2022 Tony nominees react: Jesse Williams, Billy Crystal, Mary-Louise Parker, and more
This year's nominees, from Broadway newcomers to veteran performers, share their reactions to getting recognized at this year's ceremony.
The nominees for the 2022 Tony Awards have been announced, honoring the shows that reopened Broadway post-pandemic in the 2021-22 season. A total of 29 productions received at least one nod, including pandemic-postponed productions, starry revivals, and new plays and musicals that run the gamut of musical and dramatic styles. Read the full list of 2022 Tony Award nominees, and get tickets to Tony-nominated shows on New York Theatre Guide.
Leading the pack in nominations is A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson's musical that won multiple Off-Broadway awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2020. The show, based on Jackson's process writing that very musical, snagged 11 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (for Broadway newcomer Jaquel Spivey), Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.
“When I first heard Michael R. Jackson’s work, I knew I was hearing an exciting and important new voice in American musical theatre. I was taken on a trip that was funny, insightful, wild, and challenging – and I wanted to share this story that I had yet to see on a Broadway stage," said producer Barbara Whitman in response to A Strange Loop's nominations. "I am so grateful to be able to work with the most talented creators, actors, and designers who have come together to tell this game-changing story eight times a week.”
"This type of stuff doesn't happen for folks like me. Or so I thought. Until today," Spivey said. "I've put the possibility of even a Tony nomination out of my mind because I never believed it was possible for a person like me. I thought I had to be skinny, I thought I had to be masculine, I thought I had to be from a wealthy family, and I thought I had to be 'perfect.' Turns out all I needed to be was Jaquel and that feels good as hell right now."
“I was trying to pretend like I wasn’t going to watch and something forced me out of bed and in front of the TV," said John-Andrew Morrison, who was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for A Strange Loop. "I'm in shock but I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled for our show, for all the folks that got nominated. It’s been a journey and I’m so very proud of us."
On the Featured Actress in a Musical side, L Morgan Lee of A Strange Loop became the first openly transgender performer to receive a Tony Award nomination. "To specifically be a trans actress in the company of these incredible women that I respect and have enjoyed for many years... This nomination is SO much bigger than me," she said. "I hope someone will see this moment and feel like they can go on. No matter what the world, or school, or people tell them they are 'supposed' to be, how they are 'supposed' to sound... that they will keep striving to love and embrace the fullest version of who they are. That they can safely find breath in choosing truth. That they will keep studying and working and dreaming the biggest dreams."
Her fellow nominee Shoshana Bean said of her own nomination, "It’s still kind of sinking in… but what I do know for certain is I’m in a category with literal giants and for that I am so honored and humbled. I am proud to be part of the season that brought audiences back to the theatre." Bean is featured in Mr. Saturday Night, the Billy Crystal-led musical comedy adaptation of his same-named 1992 film.
Crystal himself also received a Best Actor nomination, saying, "I am so grateful for the five nominations Mr. Saturday Night received and for the amazing people who have made our show such a joy to experience."
A Strange Loop and Mr. Saturday Night both received Best Musical nominations, alongside Paradise Square and MJ The Musical, which trail A Strange Loop for most nominations with 10 each. Rounding out the category are Girl From the North Country and Six, which began performances in 2020 just before the pandemic but were considered for Tony eligibility in the 2021-2022 Broadway season.
Six's creators, then-college-aged Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, said, "We created Six as a fun summer project for us and our friends in 2017, thinking that, come the autumn, we’d be moving on with our lives and becoming lawyers or accountants or something. So for that show to be nominated for a LITERAL Tony Award is just beyond." The buzzy pop musical about the six wives of Henry VIII snagged many of the same nominations its premiere London production received at the 2019 Olivier Awards, including Best Costume Design (for Gabriella Slade) and Best Choreography (for Carrie-Anne Ingrouille). The show's six-woman ensemble also received an Olivier nomination then, but did not receive a Tony nomination this year.
On the flip side, actors from couple of this year's major musicals snagged their show's lone nominations. Rob McClure joined Spivey, Crystal, Myles Frost (as Michael Jackson in MJ), and Hugh Jackman (as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man) for playing the titular role in Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway. "I am ecstatic to have my name listed alongside those four brilliant artists for the next month, as we celebrate the resilience of this community. Our show has been through so much. This nomination honors all my remarkable colleagues at the Sondheim [Theatre] who make my performance possible. I love them."
