TONY TALK: Joshua D. Reid

Meet Joshua D. Reid, the Tony-nominated sound designer of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

This year’s nomination for Best Sound Design of a Play marks Reid’s first Tony nomination after serving as an Assistant or Associate Sound Designer on 11 Broadway productions over the last decade.

Some of Reid’s previous Broadway credits include AMERICAN PSYCHO, the 2017 revival of FALSETTOS, THE FERRYMAN, and FLYING OVER SUNSET.


Last holiday season’s one-man iteration of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is recognized in several categories for this year’s Tony Awards, including in scenic design for set designer Dane Laffrey & projections designer Lucy MacKinnon, and in lighting design for Ben Stanton.

Learn more about Reid with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination?

Within seconds of the nomination, my wonderful agent Amy Wagner at A3 Artists Agency was calling with congratulations.  I was watching the live announcements and was in such a state of bewilderment that I’m not exactly sure what was said, but it was heartfelt and genuine. At the same time, I was receiving all kinds of messages from friends and family who were also expressing their admiration and adoration. 

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?

If I absolutely only get to pick one, I have to send my heart to Crystal Lucas-Perry. Her performance in Ain’t No Mo’ left me feeling like I wanted to challenge my own thoughts towards others and make positive changes in my own life; and at the same time it was a performance that complimented every other actor and story being told.  There were so many really amazing contributions to the broadway community this year; and I have to admit the personal bias of my choice.  Crystal and I went to college together, and she is one of the most kind and caring people I know.  So I feel personally fortunate to have seen her grow so beautifully as both an artist and as a person over the years.  For both of us to be nominated in the same year, and in our broadway debut year, is something I’ll always be able to cherish and share with her.  

Top restaurant in the theater district?

Definitely Glass House Tavern on 47th Street. I’ve spent so many occasions at this restaurant, catching up with friends, celebrating a special occasion, or simply unwinding before or after a show.  The atmosphere is perfect for connecting with people, and there isn’t a single thing on the menu that I wouldn’t recommend. I’ve been going there for years, and have some wonderful memories with people I cherish.  It’s definitely a staple of my time in the theatre district. 

The first Broadway show you ever saw?

The 2008 revival of Sunday in the Park with George.  It was my first time in New York City, and this was the first show of 6 that I saw with my mother over the course of a week.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first Broadway experience.  The production and the performances were all pinnacle experiences, and really showed how selective focus could be used to enhance the storytelling and the audience’s experience.  I left the show with fascination for what my own technical artistry could contribute to a live performance. 

When did you decide to become a theater artist?

I really discovered my passion for theatre and live performance in high school; and I very much discovered it by chance. I was a musician who was asked to play in the pit orchestra for the spring musical of the Wizard of Oz. Once I saw the community that theater artists had, even at that young age, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of. I (very briefly) tried my hand at acting, but felt like my musicianship and technical skills were what I really wanted to cultivate.  So over the next three years I helped out on the technical side of productions and discovered a passion for scenic and sound design.  It wasn’t until my senior year that I even considered pursuing a collegiate education and making a career out of it. 

What is your earliest Tonys memory?

I remember going to a friend’s house for a Tony Party in 10th grade. At this point, my theatrical knowledge was shallow at best; but all my friends were discussing the various shows, which were their favorites and who was performing in them.  It was also my first time watching the Tony Awards, and the first time that I got to see what Broadway had to offer.  To my friends, this was their Super Bowl, and I was simply there to be exposed and enjoy their company. But I’ll always remember the feeling of exhilaration, seeing all of the various artists nominated for making contributions that brought the productions to life, and the caliber that these productions were delivering.  In a word, it really inspired hope – that this relatively new love I had discovered was something worth pursuing. 

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?

I have a particular adoration for Neil Patrick Harris as the host of the ceremony. I think in his time as the host he’s always known when to be comical and featured, and when it’s necessary to step out of the spotlight to provide praise and support to the productions and people that are being celebrated.  Neil Patrick Harris was also a public role model for the LGBTQ community at a time in my life when I was searching for my own identity.  So while I have great admiration for him, I also have tremendous respect for other hosts who have used this honor to reach out to their own communities. 

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?

