Broadway celebrates a packed and varied theater season with the 2024 Tony Awards

The awards cap a Broadway theater season that has had something for everyone, from fun musicals like “Back to the Future” to sweeping romance in “The Notebook.”

Broadway celebrates a packed and varied theater season with the 2024 Tony Awards

NEW YORK — The 28 Broadway shows that earned at least one Tony Award nomination are hoping Sunday is the day the sealed envelopes break in their favor.

The three-hour main telecast from New York City's Lincoln Center will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a free pre-show on Pluto TV at 6:30 p.m.

‘A time of transformation’

The awards cap a Broadway theater season that had something for everyone — fun musicals like “Back to the Future,” sweeping romance in “The Notebook,” political rallying cries like “Suffs” and intimate ensembles like “Mother Play” and “Appropriate.” Filipinos took center stage in “Here Lies Love" and autism was explored in ”How to Dance in Ohio."

“I think it has been a year of real flexibility. I also think Broadway is in a time of transformation,” said Tonys host Ariana DeBose. “A total of 36 productions opened on Broadway this season alone and each one spoke to a very different audience. I do believe that we are learning, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ So we are continuing to find our voice and who Broadway wants to be.”

DeBose has said she expects the show to move “like a Broadway show” — in other words, briskly and with scene changes in front the audience. “We want to give you a full Broadway experience,” she said.

Nicole Scherzinger will anchor the “In Memoriam” section and the late Chita Rivera will get a separate tribute from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth.

Some key awards to watch

Two shows share the most nominations with 13: a piano prodigy’s coming-of-age in “Hell’s Kitchen” and the back-and-forth struggles to create a rock album in the play “Stereophonic.” They are competing in different categories, best new musical and best new play.

Of the 26 competitive categories, two are virtual locks: “Stereophonic,” a critical and box office triumph, and “Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim- George Furth musical that flopped when it premiered on Broadway in 1981 but is the strong favorite for best musical revival.

A case could also be made that ”Appropriate," Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play about a family reunion in Arkansas where everyone has competing motivations and grievances, will comfortably earn the best play revival award.

Looking to beat “Hell’s Kitchen” for the top new musical crown are “The Outsiders,” an adaptation of the beloved S. E. Hinton novel and Francis Ford Coppola film; “Illinoise,” the dance-heavy, dialogue-less stage adaptation of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album “Illinois”; “Suffs,” based on the American suffragists of the early 20th century; and “Water for Elephants,” which combines Sara Gruen’s 2006 bestseller with circus elements.

Hoping to knock down “Stereophonic” are “Mother Play,” Paula Vogel’s look at a mother and her kids spanning 1964 to the 21st century; “Mary Jane,” Amy Herzog’s humanistic portrait of a divorced mother of a young boy with severe health issues; “Prayer for the French Republic,” Joshua Harmon’s sprawling family comedy-drama that deals with Zionism, religious fervency and antisemitism; and “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” Jocelyn Bioh’s comedy about the lives of West African women working at a salon.

The leading actress in a musical race is between veteran Kelli O’Hara in “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Hell’s Kitchen” newcomer Maleah Joi Moon. On the play side, Sarah Paulson from “Appropriate” is expected to win the best lead actress trophy over a challenge by Jessica Lange in “Mother Play.”

On the men's side, former “Hamilton” standout Leslie Odom Jr. from “Purlie Victorious” is up against “Succession” star Jeremy Strong in the revival of “An Enemy of the People,” while Jonathan Groff is the favorite to win on the musical side for “Merrily We Roll Along,” competing against Eddie Redmayne in “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club” and Brian d’Arcy James from “Days of Wine and Roses.”

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