#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 2)

While new material keeps the Broadway season fresh, revivals that breathe new life into classics earn their own award category. Here are the eligible shows that made their return to Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

Able to be entered for Best Revival of a Play:

Blackbird blackbird-broadway-logo-e1456797702195

Written by David Harrower and originally produced in Edinburgh in 2005. Blackbird depicts a “harrowing” look at the relationship of Una and Ray, who meet again 15 years after their illegal relationship when the former was just 12 years old.

Where: Belasco Theatre
Run: March 10 2016-

 

The Crucible 14095-3

Now considered a staple of American theatre, this incarnation of Arthur Miller’s play star Saoirse Ronan and Ben Wishaw. The Crucible centers on the Salem Witch trials and the implications of lost trust, superstition, and the need to humanize evil.

Where: Walter Kerr Theatre
Run: March 31 2016-

 

 

Fool for Love foolforlove

Sam Shepard’s “landmark myth of the new Wild West”, Fool for Love follows two former lovers  stuck in a motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert. They unpack their deepest secrets and struggle with the question of whether they can survive without each other.

Where: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Run: October 8 2015- December 13 2015

 

 

The Gin Game 13941-3

Written by D.L Coburn, this production of The Gin Game is the first to come back to a Broadway stage in almost 50 years. Starring James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson as two retirement home residents, the show stages a battle of wits and passions for both characters, but only one can win the titular game.

Where: John Golden Theatre
Run: October 14 2015- January 10 2016

 

 

 

Hughie thrtrhr

Eugene O’Neill’s classic set on the Great White Way, this production of Hughie stars Forrest Whitaker in the title role. As a “small-time gambler and big-time drinker”, Hughie aspires to hid own American Dream in 1928 New York City.

Where: Booth Theatre
Run: February 25 2016- March 27 2016

 

 

 

Long Day’s Journey Into Night caoneeswyaavx3e

The second Eugene O’Neill play revived this season, Long Day’s Journey Into Night chronicles one family’s escapades over the course of a seemingly ordinary summer day. The production stars Jessica Lange and John Gallagher Jr. as members of the Tyrone family who battle to unearth a lifetime of secrets.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: April 27 2016-

 

Noises Off noisesoff

Originally produced in 1982, this Michael Frayn comedy is a play-within-a-play. The show follows the dress rehearsal and performance of the fictional Nothing On, of which the real audience only gets to view the disastrous Act One as things both on and off stage continue to unravel.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: January 14 2016- March 13 2016

 

 

Old Times oldtimes

Written by Harold Pinter and starring Clive Owen, Old Times tells the tale of the consequences of nostalgia. When an old friend visits couple Deeley and Kate, what “begins as a trip down memory lane” turns into a tension-filled battle for passion and power.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: October 6 2015- November 29 2015

 

Sylvia sylvia

Matthew Broderick stars in this production of A.R. Gurney’s 1995 dramedy. Though played by a human actress, Sylvia is a dog who is adopted by couple Greg and Kate. The show depicts what happens when humans give in to the habit of projecting human motives and characteristics onto our non-human companions.

Where: Cort Theatre
Run: October 27 2015- January 3 2016

 

A View From The Bridge 13824-3

The second Arthur Miller work to spark a revival this season, A View From The Bridge follows Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn laborer, played in this production by Mark Strong. Though he holds family and honor above all else, his possessive love of a niece he and his wife have raised as their own, drives him to actions that betray his family and his ideals.

Where: Lyceum Theatre
Run: November 12 2015- February 21 2016

 

All images and quotes courtesy of: http://www.tonyawards.com

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