In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland High School mass shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Drama students were invited to the stage to sing ’Seasons of Love’ by Jonathan Larson. It was a heartfelt moment that acknowledged the very same hope and community I felt when I first became a theatre artist.  As an arts educator myself, I wholeheartedly believe that seeking and cultivating change begins at the entry point to industries; and in our industry, this begins by nurturing young artists as they are discovering theatre and their own artistry. This performance was a brief moment where the Broadway community shared their own national spotlight to reach out to local communities everywhere with their support and strength.

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?

Broadway shows carry a message of their own that are able to reach far and wide through the retelling of their stories and music.  But the Tony Awards offer a rare opportunity for the general public to hear directly from the people who create those works and compose those messages.  Lin Manuel Miranda delivering his acceptance speech for Best Original Score in 2016 was a raw and heartfelt moment. The fact that he was able to deliver such a powerful address on the very evening of the Orlando nightclub shooting spoke to his character and empathy for a community in mourning.    

What is one play or musical you would like to sound design on Broadway, and why?

Ragtime. Without a doubt.  Every contribution to this production on its own is beautiful, and collectively it has the potential to be breathtaking.  Ahrens and Flaherty wrote a truly beautiful complex symphony of both storytelling and musicality, and this musical brings audiences back to the hope that we all once felt when beginning to pursue the things we are passionate about.  I also think that these are the types of stories that need to be told so that they can resonate and be reflected upon in today’s cultural climate.  I love being able to design and be a part of the storytelling for any new production that challenges the status quo. Honestly, anything that holds a mirror up to society deserves to be celebrated.  


The Best Theater District Restaurants

Whether you’re cramming in a few more shows before this year’s Tony Awards (reminder: June 11th!), entertaining friends from out-of-town, or just in need of a good meal in Midtown, here are five quality restaurants in the Theater District, hand-picked by the Broadway’s Best Shows editorial team. All five wait staffs will get you to your 7 or 8 o’clock curtain in time if you ask. We highly recommend reserving tables in advance.

La Masseria

This Theater District mainstay opened in 2004, and is more elegant and a little less chaotic than other red sauce joints in the neighborhood, while still being great for families or groups. Try the Capri-style ravioli di angelina or the i cucuzielli fritti alla Chef Pino, a.k.a. the chef’s specialty fried zucchini. 

235 W 48th St (between Broadway and 8th.) Reservations available by phone or email here. 

The Lambs Club

The Lambs Club was formerly the home of a private club for actors and performers, and the decor might make you feel dropped into an episode of Mad Men. Chef Jack Logue offers a three-course pre theater menu for $75, or you might try the baroque-ish “Stanford White burger” with Gruyere and pickled onion. 

132 W 44th st (between 6th and 7th.) Reservations on Resy


This nearly one hundred year old institution is so old school it even has a dress code (no tank tops, sports jerseys, or hats) but the menu isn’t tired at all. The name of the game here is the steaks, which you can see carefully aging through a storefront window on 52nd. Again, not a spot for a light meal! Try to save room for the pecan pie a la mode. 

228 W 52nd (between Broadway and 8th.) Reservations on OpenTable. 


Situated in a former Astor mansion, the luxurious Barbetta is the oldest restaurant in New York to still be owned by the family that opened it, way back in 1906. The menu features delicacies from the Peimonte region of Northwest Italy. If you arrive for the pre-theatre pre fixe menu early enough, you might be able to score a table in the restaurant’s jaw dropping back patio – it’s first come, first serve. The menu notes the year each dish was added to the repertoire, like the minestrone soup, made using the same recipe they used on opening day in 1906.

321 W 46th (between 8th and 9th.) Reservations here

The Mermaid Inn

The Mermaid Inn might be best known as a stylish and unpretentious cocktails and oysters bar, and their raw selections and happy hour options are excellent. For those who prefer their crustaceans cooked, they offer Manhattan’s best lobster roll. Be sure to try their french fries seasoned with Old Bay spice mix. The Inn also has locations in Greenwich Village and Chelsea, and will soon reopen on the Upper West Side at Columbus and 76th. 

127 W 43rd (between Broadway and 6th.) Reservations on OpenTable

We would be remiss not to mention:

Sardi’s and Joe Allen

We’ll never reveal just how much of our “Broadway’s Best Kept Secrets” newsletter feature comes from overheard conversations at Sardi’s and Joe Allen. The caricatures lining the walls at Sardi’s have become so famous that sometimes we need a reminder that they also serve food there– particularly classic the spinach cannelloni. Joe Allen stays open late for an after-theater burger, and you can eye the posters of flop shows while you gossip and eat. 

