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Tonys: 12-Time Nominee ‘Slave Play’ Shut Out in Surprise


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Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play made history when the nominations for the 2021 Tony Awards, celebrating the shortened 2019-2020 Broadway season, were announced almost a year ago.

With 12 nods, it set the record for most nominations earned by a play. And a number of experts predicted the production would win at least a few top awards during Sunday night’s four-hour Tonys celebration. But instead, it failed to win a single award and finished the night with another record — one perhaps less envied. Slave Play has now overtaken 1995’s Indiscretions as the play that fared the worst on Tonys night.

Indiscretions had nine nominations. Slave Play‘s 0-for-12 tally is comparable to the showings of musicals Scottsboro Boys in 2011 and Mean Girls in 2018, which each won zero awards despite a dozen nominations apiece.

Harris, however, was taking the development in stride, tweeting that he was grateful for the impact the show had.

Slave Play has never won one of the major awards of any of the great voting bodies but changed a culture and has inspired thousands of ppl who didn’t care about theatre before,” he tweeted. “Lol also I told my mom this was gonna happen this morning bc we knew who these folx were when we put the play on stage in nyc. [T]hat’s why we put a mirror up.”

He went on to say he’d be “partying tonight” because “history was made in spite.”

Despite the shut out, the production, which closed in January of 2020, will return to Broadway this fall at the August Wilson Theatre. Previews begin Tuesday, Nov. 23 ahead of an official opening night on Thursday, Dec. 2. The eight-week engagement will run through Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022.

Other productions shut out on Sunday night include multiple nominees Betrayal, Sea Wall/A Life and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, starring Tony Awards co-host Audra McDonald, who could have extended her own record for Tony Awards won by a performer if she had triumphed in her category.

In terms of surprises in individual categories, a number of pundits expected A Soldier’s Play‘s Blair Underwood or Betrayal‘s Tom Hiddleston to win the leading actor in a play prize in a category that also featured Sea Wall/A Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. But instead, that award went to The Inheritance‘s Andrew Burnap.

Sept. 27, 8:24 a.m. This story has been updated to add Slave Play‘s planned return to Broadway.

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