Jeremy O. Harris’ groundbreaking work Slave Play, an incisive story about race and sex among interracial couples is nominated for a history-making 12 Tony Awards at this year’s ceremony following a season cut short by the ongoing global pandemic — the production is the first new play to ever reach that many. Matthew Lopez’s play The Inheritance, which centers gay love in New York a generation after the AIDS epidemic, also scored 11 nominations.
Harris was one of 2019's Out100 cover stars, and previously made history as the youngest Black man with a broadway debut. Slave Play unflinchingly explores, through roleplay, the sexual, racial, and power dynamics that exist in relationships where one partner is Black and one is white, or white-passing. The play received nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Joaquina Kalukango, two nominations for Actress in a Featured Role, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design and Sound Design, as well as Best Play overall.
Actors James Cusati-Moyer and Ato Blankson-Wood who play the gay couple in the play both were nominated for Best Actor in a Featured Role. Additionally, playwright and director Robert O’Hara was nominated for his direction.
The Inheritance, written by gay playwright Matthew Lopez, follows gay men in New York discussing what they owe to the previous generation of gay men who were decimated by the AIDS crisis. The play scored nominations for actors Andrew Burnpa and John Benjamin Hickey in the Actor in a Leading Role and Actor in a Featured Role categories, respectively.
As for musicals, three shows snagged every single nomination. Jagged Little Pill received 15 nominations, the Jordan Roth produced Moulin Rouge! Got 14, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical got 12. All three musicals are jukebox musicals, featuring songs by popular artists.
Only 18 productions were eligible for nominations this year, ten new plays, four new musicals, and four revivals. In the Leading Actor category for musicals, Aaron Tveit from Moulin Rouge! Is the only nominee. This is clearly one of the strangest Tony years in history, but honestly, no matter how many shows were nominated, both Slave Play and The Inheritance were expected to dominate award season.