Sardi’s, 234 W 44th (between Broadway and 8th.) Reservations on OpenTable

Joe Allen, 326 W 46th (between 8th and 9th, across the street from Barbetta.) Reservations on OpenTable



Meet Tom Kitt, the Tony-nominated composer of this season’s ALMOST FAMOUS.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt earns his seventh Tony nomination with ALMOST FAMOUS. He shares his nomination with co-lyricist and book writer Cameron Crowe, who also wrote the original film. 

Kitt won his two Tonys, as well as a Pulitzer Prize, for composing and orchestrating NEXT TO NORMAL with lyricist Brian Yorkey. He has also been nominated for orchestrating SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and JAGGED LITTLE PILL, and for composing IF/THEN and FLYING OVER SUNSET. He won an Emmy for composing the 2013 Tony Awards opening number with Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a Grammy for the JAGGED LITTLE PILL original Broadway cast album. 

Get to know more about this Broadway musical stalwart with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination?

The first text I received was from my friend Sarah Levine Hall who is a producer on the Tony Awards.  I was watching my son’s percussion recital, and I briefly checked my phone and saw that she had sent me a hand clap emoji.

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?

This is a hard question to answer as there is so much brilliant work on Broadway this season, but personal favorite would be my friend Annaleigh Ashford whose work in Sweeney Todd is virtuosic in every way.

Top restaurant in the theater district?

Joe Allen is my go-to.  Love the food, the ambience, and the “High Fidelity” poster.

The first Broadway show you ever saw?

Peter Pan with Sandy Duncan.

When did you decide to become a theater artist?

It was when I was at Columbia University as an undergrad.  My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) Rita Pietropinto introduced me to another student named Brian Yorkey and we began writing shows together, dreaming of someday getting to Broadway.

What is your earliest Tonys memory?

My earliest memory is of me convincing my mom to let me stay up past my bedtime to watch the show with her and my sister.  We couldn’t wait for the performances of the musicals we were constantly singing songs from.

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?

This would be a tie between Neil Patrick Harris and James Corden, because they both entrusted me with the great honor of co-writing the opening number for them.  Also, special shoutout to my friend Ariana DeBose who was incredible last year.

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?

It would be “Bigger,” the opening number that I wrote with Lin-Manuel Miranda for Neil Patrick Harris in 2013.  It was the first time I had ever done anything like that, and it was so gargantuan and terrifying.  And then on the telecast, everything clicked, and it was truly magical.  To this day, I marvel at what the entire team (Neil especially) was able to pull off and how emotional it all makes me feel.

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?

For me, it would be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech in 2016 for Hamilton, where his “love is love is love” rallying cry was a direct call for humanity to rise above the hate and violent acts that divide us, and for artists to continue to find the melodies that bring us into harmony.

What is one play or musical you would like to adapt or revive on Broadway, and why?

I would love to explore an adaptation of Sam Shepherd’s play, “True West” as a musical.  It would be exciting to see Shepherd’s indelible characters and rich dialogue become songs, maybe in an alt-country feel.


TONY TALK: Jessica Hecht

Meet Jessica Hecht, the Tony-nominated actress from this season’s two-hander SUMMER, 1976, in which she stars opposite Laura Linney.

SUMMER, 1976. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Hecht is one of our most versatile and gifted theater artists, with Broadway credits dating back to 1997, when she starred in the Tony-winning play THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO. This year’s marks her second Tony nomination, after being recognized for her work in 2010’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. Additional Broadway appearances include BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, among several others.

Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Joan Marcus

She has appeared many times on the New York stage throughout her career, including this season’s LETTERS FROM MAX by Sarah Ruhl at Signature Theatre Company. She is also known for her television roles on Friends, Breaking Bad, and Special, for which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, among others.

Get to know this New York theater icon with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination? 

I texted Laura Linney to express how indebted I am to her.

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?

I loved David Zayas in Cost of Living.

Top restaurant in the theater district? 

I like Bond 45 for the incredible Antipasto…Also I met Todd Haimes there several times and it now holds these memories of him.

The first Broadway show you ever saw?

Shenandoah!! Which I saw in 1976! I went with my class from middle school in Bloomfield, CT. It was a revelation!

When did you decide to become a theater artist?
While at Connecticut College, I met the great Morris Carnovsky and he was so devoted to the work he had done in the Group Theatre and I was awed by him and just followed him around like a puppy and he told me to go to New York and Study with Stella Adler and I never looked back.

