The Washington Post

‘Strange Loop’ leads Tony nomination­s

- BY PETER MARKS

“A Strange Loop” and five other contenders will duke it out for the top prize at the 2022 Tony Awards — outstandin­g new musical — as the nomination­s announced Monday in 26 categories herald the successful completion of the first full Broadway season since pre-pandemic 2019.

The other nominees for best musical are “Six,” a rollicking treatment of the six wives of King Henry VIII; “MJ,” the Michael Jackson bio-musical; Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night”; “Girl From the North Country”; and “Paradise Square” — a whopping six nominees in a category that in some more artistical­ly destitute years can barely scrounge up four.

But the 2019 Pulitzer-winning “A Strange Loop” — the raucously witty tale of a struggling Broadway composer by Michael R. Jackson — has to be considered the early front-runner for the evening’s most coveted award. It garnered the most nomination­s, 11, of any of the 29 production­s that received recognitio­n from the panel of 29 Tony nominators. Some 650 producers, designers, actors and other theater people will now cast their votes for the awards to be bestowed on June 12 at Radio City Music Hall.

The contest for best new play is another robust category, with five worthy entries: Lynn Nottage’s “Clyde’s”; Martin Mcdonagh’s “Hangmen”; Stefano Massini and Ben Power’s “The Lehman Trilogy”; Tracy Letts’s “The Minutes”; and Dominique Morisseau’s “Skeleton Crew.”

The nomination­s were revealed Monday morning on the Tony Awards Youtube page by actors Adrienne Warren and Joshua Henry. The 75th ceremony is a return to traditiona­l form for the Tonys, which were forced by the coronaviru­s shutdown in March 2020 to scrub the festivitie­s that year. The awards for the truncated 2019-20 season were finally handed out last September.

It appears that the nominators concluded there were so many worthy performanc­es they couldn’t narrow down their lists to the traditiona­l four or five nominees. As a result, there are seven actors vying for best actor in a play, among them all three of the stars of “The Lehman Trilogy,” an epic 31/2-hour account of the 140year rise and demise of the Lehman Brothers investment house. They are Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Adrian Lester.

The nomination­s include many notable performanc­es and a few glaring exclusions: no best musical revival nod for “Funny Girl,” and a virtual shutout of its creators and performers, with the exception of Jared Grimes as a best supporting actor candidate. “Company,” “Caroline, or Change” and “The Music Man” will compete in the musical revival category. For best revival of a play, the nominees are David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” Richard Greenberg’s “Take Me Out” and Alice Childress’s “Trouble in Mind.”

The acting categories brim with lovely performanc­es. Some of the most interestin­g: Deirdre O’connell, as a kidnapping victim, lip-syncing to a recording of the voice of the actual victim in Lucas Hnath’s “Dana H.”; Myles Frost, the uncanny channeler of Jackson in “MJ”; Jaquel Spivey, who goes up against him as the central character in “A Strange Loop”; Sharon D. Clarke, for her stunning turn as the title character in “Caroline, or Change”; and Lachanze, for a breakout dramatic performanc­e in “Trouble in Mind.”

The lack of a category for performanc­e by an ensemble is felt keenly this year, as several plays and musicals in contention seem worthy of such a prize. These include “The Minutes” and “Take Me Out,” among the plays, and “Six,” “Girl From the North Country” and “A Strange Loop,” among the musicals. (L Morgan Lee and John-andrew Morrison nabbed nomination­s for supporting performanc­es in “A Strange Loop.”)

Some big-name actors received nods, too, among them Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, for “The Music Man”; Sam Rockwell, for “American Buffalo”; and Crystal, for “Mr. Saturday Night.”

The Tony Awards will be hosted by Oscar winner Ariana Debose and broadcast live in two parts on sunday, June 12, from radio city Music Hall. the first hour will stream at 7 p.m. eastern on Paramount Plus, followed by a three-hour telecast on cbs starting at 8 p.m. eastern.

 ?? Marc J. Franklin ?? CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Adrianna Hicks, center, as Henry VIII’S first wife, Catherine of Aragon, with some of her successors in “Six”; Edmund Donovan and Reza Salazar in “Clyde’s”; and Tony nominee Jaquel Spivey, center, as Usher, with members of the cast of “A Strange Loop,”
Marc J. Franklin CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Adrianna Hicks, center, as Henry VIII’S first wife, Catherine of Aragon, with some of her successors in “Six”; Edmund Donovan and Reza Salazar in “Clyde’s”; and Tony nominee Jaquel Spivey, center, as Usher, with members of the cast of “A Strange Loop,”
 ?? JOAN Marcus ??
JOAN Marcus
 ?? JOAN Marcus ??
JOAN Marcus

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