It’s a good year for Broadway first-timers. Over 20 artists who are making their Main Stem debut this season have been nominated by the Tony Awards committee for theatre’s highest honor.
All of the playwrights in the Best Play category—who happen to all be under 40 years old—are making their debut this season. Danai Gurira, 38, best known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead, is nominated for her moving new play Eclipsed; French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller, 36, is a first-time Broadway writer with The Father, starring Frank Langella (also a 2016 Tony nominee); two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Karam’s, 36, new play The Humans was fast-tracked to Broadway this season; and British playwright Mike Bartlett, 35, makes his debut with King Charles III.
Other first-time creators in their Broadway debuts include Steve Martin, who is nominated for Best Book and Best Original Score (along with Edie Brickell, also in her debut) for Bright Star; and Sara Bareilles for Best Original Score for Waitress.
In the performance categories, nominees in their Broadway debuts include Mark Strong (Best Leading Actor in a Play, A View From the Bridge), Lupita Nyong’o (Best Leading Actress in a Play, Eclipsed), Carmen Cusack (Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Bright Star), Cynthia Erivo (Best Leading Actress in a Musical, The Color Purple), Phillipa Soo (Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Hamilton), Richard Goulding (Best Featured Actor in a Play, King Charles III), Daveed Diggs (Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Hamilton) and Danielle Brooks (Best Featured Actress in a Musical, The Color Purple).
Jan Versweyveld is nominated three times for Best Scenic Design of A View From the Bridge and Best Lighting Design of both The Crucible and A View From the Bridge—two works that he debuted with this season alongside his partner Ivo van Hove, also nominated this season for his direction of A View From the Bridge.
Also on the creative end are Best Direction of a Play nominee Liesl Tommy, who makes her Broadway debut with Eclipsed; Best Direction of a Musical nominee Michael Arden, who makes his directorial debut with Spring Awakening (although he’s performed on Broadway before in Big River and The Times They Are A-Changin’ and was assistant director on A Tale of Two Cities); and Best Choreography nominee Hofesh Schechter, who debuts this season with Fiddler on the Roof.