What is your earliest Tonys memory?
Well I think being at the live awards for The Last Night of Ballyhoo…and having our play win for Best Play…as we sat in the nosebleed seats (in a dress I borrowed from magnificent Dana Ivey!) has become my earliest adult memory…and it just trumps all other memories.

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why? 

Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick made you feel like you were on the inside of some delicious joke in a familiar and true, “this is our time” way that was thrilling.

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?

Hamilton… Come on… 🙂

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?

Danny Burstein. So genuine, so simple. It was ultimately a love note to the community from him …and Becca.

What is one play or musical you would like to perform on Broadway, and why?

Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss would be a dream to do on Broadway. It’s equally theatrical and intimate …ingeniously so. I’d also do anything by Tennessee Williams of course….for much the same reason as Stage Kiss….Isn’t that the thrill? To be both wonderfully theatrical and steadily real. 

Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of SUMMER, 1976 is running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, currently scheduled through June 18, 2023.


TONY TALK: Audra McDonald

Meet Audra McDonald, the Tony-nominated star of this season’s OHIO STATE MURDERS.

OHIO STATE MURDERS. Photo by Richard Termine.

A bona fide Broadway star, Audra McDonald is the only actress to have been recognized in all four acting categories. This year, she is nominated for the 10th time for her performance as Suzanne Alexander in Adrienne Kennedy’s OHIO STATE MURDERS. The production marked Adrienne Kennedy’s Broadway debut at the age of 91, and was directed by Kenny Leon.

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS. Photo by Michael J. Lutch.

Of her 13 Broadway outings, some of her most notable include CAROUSEL (1994), MASTER CLASS (1996), RAGTIME (1998), A RAISIN IN THE SUN (2004), THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS (2012), and LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL (2014), all of which won her Tony Awards for her performances.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday for LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL (Photo by Warwick Saint)

Get to know more about this Broadway icon with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination?
I was on the train heading to the city for rehearsal, and my friend sent me a video message of his son saying “Hi Auntie Audra, congratulations on your Tony nomination!” That’s how I found out.

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?
I was bowled over by “Fat Ham”. I thought it was an incredible adaptation and I was truly blown away.

Top restaurant in the theater district?
It’s just south of the Theater District, but Boqueria – incredible tapas!

The first Broadway show you ever saw?
Starlight Express

When did you decide to become a theater artist?
When I was 9 years old, the first time I stepped on the stage in my dinner theater in Fresno, California. I felt such electricity and the sense that was where I belonged. I felt normal for the first time in my life.

What is your earliest Tonys memory?
One of my earliest Tonys memories was being in the elevator heading to the stage for “Carousel” to rehearse our number and running into Sally Mayes. She had just come from rehearsal for their number, she was starring in the revival of “She Loves Me” and we both had nominations in the same category. I didn’t know her very well, but we saw each other, fell into each other’s arms, gave each other the biggest hug and said, “have the most amazing night!” It was my first sense of true camaraderie with performers and theater makers. I learned in the end, it’s all a lovefest.

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?
Rosie O’Donnell always did a wonderful job. With Rosie, it was about the love of the community and musical theater. She gave so much support to the theater with her TV show. There was such a love and an ease, and she hosted with awe and joy.

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?
There are so many amazing performances, but what comes to my mind is Jennifer Holiday’s ‘And I Am Telling You’ from “Dreamgirls.”

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?
I remember being incredibly moved by Billy Porter’s speech when he won for “Kinky Boots” declaring “this is who I am.” He spoke about his mother not necessarily understanding who he was but loving him anyway and her acceptance. She was there for him and nurtured him so he could grow to be his best self. His love for his mother in that moment and honoring her in that way was intensely moving.

What is one play or musical you would like to perform on Broadway, and why?
The answer is all of them, because I love Broadway so much.


Groundbreaking Musicals of the 20th Century and Their Film Adaptations

by Katie Devin Orenstein

Over a hundred years of evolution have transformed vaudeville, burlesque, and operetta into the mature art form we know today as musical theater. Certain shows in particular pushed the artform forward, deepening the nuance, complexity, and depth of musical content and form. Yet, interestingly enough, these unusual musicals did not have the same transformative impact on cinema, and most have become footnotes to their grander Broadway successes. Below are some of the musicals that transformed the medium, and their film adaptations. 

