NEW YORK – The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbs Alanis Morissette's 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, earned a leading 15 Tony Award nominations Thursday, as the Broadway community took the first steps to celebrate a pandemic-shortened season that upended the theater world.
There are three best musical nominees: “Jagged Little Pill,” “Moulin Rouge: The Musical” and “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.” And there are five best play nominees: “Grand Horizons,” “The Inheritance,” “Sea Wall/A Life,” “Slave Play” and “The Sound Inside.”
Tom Kitt, honored for orchestrations for “Jagged Little Pill,” thanked Morissette and his collaborators, but also graciously nodded to the more than a dozen shows that were unable to open due to the pandemic.
“I also want to acknowledge all of the shows that were not able to open, so today I'm thinking of all of the great artists who were supposed to be a part of the '19-'20 season, and I can't wait to see all of their beautiful work when Broadway returns,” he said in a statement.
Nipping on the heels of “Jagged Little Pill” for overall numbers of nominations is “Moulin Rouge!,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, that got 14 nods.
“It's definitely bittersweet,” said Carmen Pavlovic, a lead producer of “Moulin Rouge!”
“It's obviously not the year any of us imagined. At the same time I feel honored to have the opportunity to be part of such a history-making moment – I think we will all remember this year for many decades to come.”
Two very different offerings are tied with 12: “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical,” which tells the rock icon's life with songs that include “Let's Stay Together” and “Proud Mary,” and “Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris' ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class. The dozen nods make “Slave Play” the most nominated play in Tony history.
“The Inheritance” by Matthew Lopez nabbed 11 nominations. It's a two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
“Theater, at its best, helps call us to those better instincts of our nature. I look forward to the day we can all return safely, joyfully to those sacred spaces and to tell each other stories of our lives and of our nation,” Lopez said.
The nominations were pulled from just 18 eligible plays and musicals, a fraction of the 34 shows the season before.
During most years, there are 26 competitive categories; this year there are just 25 with several depleted ones.
The category for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical had just one actor – Aaron Tveit from “Moulin Rouge!” One category – best musical revival – had no eligible shows at all and was cut.
Pavlovic joked that Tveit deserved the Tony because he's “in a class all of his own anyway.” She added: “It's his moment, for sure.”