Jared Grimes also received the sole nod for Funny Girl, the musical's first Broadway revival led by Beanie Feldstein. "I am super excited and grateful to be nominated for my first Tony. Since day one, I’ve received nothing but love and support from the cast and creatives of Funny Girl and that gives me the joy that I bring to the stage every night," said Grimes, who got a Best Featured Actor nomination. "It’s truly a dream come true that I get to honor my idols such as Sammie Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines in the form of Eddie Ryan."
On the non-musical side, the Best Play nominees include The Lehman Trilogy, Clyde's, Skeleton Crew, The Minutes, and Hangmen. The latter two played a few performances in 2020 but had their official openings this spring, while the others opened in fall 2021.
"I’m thrilled to be recognized for my work during this historic year on Broadway," said Nottage, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Clyde's and the bookwriter for MJ The Musical. "I want to acknowledge my fellow travelers who weathered this difficult moment to bring back theater. I had the joy of working with amazing collaborators, like [Clyde's director] Kate Whoriskey and [MJ director] Christopher Wheeldon, who infused the work with passion, love and joy."
It's rare for a single person to be doubly nominated in the same year, but multiple artists did so in 2022. In addition to Jackson getting multiple nods for A Strange Loop and Nottage for Clyde's and MJ, Beowulf Boritt received a nomination each for designing the sets of Flying Over Sunset and POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive. Conor McPherson received Best Direction and Best Book nominations for Girl From the North Country, and Christopher Wheeldon received directing and choreography nods for MJ. And for directing and choreographing the first revival of Ntozake Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Camille A. Brown became the first Black female director/choreographer on Broadway in 67 years and got Tony nominations for doing both.
"After 18 months of dark, empty stages just getting to create the worlds of POTUS and Flying Over Sunset on Broadway was thrilling. Getting to do it with [POTUS director] Susan Stroman and [Flying Over Sunset director] James Lapine was more than my younger self would ever have dared dream of. Getting a pair of Tony nominations for them leaves me speechless," Boritt said.
“I never thought I would ever get the opportunity to direct on Broadway so to be recognized in this way is beyond what I ever imagined," Brown said. "Special thanks to the producers, cast, creatives, crew, and everyone at the Booth Theatre who made our show come to life. Lifting up Ntozake Shange and grateful for her choreopoem.”
for colored girls was one of many buzzy play revivals this season. It was joined by shows like Neil Simon's farce Plaza Suite, which starred Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker and received a single Tony nomination for Best Costume Design; and Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's play about a gay baseball pro that won Best Play in 2003. This year, the show received four nominations, for Best Play Revival and Best Featured Actor for stars Jesse Williams, Michael Oberholtzer, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. (Ferguson plays Mason Marzac, the role that originally won Denis O'Hare the Best Featured Actor Tony.)
“What a ride! I am truly thrilled for our entire Take Me Out company and so damn grateful to the theatre community for this welcome and opportunity to grow," Williams said. Oberholtzer added, "This is a day I will never forget. To be a working actor is a blessing in of itself; to have the opportunity to do a Richard Greenberg play on Broadway is grace; to be nominated for a Tony for my performance is worth a lifetime of gratitude."
Another talked-about play revival is Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, which just made its Broadway debut 25 years after its world premiere Off-Broadway. The production reunited its original director, Mark Brokaw, and original stars, two-time Tony winner Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, both of whom got Best Leading Actor and Actress in a Play nominations, respectively. Though 2022 marked Drive's first Broadway production, the show — along with Alice Childress's Trouble in Mind, starring Best Leading Actress in a Play nominee LaChanze — was considered in the Best Play Revival category.
"I am so honored to be nominated alongside my peers in this category," Vogel said. "And so thrilled to walk the red carpet with Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse who take my breath away every performance. My thanks to the entire cast and Mark Brokaw."
"To be part of this play appearing on Broadway after decades of effort is an actual dream come true. There's no higher honor than to perform Paula Vogel’s miraculous play alongside David Morse and Johanna Day and Alyssa May Gold and Chris Myers. The gift of participating in this first season back defies description, and I’m endlessly grateful to the audiences who come to any show, and bring life back into these houses that have been dark for so long, with so many out of work and struggling," Parker said. "If I wasn’t saving my voice I'd open a window and scream my thanks to the heavens."
Vogel and her company weren't the only ones who spent years anticipating their Broadway bows. Said Lowell Ganz, who was nominated for Best Book of a Musical alongside his Mr. Saturday Night co-writers Crystal and Babaloo Mandel: "It took me 50 years to get to Broadway. Worth every second."