Show Boat

1927’s Show Boat was the first musical to explore dark, socially relevant themes. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein innovated the musical melodrama, with a story about workers on a Mississippi River steamship that deals with gambling, alcoholism, racism, and in particular, anti-miscegenation laws. It might not seem novel today, but in the 1920s, Broadway musicals were exclusively comedies, with shoestring plots just to tie the songs and comic business together, if they had plots at all. The musical opened December 27th, 1927 at the former Ziegfeld Theatre, has been revived on Broadway multiple times, and is perhaps best known for the song “Ol Man River.”

Show Boat was adapted into a movie not once, not twice, but thrice: by Universal Studios in 1929 and 1936, and by MGM in 1951, in Technicolor. 

Ava Gardner sings “Bill” in the Show Boat 1951 film.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Porgy & Bess broke new ground in part because it was written as an opera, not a musical. Its Broadway premiere at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon) on October 10th, 1935 was because its composer, George Gershwin, wanted to “appeal to the many rather than the cultured few,” as he wrote in an essay in the New York Times in 1936. The result is a groundbreaking “folk opera” (Gershwin’s words) about Black Americans that fuses operatic structures and musical theatre conventions like dance breaks and humorous subplots. For decades it was the only opera written for Black performers. While its lush romantic score has made it a mainstay in opera houses around the world, its story of drug addiction, rape, and murder features many negative stereotypes about Black people. Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who adapted the show’s book for the 2012 Broadway revival, loved the music, and tried to “make the story just as great.”

It was adapted into a movie in 1959 with a stacked cast of Black Hollywood and Broadway trailblazers like Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey, and Diahann Carroll, with Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the title roles. It was to be legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn’s final film. (The Goldwyn family has something of an affinity for groundbreaking musicals—Samuel’s grandson Tony Goldwyn is co-directing the upcoming Pal Joey revival.)

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis perform “I Loves You, Porgy” from the 2012 Broadway revival.

Pal Joey

When Pal Joey opened at the Barrymore Theatre on Christmas Day 1940 it introduced something alien to the musical theater canon: cynicism. In the love triangle between a charming and slimy nightclub singer named Joey, his wide-eyed paramour Linda, and his rich, and married, lover Vera, no one ends up together in the end. Joey starts and ends the show a scoundrel, making him Broadway’s first anti-hero (Show Boat’s tragic couple reunite at the end, and Bess dies in Porgy’s arms. Joey gets out of his misdeeds unscathed but utterly alone.) Lorenz Hart’s witty, suggestive lyrics got now-classics like “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” shunned from radio broadcast in 1940. 

In this clip from the heavily sanitized Pal Joey film, Rita Hayworth performs “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” with the singing voice of Jo Ann Greer.

Notice the lyric discrepancies between the movie and this clip of Patti LuPone singing Hart’s original lyrics:

A group of people dancing

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the Rogers and Hammerstein Organization


Hammerstein wrote the lyrics for Show Boat, Rodgers composed Pal Joey; their first collaboration was guaranteed to be fascinating. On March 31st, 1943, at the St. James Theatre, Rodgers and Hammerstein opened the first musical to use music and dance not just to entertain but to tell the story: Oklahoma, a tragic yet hopeful fable of community cohesion and romantic desire in rural America. Agnes de Mille’s choreography was particularly innovative, staging farm girl Laurie’s inner torment and indecision as a dream ballet. Oklahoma’s incredibly sophisticated integration of text, music, choreography, and design created the modern musical form, influencing everything from My Fair Lady to Hamilton, Dreamgirls to A Strange Loop, and everything in between

Like Show Boat, Porgy & Bess, and Pal Joey, Oklahoma was made into a film in the 1950s. As with Joey, some sexually suggestive lyrics were excised, in order to abide by the Hayes Code, a conservative set of rules all film studios followed at the time. 

Compare the original text of “Kansas City”

With the film version:

Watch Tony-nominated choreographer John Heginbotham’s version of the “Dream Ballet” for the 2019 Oklahoma revival. Just like in the 1943 original, Laurie departs the stage and a dancer represents her inner psyche:

A Chorus Line

Backstage stories like Show Boat, Pal Joey, and Kiss Me Kate have been a constant presence on Broadway, but none have been as raw or honest as A Chorus Line. The first musical to be developed through a series of workshops, A Chorus Line set the industry standard, although basing the story on the actors’ life experiences remains unusual. It was also the first musical to run for over 10 years on Broadway. Streamlining the plot to just one afternoon cattle call audition for the chorus of an unnamed show, A Chorus Line might be most innovative in its seeming simplicity. Every character has the same objective: they “really need this job,” as Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban’s peripatetic score explains to us in the opening number. 

