Three acting veterans were part of the parade of Black presence in Tuesday’s Tony Award nominations, which recognize the best talent and productions on Broadway.
Wendell Pierce, who has won a Tony for producing “Clybourne Park,” earned his first nomination as an actor on Broadway for a blistering revival of “Death of a Salesman.” Pierce will face-off against both stars of Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” — Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Corey Hawkins — as well as former “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes from “Good Night, Oscar,” and Stephen McKinley Henderson, who earned his second nomination, having gotten one in 2019 for “Fences.”
Audra McDonald, the reigning queen of best leading actress, was nominated for her searing performance in “Ohio State Murders.” McDonald can extend her reign if she beats Jodie Comer, the three-time Emmy nominated star of “Killing Eve.”
Samuel L. Jackson earned his first Tony nod for “August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.”
Tony-winning stage and screen director Kenny Leon tweeted congratulations to all the nominees. “Let’s keep telling everybody’s story,” he posted.
“Some Like it Hot,” with its racially diverse cast, waltzed away Tuesday with a leading 13 Tony Award nominations, putting the spotlight on a show that is a sweet, full-hearted embrace of trans rights. The show follows two musician friends who disguise themselves as women and join an all-girl band to flee Chicago after witnessing a mob hit.
In the best new play category, a nod went out to “Fat Ham,” James Ijames’ Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” set at a Black family’s barbecue in the modern South. Also nominated in that category was “Ain’t No Mo,’” the short-lived but critical applauded work by playwright and actor Jordan E. Cooper. In “Ain’t No Mo,” the United States government emails every Black citizen with the offer of a free plane ticket to Africa and each scene explores how various personalities respond to the offer.
Overall, “Ain’t No Mo” earned six nominations.
Justin Cooley was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in “Kimberly Akimbo.”
Ariana DeBose will host the June 11 awards celebration from New York City’s United Palace theater live on CBS and on Paramount+. It is her second-straight stint as host.