Shows about the Holocaust and a notorious American antisemitic incident picked up several Tony Award nominations on May 2, as Broadway’s biggest honors made room for a sizable Jewish presence.
Most notably, a revival of the 1998 musical “Parade,” starring Ben Platt as the early-20th-century Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank, scored six nominations, including best revival of a musical and a best actor nod for Platt. Jewish lead actress Micaela Diamond also scored a nomination for playing Leo’s wife Lucille, causing awards presenter Lea Michele to squeal with glee (pun intended) as she read Diamond’s name at the livestreamed nominations ceremony.
Arriving during a heightened moment of national awareness about antisemitism, “Parade” attracted notice early in its Broadway run when a performance was picketed by neo-Nazis.
That incident led to an outpouring of support from Broadway’s Jewish community. Platt himself arrived at last week’s Met Gala wearing a Star of David necklace, further driving home the show’s message.
“Leopoldstadt,” Tom Stoppard’s epic, a highly personal play about multiple generations of a Jewish Viennese family before, during and after the Holocaust, also received six nominations, including an expected nod for best play. Brandon Uranowitz also earned a nod for best actor in a featured role in a play, and Patrick Marber scored a best direction nomination; both are Jewish.
Signs were more mixed for another high-profile Jewish production, “The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window,” which eked out two nominations, including best revival of a play. The show, first written by Lorraine Hansberry in 1964 shortly before her death, follows a Jewish bohemian grappling with political and social change in Greenwich Village. It had not been staged on Broadway since its initial run. Neither of its A-list stars, Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan, earned acting nominations, though Miriam Silverman did receive the show’s lone other nomination for her featured role as Isaac’s character’s sister-in-law — who is casually antisemitic.
Besides “Parade,” the musical revival category was dominated by shows with Jewish roots. Also nominated was a new version of the 1960 classic “Camelot,” billed as “Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot” in recognition of the two Jewish Broadway scribes who crafted the initial production, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Written by Aaron Sorkin, who is Jewish, and directed by Bartlett Sher, who learned as a teenager that his father was Jewish, the new “Camelot” had five nominations in total.
Two reinterpretations of Stephen Sondheim standards, “Into The Woods” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” rounded out the category. The pop singer Josh Groban, whose father was Jewish before converting to his mother’s Christianity, was nominated for playing the lead role in “Sweeney Todd,” while Julia Lester, whose great-grandfather was part of a Yiddish theater in Poland, was nominated for her featured role in “Into the Woods.”
The play “Good Night, Oscar,” about the Jewish entertainer Oscar Levant’s struggles with mental illness, picked up three nominations, including for lead actors Sean Hayes and Rachel Hauck. “Death of a Salesman,” a new revival of the classic play by Jewish playwright Arthur Miller, also picked up two nominations.
Jewish actress Jessica Hecht picked up an acting nomination for her lead role in the play “Summer, 1976,” about a lifelong friendship between two women. Hecht is up against several star performers in the category, including Jessica Chastain, Jodie Comer and Audra McDonald.
Among the other nominees was a modern-day musical reimagining of “Some Like It Hot,” the 1959 cross-dressing comedy. The original movie had plenty of Jewish talent: It was directed by Billy Wilder, co-starred Tony Curtis and Jewish convert Marilyn Monroe, and featured recently deceased Jewish character actor Nehemiah Persoff in a small role. The new musical, by Amber Ruffin and Matthew López, led the pack with 13 Tony nominations including best new musical. Veteran Jewish songwriter Marc Shaiman picked up a nomination for co-writing the show’s score.
Another new musical based on a movie, “New York, New York,” also built off of Jewish talent: the songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote the music for the original 1977 film, and Kander is co-credited with Lin-Manuel Miranda for additional music on the new film. “New York, New York” received nine nominations, including best new musical.
The prolific Jewish theater composer Jeanine Tesori had another Broadway hit this year with the musical “Kimberly Akimbo,” which received eight nominations, including one for her music.
The nominations were co-announced by Michele, who has been the talk of Broadway since she replaced Beanie Feldstein as the lead of the “Funny Girl” revival. Feldstein was snubbed at the Tonys last year amid tepid reviews for her performance in the musical about Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice.
The Tonys will air on CBS and various Paramount-owned streaming services on June 11.