The 1985 film adaptation was directed by Richard Attenborough, and did not have the success that the stage show did. 

Donna McKechnie performs “The Music & The Mirror” in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Slipping between dialogue and singing like this was pioneered by Oklahoma, as was choreographers Michael Bennett and Bob Avian’s ability to visualize Cassie’s pain and ambition through dance.


TONY TALK: Casey Nicholaw

Meet Casey Nicholaw, the Director-Choreographer of SOME LIKE IT HOT!

Nicholaw is double-nominated at this year’s Tony Awards, for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography, accounting for two of the show’s 13 nominations (the most of any production this season!). This year’s additions also bring his personal Tony nominations to 13 – he won his Tony in 2011 for his direction of THE BOOK OF MORMON.

Two people standing in a room with pictures on the wall

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Photo by Marc J Franklin

A mainstay of the Main Stem, Nicholaw launched his Broadway career as a performer, appearing in eight shows including CRAZY FOR YOU, VICTOR / VICTORIA, SEUSSICAL, and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, before pivoting to the other side of the table. He has consistently worked as both a choreographer and director since choreographing SPAMALOT in 2005, helming the likes of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, ALL ABOUT ME, ELF, SOMETHING ROTTEN, MEAN GIRLS, and THE PROM, to name just a few.

Get to know more about this Broadway favorite with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination?
It was the best nomination morning that I’ve ever experienced. The cast of Some Like it Hot was waiting to perform on the Today Show when the nominations came in so we all got to experience hearing them together as a cast and screaming and crying and jumping around with joy!

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?
Vicki Clark in Kimberly Akimbo. Her performance is so funny and moving and heartbreaking and uplifting.

44 and X

Top restaurant in the theater district?
44 and X

The first Broadway show you ever saw?
Barnum with Jim Dale

When did you decide to become a theater artist?
When I did my first show at San Diego Junior Theater. I was in the chorus of Annie Get Your Gun and I was hooked.

What is your earliest Tonys memory?
My teen years were when I started watching and became obsessed. Watching the Tonys was the only chance to see numbers from the shows until they toured through LA or San Diego where I grew up. The big shows for me were Ain’t Misbehavin, Evita, Annie, A Chorus Line and The Wiz.

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?
Angela Lansbury, because she was Angela Lansbury

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?
As a kid I loved seeing Dorthy Loudon and Bob Fitch doing Easy Street – it was such a good number and perfect musical comedy.

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?
I somehow can still see Nell Carter’s face when she was so surprised that she won for Aint Misbehavin. It was so exciting!

What is one play or musical you would like to direct and/or choreograph on Broadway, and why?
I don’t know that I have one anymore – My list never changed for years, it was always Dreamgirls and Most Happy Fella, and I got to do Dreamgirls in London and Most Happy Fella at encores!

You can currently see Nicholaw’s direction and choreography in THE BOOK OF MORMON, ALADDIN, and of course, SOME LIKE IT HOT, currently running at the Shubert Theatre with a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, a book by Matthew Lòpez and Amber Ruffin, and starring Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee, and Adrianna Hicks.

He’s currently working on a musical adaptation of the 1972 film WHAT’S UP, DOC?, which is aimed for a Broadway run in the coming years!


Vintage Vibes but not Vintage Values

By Jim Glaub

The 2023 Tony Awards nominations are in, and this year’s shows reflect a growing interest in nostalgia, with many productions harking back to classic Broadway eras and themes. Some of the most notable examples include New York, New York, a musical set in the 1940s with all the makings of a classic Broadway show, and Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot, which stayed true to its original production and presented a big, beautiful revival. Other shows like & Juliet, Kimberly Akimbo, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street also incorporate nostalgic elements, using the music and vibes of the ’90s, classic Broadway comedy, and Golden Age musicals as inspiration.

One reason for this trend towards nostalgia is the growing interest in it among younger audiences. According to a study by JWT Intelligence, Gen Z is increasingly interested in nostalgia, with 82% of them saying that they enjoy retro design and 77% saying that they enjoy old-fashioned experiences. This trend is reflected in the success of shows like Some Like It Hot, which is based on the classic film and harkens back to the Golden Age of musical comedies.

