara Bareilles for original score, to Ann Roth in costume design, to Natasha Katz and Peggy Eisenhauer with their respective nods for lighting design. Michael Arden, a member of the LGBTQ community, garnered a best director nomination, and though his revival of Spring Awakening received no specific acting nods, it was still nominated for best revival. This means that for the first time, an actress in a wheelchair and an ensemble of deaf actors has been recognized by the awards committee.

It’s clear to see that the trend of recognizing and awarding diversity is on the upward climb and has been placed in the spotlight. Even with just the nominations, the course is set in the right direction, and I hope that the award ceremony itself continues on this path. Here’s to hoping that the next few seasons will offer even more.

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Jennifer Hudson and Cybthia Erivo in The Color Purple

Meet the Eligible Shows (Part 3)

As is the case with Broadway plays, Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical also earn their own categories. While some years are full of revivals that bring audiences back to a familiar show, this year the original musicals far outweigh the eligible revivals. Let’s jump in and meet the new shows that have stepped onto the Broadway stage!

Able to be entered for Best Musical:

Allegiance tour_img-370570-90

Inspired by George Takei’s childhood experience of living as a Japanese-American duing WWII America, Allegiance chronicles the Kimura family in their struggles following Pearl Harbor. Forced to leave their homes for internment camps along with 120,000 other families, stars Lea Salonga, George Takei, and Telly Leung fight “between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden love.”

Where: Longacre Theatre
Run: November 8 2015- February 14 2016

 

Amazing Grace  14014-3

The story behind the “world’s most beloved” song written by John Newton, Amazing Grace follows the young English composer as he comes of age in a Britain that makes its fortune through slavery. The son of a slave trader, while at sea he finds himself in his darkest hour, and the moment leads to an “anthem of hope” that guides him home.

Where: Nederlander Theatre
Run: July 16 2015- October 25 2015

 

 

 

American Psycho ap_og

Direct from the West End and inspired by the film starring Christian Bale, American Psycho is set in the “excess of 1980s Manhattan”, and tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a young and handsome Wall Street banker who pursues his “darkest American dreams.” A rich businessman by day, Bateman takes part in some darker hobbies by night, and his mask of sanity has begun to slip in between the two.

Where: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Run: April 21 2016-

 

Bright Star 14296-3

Inspired by a true event and set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Bright Star finds its protagonist in Alice Murphy, a successful Southern literary editor. As she mentors aspiring writer Billy Cane, a young soldier just returned home from World War II, she begins to confront a haunted past that may completely alter her life once more.

Where: Cort Theatre
Run: March 24 2016-

 

 

 

Disaster! dvdfd

This homage to disco and 1970’s horror flicks takes place in 1979 Manhattan, at the opening of Barracuda, the world’s first floating casino and discotheque. Unaware of impending natural disasters, the cast of characters roll through their opening night in plots reminiscent of cult classics such as The Poseidon Adventure and Airport 1975.

Where: Nederlander Theatre
Run: March 8 2016-

 

 

Hamilton 13717-3

Set in Revolutionary era American, Hamilton chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton, founding father “without a father” who would come to be the first Secretary of the Treasury. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is a hip-hop fusion that brings personal connections back to history and politics.

Where: Richard Rodgers Theatre
Run: August 6 2015-

 

 

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan onyourfeetposter

Based on the life story of superstar Gloria Estefan and her husband, producer Emilio Estefan, On Your Feet! features heavily the music of their career. The musical showcases the early struggles of the couple as they fought with record labels and executives alike to bring their Cuban-fusion genre to the American public, as well as their eventual success and legacy.

Where: Marquis Theatre
Run: November 5 2015-

 

 

School of Rock: The Musical 13693-3

Following in the footsteps of the 2003 film of the same name, School of Rock once again features the class of pseudo-teacher Dewey Finn and the formation of his class band to settle his personal old scores. Featuring new original music as well as music from the film, the show tells the story about the power of hidden talent, and that sometimes its okay to “stick it to the man.”

Where: Winter Garden Theatre
Run: December 6 2015-

 

 

Tuck Everlasting 14295-3

Adapted from Natalie Babbitt’s novel, Tuck Everlasting spins the tale of the Tuck family, who have unwittingly gained immortality through a mystic spring, and Winnie Foster, the young girl who falls accidentally into their secluded life. Romance, compassion, and loss frame a show that endeavors to ask what the true meaning of life becomes when you no longer have an end in sight.

Where: Broadhurst Theatre
Run: April 26 2016-

 

 

Waitress 14665-3

With a book by Jessie Nelson, and music & lyrics by Grammy-nominated Sara Bareilles, Waitress tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an unhappy marriage to her husband. When Jenna unexpectedly discovers she is pregnant and begins to fall for her gynecologist, she looks for an unusual way out: a pie contest with a grand prize that may change her life.

Where: Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Run: April 24 2016-

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