Whether you’re a hardcore Broadway buff or someone with only a passing interest in the Great White Way, here are 40 fun facts and shocking stats that will make watching Sunday night’s Tony Awards extra fun and interesting.
1. This is the 37th consecutive year in which CBS is broadcasting the Tonys.
2. First-time Tonys hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming — who have both won Tonys, she for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999) and he for Cabaret (1998) — previously worked together on several other projects over the last 16 years: the 1999 TV movie Annie; the TV series The Good Wife, on which they both have recurring roles; and the 2015 animated film Strange Magic, in which they can be heard singing a song together.
3. Chenoweth, a best actress in a musical nominee for On the Twentieth Century, is only the latest in a line of people who hosted the Tonys in a year in which they were nominated: Glenn Close in 1992 (solo) and 1995 (with Nathan Lane and Gregory Hines) while simultaneously appearing in the play Death and the Maiden and the musical Sunset Boulevard, respectively; she was nominated and won both times. Lane and Matthew Broderick hosted in 2001 while simultaneously appearing in The Producers, for which they were both nominated in the same category; Lane won. And Hugh Jackman hosted in 2004 while appearing in The Boy from Oz, for which he won.
4. 22 shows that opened on Broadway during the 2014-2015 season received at least one Tony nomination: Airline Highway, An American in Paris, The Audience, Constellations, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Disgraced, The Elephant Man, Fun Home, Gigi, Hand to God, The Heidi Chronicles, It’s Only a Play, The King and I, The Last Ship, On the Town, On the Twentieth Century, Skylight, Something Rotten!, This Is Our Youth, The Visit, Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2 and You Can’t Take It with You. (13 shows that opened on Broadway during the 2014-2015 season received zero Tony nominations: The Country House, A Delicate Balance, Doctor Zhivago, Finding Neverland, Fish in the Dark, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Honeymoon in Vegas, It Shoulda Been You, Living on Love, Love Letters, The Real Thing, The River and Side Show.)
5. An American in Paris and Fun Home, which are thought to be in a close race for the best musical Tony, tied for the most overall nominations with 12. No play received more noms than Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two, which garnered eight.
6. This year’s 15 shows nominated in one of the best show categories — best play, best musical, best revival of a play and best revival of a musical — are set across a number of different centuries: the 16th (Something Rotten! and Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two), the 19th (The Elephant Man and The King and I), the 20th (An American in Paris, Fun Home, On the Town, On the Twentieth Century, Skylight, This Is Our Youth and You Can’t Take It with You) and the 21st (Disgraced). The time periods of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Hand to God and The Visit, respectively, are not specified.
7. Of this year’s 15 shows nominated in one of the best show categories, only three didn’t or don’t have an intermission: Disgraced, Fun Home and The Visit.
8. 13 acting nominees were acknowledged for their Broadway debuts: Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Geneva Carr (Hand to God), Ruth Wilson (Constellations), Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris), Leanne Cope (An American in Paris), Ken Watanabe (The King and I), Lydia Leonard (Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2), Micah Stock (It’s Only a Play), Matthew Beard (Skylight), Richard McCabe (The Audience), Sydney Lucas (Fun Home), Emily Skeggs (Fun Home) and Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I).
9. Six acting nominees have previously won Tonys: Christian Borle (Something Rotten!) for Peter and the Starcatcher (2012); Michael Cerveris (Fun Home) for Assassins (2004); Kristin Chenoweth (On the Twentieth Century) for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999); Victoria Clark (Gigi) for The Light in the Piazza (2005); Chita Rivera (The Visit) for The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993); and Julie White (Airline Highway) for The Little Dog Laughed (2007).
10. Six acting nominees were acknowledged for shows that are no longer running on Broadway: The Elephant Man‘s Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson; The Heidi Chronicles‘ Elisabeth Moss; and You Can’t Take It with You‘s Annaleigh Ashford. The final performance of Airline Highway, for which K. Todd Freeman and Julie White are nominated, will be on Tonys Sunday.