But it’s not just about looking back – this year’s Tony nominees also highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in theater. Many of the shows are written by diverse playwrights, including James Ijames, Lolita Chakrabarti, Jordan E Cooper, and Martyna Majok. And book writers like Amber Ruffin and Sharon Washington bring unique perspectives to their works, adding to the richness and depth of the stories being told.

Some of the most diverse shows this year include Ain’t No Mo’, a play that explores the Black American experience, and Prima Facie, a powerful drama about sexual assault and the legal system. A Doll’s House, which reimagines Ibsen’s classic play with a contemporary twist, and Cost of Living, a poignant exploration of disability and relationships, are also among the nominees.

Overall, this year’s Tony Awards nominations reflect a fascinating mix of nostalgia and diversity, showcasing the rich history of Broadway while also pushing boundaries and bringing new voices to the forefront. It will be exciting to see which shows come out on top and what they have to say about the state of theater in 2023.


TONY TALK: Jennifer Weber

Meet Jennifer Weber, the choreographer of this season’s & JULIET and KPOP!

This is Jennifer Weber’s first season as a Broadway choreographer, and she’s off to an auspicious start—she’s landed Tony nominations, plural, for her work in & JULIET and KPOP. While a lifelong Broadway obsessive, as you’ll learn below, and cut her teeth choreographing TV commercials for brands like Marc Jacobs and American Express, and interdisciplinary dance pieces like A HIPHOP NUTCRACKER for Disney+ and PBS. For & JULIET, Weber was also nominated for an Olivier award for her combination of contemporary pop choreography and Shakespearean wit.

Learn more about Jennifer Weber with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nomination?

My Mom was the first person to text me after I got the nominations.  I think she said something like “Congrats, Call me later” and then my phone started exploding and it was many hours before I called her back.  I was absolutely in shock!  I feel like my Mom was way less surprised.  

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?

This is such an amazing year for dance on Broadway.  When I saw Casey’s work in Some Like it Hot I was so jealous I didn’t get to make an epic tap dance chase scene.  That’s how I know I really love something—when I’m jealous I didn’t get to do it.  That scene is just a brilliant piece of musical theater choreography– storytelling, comedy and showmanship all perfectly constructed.  I was blown away.  Susan’s work in New York, New York is classic Broadway beauty.  I’ve been such a big fan of her ever since Contact.  That show had a big impact on me and the potential for dance to tell stories without spoken text.   And I have to really shout out Steven Hoggett whose work I first saw in London when I was doing study abroad in college.   His use of physical vocabulary and magical visuals in storytelling was my main inspiration to start off on my journey into theatrical choreography.  I was lucky enough to take a three-day workshop with him in London many years ago and that’s the only actual choreography training I’ve ever had. I learned so much during that experience.   I hope I’m now his star student!

Top restaurant in the theater district?

Although it’s a little out of the way I love B Side Pizza Bar.  When I was working on KPOP at Ars Nova it was my staple.  The kale salad and zucchini noodles are incredible.

The first Broadway show you ever saw?

The first Broadway show I saw was A Chorus Line.  I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, but my parents were ex-NY’ers and took me to a lot of theater as a kid.  I think I was about 8 or 9 when I saw A Chorus Line and it made me fall in love with theater.  All the music, all the dancing, all the gold costumes, I just loved everything about it.  I had no idea that was a job—it just seemed like magic.  

When did you decide to become a theater artist?

I don’t know if I decided to become a theater artist, but I love working in theatre and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this fabulous Broadway community.  My journey to theater was very roundabout.  I was never in a musical and I’ve never worked as an assistant or associate choreographer.  I came from working in concert and commercial dance. I love working in different mediums so I can take things I’ve learned creating one type of choreography and apply it in another arena.  

What is your earliest Tonys memory?

My earliest Tony memory is probably the 1994 Tonys and watching the cast of Damn Yankees rock the stage. I was in high school and had gotten really, really into dance.  I recorded the Tonys that year and taught myself all of Rob Marshall’s choreography to “Shoeless Joe.”  If asked, I absolutely can still do a few of the 8 counts from that number.   I just re-watched that number and it totally holds up. 

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?

I thought Ariana DeBose did a really great job.  Triple threats make great hosts.  

