‘Slave Play’ Defines the 2020 Tony Nominations With an Astonishing 12 Nods

Annie McNamara and Sullivan Jones in Slave Play. Matthew Murphy

On Thursday, a rush of nominations for the truncated season’s Tony Awards were announced, revealing that talent and performance were still being recognized in a world gone mad. This year’s Tony Awards will pay homage to the 18 shows that opened between April 2019 and February of 2020, including Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge! The Musical and Tina — The Tina Turner Musical. However, certainly the most thrilling news to come out of this year’s Tony nominations is the fact that Slave Play, the debut Broadway play by Jeremy O. Harris about unpacking the trauma of chattel slavery between interracial couples, earned 12 nominations, making it the most-nominated play in the history of the Tony Awards.

Additionally, the new Alanis Morissette-inspired musical Jagged Little Pill earned 15 nominations, the most of any show from the prematurely-cut-short 2019-20 Broadway season. Moulin Rouge! The Musical received 14 nominations, and Tina — The Tina Turner Musical also received a nomination for Best Musical. However, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, the only musical in this past season that was produced with an original score, was completely panned by critics and reviled by audiences; the show ultimately received zero nominations. The revival of A Soldier’s Play, a 1981 play about racism in the United States military, ultimately received seven Tony nominations, garnering the most nominations out of any revived play.

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Ever since Slave Play came out last fall, the production has both commanded the cultural conversation and opened up new chances for audiences who haven’t traditionally engaged with expensive Broadway theater to begin to engage with it. This is largely due to the playwright’s efforts to offer tickets to large audiences at discounted prices. In addition to Slave Play‘s triumph, the play The Inheritance, which is about the aftermath of the AIDS crisis and its effects on gay men in contemporary society, earned 11 Tony Award nominations.