In an unprecedented year for the Broadway community, the Tony Awards just gifted theatre fans with a reason to celebrate: Jeremy O. Harris’ audacious and brilliant “Slave Play” now holds the record for the most play nominations in a single season with a whopping dozen.
That eclipses by one the benchmark set by the 2018 revival of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” which scored 11 bids including Best Revival, Director (Marianne Elliott), Actor (Andrew Garfield), Featured Actor (Nathan Lane), two in Featured Actress (Susan Brown, Denise Gough), Original Score, and Scenic, Costume, Lighting, and Sound Designs. “Angels” took home three trophies for Revival, Garfield, and Lane.
“Slave Play” leap-frogged “Angels in America” in part because of its impressive showing in the acting categories. From its all-around sensational ensemble five reaped bids: Lead Actress (Joaquina Kalukango), two Featured Actors (Ato Blankson-Wood, James Cusati-Moyer) and two Featured Actresses (Chalia La Tour, Annie McNamara). Its strongest competitor, “The Inheritance,” tied the previous “Angels” record with 11 bids including citations for four of its players.
The Original Score category helped both “Slave Play” and “The Inheritance” rack up those double-digit totals. This season featured only one original musical. The Tony nominators seized on that opportunity, snubbing the score of musical “The Lightning Thief” in favor of music from five plays: “A Christmas Carol,” “The Inheritance,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Slave Play,” and “The Sound Inside.” “Angels in America” also numbered Original Score among its haul.
“Slave Play” also contends in Direction for the Broadway bow of Robert O’Hara; Scenic Design for Tony-winner Clint Ramos (“Eclipsed”); Costume Design for Dede Ayite, a double-nominee this year; Lighting Design for the Broadway debut of Jiyoun Chang, and Sound Design for first-time nominee Lindsay Jones.