Black, gay, plus-size musical ‘A Strange Loop’ leads Tony nominations

It’s no surprise… It’s A Strange Loop!

If you haven’t heard the news, the play that’s leading the Tony nominations with a total of 11 nominations is gay, Black playwright Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop!

If you’re not sure why this is such a huge deal, well here’s why: Since its 2019 Off-Broadway debut at Playwrights Horizons, A Strange Loop has been getting numerous accolades. Mostly because it’s the first time a plus-sized, gay Black male character has been the central figure in a musical. 

The musical itself is a bit of a meta journey about a young Black man writing a play about a young Black man writing a play, which is a very unique concept that we’ve never quite seen before. A Strange Loop explores a young, gay, Black man’s journey with self-loathing, self-love, self-doubts, acceptance, body image, family issues, spirituality, sexuality, and career stress.

After winning the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, A Strange Loop opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on April 26, 2022. It’s now leading the Tony nominations with 11 nominations, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for lead actor Jaquel Spivey.

Jaquel Spivey (front) and ensemble

Another reason why A Strange Loop leading the nominations is such a big deal is because one of the featured actresses, L Morgan Lee, made theatre history, becoming the first openly transgender performer to be nominated for a Tony Award for her performance. 

L Morgan Lee

Tied with 10 nominations right behind A Strange Loop is MJ, a bio musical of the King of Pop stuffed with his biggest hits, and Paradise Square, a musical about Irish immigrants and Black Americans jostling to survive in New York City around the time of the Civil War.

The four-hour Tony Award ceremony will take place Sunday, June 12, and will once again be split between Paramount+ and CBS. Coverage will start on the streaming platform at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, followed by the rest of the ceremony airing live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.