Tony and Drama Desk 2019 noms: Blacks are beautifully recognized!

Linda Armstrong | 5/9/2019, 3:48 p.m.
The Tony nominations are out for the 73rd annual Tony Awards, and Black talent is definitely acknowledged.
'Hadestown'

The Tony nominations are out for the 73rd annual Tony Awards, and Black talent is definitely acknowledged. The fabulous theater icon and legend Andre Deshields is nominated for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical for “Hadestown,” where he plays the god Hades, as is his co-star Amber Gray, who plays Persephone, nominated for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical. The new musical is actually leading the Tony nominations with 14 nominations including best musical. “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” has Tony nominations for best book of a musical for Dominique Morisseau; Derrick Baskin for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical; two nominations for best performance by a featured actor in a musical for Jeremy Pope and Ephraim Sykes; and Harold Wheeler is up for best orchestrations. The musical is coming in second for the most nominations with a total of 12 that include

best musical.

“Tootsie,” an absolutely hilarious new musical comedy that has 11 Tony nominations, proved to be a marvelous vehicle for African-American actress Lilli Cooper, who is up for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical. Believe me, she is wonderful in the musical.

“Choir Boy” has a best play nomination and a well-deserved one for Tarell Alvin McCraney. It also has Jeremy Pope, yes, the same Jeremy Pope up for the featured role for “Ain’t Too Proud,” but now he is up for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play. Yes, he is a very versatile young man and his performance in “Choir Boy,” which he did off and on Broadway, was incredibly powerful! Camille A. Brown is up for best choreography for “Choir Boy.”

George C. Wolfe is nominated for best direction of a play for “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.” Toni-Leslie James is nominated for best costume design of a play for “Bernhardt/Hamlet.”

The Tonys will be broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall, June 9. I can’t wait.

Broadway and off-Broadway Black productions, actors and technicians are being recognized with nominations for the 64th annual Drama Desk Awards for their outstanding work. I was thrilled to see that “Carmen Jones,” presented by Classic Stage Company, is nominated for outstanding revival of a musical. The best aspect of this musical is that it featured an-all Black cast, and these cast members were heavy-weights in talent. Anika Noni Rose is nominated for outstanding actress in a musical, and Soara-Joye Ross is up for featured actress in a musical. Looking at outstanding book of a musical, Dominique Morisseau has distinguished herself by receiving a nomination for “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life And Times of the Temptations.”

I don’t know if you had the opportunity to experience “The Peculiar Patriot,” presented by the National Black Theatre/Hi-Arts. It was about the injustices happening to Blacks in the prison system and was a brilliant work—written and performed by Liza Jessie Peterson, and she is nominated for outstanding solo performance. I was over joyed to read that.

For the play “Boesman and Lena,” Zainab Jah is nominated for outstanding actress in a play. Rebecca Naomi Jones is up for outstanding actress in a musical for the Broadway production of “Oklahoma.” Harriet D. Foy is nominated for outstanding featured actress in a play for “The House That Will Not Stand.” In the category of outstanding featured actor in a musical we have two phenomenal African-American performers who have been nominated: Corbin Bleu for his delightful performance in “Kiss Me Kate,” and Andre DeShields for his dazzling performance in “Hadestown.” Both these Broadway musicals are very much worth seeing.

Nominated for outstanding choreography is Camille A. Brown for her amazing work on “Choir Boy.”

Costume designer Toni-Leslie James is nominated for outstanding costume design for a play for “Bernhardt/Hamlet.”Dede M. Ayite is nominated for outstanding costume design for a play for two productions—“By The Way, Meet Vera Stark,” and “If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be A Muhfucka.”

The Drama Desk Awards will happen Sunday, June 2 at 8 p.m. at The Town Hall in Manhattan.