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?

My all-time favorite Tony performance.  Ok this is obscure, but the 1999 cast of Footloose performing the title song.  I used to take dance class at Broadway Dance Center with AC Ciulla who was Tony-nominated for choreographing that show.  I was super shy so I always hung out in the back and never talked to him, but a lot of the people who were often in the front of his classes ended up in the Footloose cast.  I think that was the first time I recognized people who I had danced in a room with on TV.  It blew my mind.  I also recorded that performance and learned it.  

Most memorable Tonys acceptance speech, and why?

Savion Glover when he won for Bring in Da Noise Bring in Da Funk.  I clearly remember him going up and simply saying “Big ups to my peeps” and then leaving.  His absolute coolness was next level. 

What is one play or musical you would like to choreograph on Broadway, and why?

My dream project—just putting it out there—is to put my own choreography twist on Guys and Dolls.  I can see it so clearly.  I love fusing worlds together, so I’d love to take on a real classic dance musical and give the choreography a very contemporary vibe while keeping all the sets and costumes in a classic vocabulary.  

& JULIET is currently running at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and earned nine Tony nominations, including Best Musical.


TONY TALK: Emilio Sosa

Meet Emilio Sosa, the veteran Broadway costume designer and double nominee at this year’s Tony Awards for his work on the plays AIN’T NO MO’ and GOOD NIGHT, OSCAR.

Ain’t No Mo’. Photo by Joan Marcus

Sosa’s costumes have been a fixture on Broadway for over 20 years, having designed 13 shows since his first credit in 2002, the original Broadway production of TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (revived this year in a new Tony-nominated production directed by Kenny Leon). He had already earned two Tony nominations prior to this year, for Best Costume Design of a Musical for THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS in 2012, and Best Costume Design of a Play for TROUBLE IN MIND last season (2022). 

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Good Night, Oscar. Photo by Joan Marcus

Sosa designed the costumes for an impressive five Broadway shows this season, including last fall’s 1776 and AIN’T NO MO’, and the currently running A BEAUTIFUL NOISE, THE NEIL DIAMOND MUSICAL; SWEENEY TODD; and GOOD NIGHT, OSCAR. 

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2012). Photos by Michael J. Lutch

Get to know this Broadway perennial with our TONY TALK Q&A:

Who was the first person to text/call you when you got the nominations?

My agent was the first person to call me to congratulate me on the nominations and then my phone alerts started going off nonstop. Soon after, I called my mother to share the good news.

Show some love to a fellow nominee this year. Whose work blew you away?

Crystal Lucas-Perry. I was honored to design for her for both Ain’t No Mo’ and 1776.

Top Restaurant in the Theatre District?

Glass House Tavern and Bond 45

The first Broadway show you ever saw?

A Chorus Line in 1986

When did you decide to become a theater artist?

When I met George C. Wolfe and he hired me to design Topdog / Underdog at the Public.

What is your earliest Tonys memory?

I remember when costume designer Ann Hould-Wald was nominated for Beauty & the Beast. I was working at Grace Costumes at the time and we made a lot of the costumes for the production. It truly was a formative experience.

Who’s your favorite Tonys host in history, and why?

Ariana DeBose brought a new energy to the telecast. And I worked with her on Motown when she was just starting in the business, so it’s a pleasure to see the growth and success.

All-time favorite Tonys performance on the telecast, and why?

Jennifer Holiday and Dreamgirls. The sheer emotions of her performance captivated me through the tv screen and still resonates today.

Most memorable Tony’s acceptance speech, and why?

Andre De Shields and his philosophy on life and success. He’s an ICON!

What is one play or musical you would like to costume design on Broadway and why?

Anything Jordan E. Cooper writes! His voice is much needed as Broadway expands its mind and ability to depict stories reflective of all cultures.

Next up for Sosa is the upcoming Broadway revival of PURLIE VICTORIOUS, directed by Kenny Leon and starring Leslie Odom Jr., set to hit Broadway later this year!

GOOD NIGHT, OSCAR is currently running at the Belasco Theatre, in a limited engagement starring Sean Hayes, also nominated for a Tony Award this year for his leading performance in the production. SWEENEY TODD is running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in a grand revival led by Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, both also nominated for their starring turns. A BEAUTIFUL NOISE, THE NEIL DIAMOND MUSICAL is at the Broadhurst Theatre, starring Will Swenson as the music icon.