Tony Award nominations will be announced on May 2nd before the ceremony at the United Palace on June 11th. The categories of Best Play and Best Musical are highly competitive, and this week we’ve predicted the likely nominees and winner for the Best Play.
Best Play Major Contenders
Between Riverside and Crazy: Real estate got real in the wintertime limited engagement at the Helen Hayes that served as actor/rapper Common’s Broadway debut. Buoyed by a career-defining lead performance by Stephen McKinley Henderson as a retired police officer living in one of the last rent-controlled apartments on Riverside Drive, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning play came to Broadway timelier than ever, its main issues of racism and dealing with police brutality having become more relevant than ever.
Fat Ham: Another Public transfer, this Black, queer modernization of Hamlet comes into the Tony race with credentials: it is one of three new acclaimed plays this season that has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and it is the most recent winner of the Prize (as it won last year). Fat Ham doesn’t open until April 12 at the American Airlines, but early buzz indicates James Ijames’s play is a joyful yet deep, tense, and sometimes-heartbreaking experience.
Summer, 1976: Pulitzer Prize winning author David Auburn’s new play, starring Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht, began previews at MTC’s Samuel J. Freidman Theatre on April 4. While the show doesn’t open until the 25th, with this award-winning cast and creative team, including Tony Award winning Director Daniel Sullivan, this might be a last-minute contender.
Leopoldstadt: Without a doubt, Tom Stoppard’s chronicling of an extended family in the Austrian Jewish quarter from 1899 through World War II is amongst the best-selling new play of the season. Its limited engagement run at the Longacre has already been extended twice. It is a moving, humane tale of the Holocaust, which seems to be exactly the kind of play the Tonys have preferred to champion in years past. Its timeliness helps too, with anti-Semitic acts of hate on the rise throughout the country once again. A commercial and critical hit, Leopoldstadt might just be the one to beat.
Life of Pi: Remember Richard Parker, the adorable Royal Bengal tiger from Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi or the 2012 Oscar-winning motion picture of the same name? Well, he’s at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre now in all his glory, controlled by eight (!) puppeteers and aboard a lifeboat stranded at sea with teenaged Piscine Patel, played by Olivier winner Hiran Abeysekera. Life of Pi offers larger than life puppets and some of the most dazzling visual effects right now on Broadway. In a crowded Best Play category this year, this epic tale of survival just may have earned its stripes with a nomination.
Ain’t No Mo’: Jordan E. Cooper’s scathing series of comic vignettes set in a parallel universe in which Black Americans are offered one-way plane tickets to Africa received favorable reviews when it opened December 1 at the Belasco. What was supposed to be a two-and-a-half month run lasted only two-and-a-half weeks, before a five-day extension due to prominent celebrities buying out performances (the #saveAINTNOMO campaign). Though this Public Theatre transfer probably won’t win Best Play — it’s a very stacked category this year — a nomination could happen.
Cost of Living: MTC’s fall production of Martyna Majok’s 2018 Pulitzer Prize garnered a positive response from audiences and critics alike. Through the interconnected lives of four people in New Jersey, Cost of Living explores the struggles and systemic barriers individuals with disabilities face in daily life, including navigating relationships, employment, and healthcare. The show received praise for its narrative centering around the experience of disabled individuals. Directed by Jo Bonney, the production starred Kara Young, David Zayas, Gregg Mozgala, and Katy Sullivan. While the production concluded its run in November 2022, a nomination isn’t out of the question.
Pictures From Home: Starring Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein, and Zoë Wanamaker, Sharr White’s new play based on the photo memoir by photographer Larry Sultan will complete its limited engagement at Studio 54 on April 30. A touching and humorous portrait of an American family, Pictures From Home explores the relationship between Larry and his parents as he tries to capture the perfect picture.
Prima Facie: Recent Olivier Award winner Jodie Comer makes her Broadway debut in the highly anticipated West End transfer of Suzie Miller’s Prima Facie. Now in previews at the Golden Theatre, Prima Facie will open on April 23 for a 10-week limited engagement. Havin just won the 2023 Olivier Award for Best New Play, one shouldn’t count it out.
Goodnight Oscar: Currently in previews at the Belasco Theatre, Doug Wright’s new play will open on Broadway after a smash-hit run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes stars as wild card Oscar Levant, who explores the fine line between humor and heartbreak.