11. Three actresses were acknowledged for portraying the same character: Sydney Lucas, Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs all play Fun Home protagonist Alison Bechdel at different points in her life. The nearest precedents for this were in 2009, when the three child actors who played the title role in Billy Elliot shared a best actor in a musical nomination and win, and in 2013, when the four child actresses who played the title role in Matilda shared a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
12. 15 acting nominees were acknowledged for portraying people who actually lived: Michael Cerveris plays Bruce Bechdel, Judy Kuhn plays Helen Bechdel and Sydney Lucas, Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs play Alison Bechdel in Fun Home; Patricia Clarkson played Madge Kendal, Bradley Cooper played John Merrick and Alessandro Nivola played Frederick Trewes in The Elephant Man; Ken Watanabe plays King Mongkut, and Kelli O’Hara plays Anna Leonowens, in The King and I; Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth II and Richard McCabe plays Prime Minister Harold Wilson in The Audience; and Ben Miles plays Thomas Cromwell, Lydia Leonard plays Anne Boleyn and Nathaniel Parker plays King Henry VIII in Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two.
13. Three acting nominees are non-white: K. Todd Freeman (Airline Highway), Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) and Ken Watanabe (The King and I).
14. Three acting nominees have a sibling who also acted on Broadway during the 2014-2015 season: Michael Cerveris (Fun Home) is the brother of Marisa Cerveris (The Phantom of the Opera), Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris) is the brother of Megan Fairchild (On the Town) and Sydney Lucas (Fun Home) is the sister of Jake Lucas (The King and I).
15. Best actor in a musical nominee Tony Yazbeck (On the Town) could become the first actor named Tony (meaning someone who goes by “Tony” as opposed to “Anthony”) to win a Tony. The seven actors named Tony who previously came up short: Tony Randall (1958), Tony Roberts (1968), Tony Azito (1981), Tony Lo Bianco (1983), Antony Sher (1997), Tony Sheldon (2011) and Tony Shalhoub (1992, 2013 and 2014). For point of reference, three actors were Tony-nominated for playing characters named Tony: Robert Weede (for The Most Happy Fella, in 1957), Giorgio Tozzi (for a revival of The Most Happy Fella, in 1980) and Keith Roberts (for Movin‘ Out, in 2003).
16. Five acting nominees have also been nominated for Oscars: Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man) for Pieces of April (2003); Bradley Cooper (The Elephant Man) for Silver Linings Playbook (2012), American Hustle (2013) and American Sniper (2014); Helen Mirren (The Audience) for The Queen (2006), for which she won, and The Last Station (2009); Carey Mulligan (Skylight) for An Education (2009); and Ken Watanabe (The King and I) for The Last Samurai (2003).
17. Helen Mirren is a best actress in a play nominee for The Audience, in which she plays Queen Elizabeth II, who she also played in the 2006 film The Queen, for which she won the best actress Oscar. If she wins the Tony, she would be only the second person to win an Oscar and then a Tony for playing the same character. (Lila Kedrova won an Oscar for Zorba the Greek and then the Tony for Zorba, playing the same character in both.)
18. Four of this year’s Tony-nominated musicals were also released as movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age: An American in Paris (in 1951, en route to a best picture Oscar) and Gigi (in 1958, en route to a best picture Oscar) — both of which were produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Vincente Minnelli and starred Leslie Caron — as well as The King and I (in 1957) and On the Town (in 1949). Three of this year’s other Tony nominated shows were also made as movies: The Elephant Man (in 1980), On the Twentieth Century (as Twentieth Century in 1934) and You Can’t Take It with You (in 1938, en route to a best picture Oscar).
19. Composer Sting‘s best original score nomination for The Last Ship makes him a nomination EGOT — in other words, he has now been nominated for an Emmy (one time, winning one time), a Grammy (38 times, winning 16 of them), an Oscar (three times, winning none so far) and a Tony.
20. Of this year’s acting nominees, the oldest is Chita Rivera (The Visit), who is 82, and the youngest is Sydney Lucas (Fun Home), who is 11.
21. Best actress in a musical nominee Chita Rivera (The Visit) received her first Tony nom 53 years ago. This nom, her tenth, sets a new record for an actress.
22. Best featured actress in a musical nominee Sydney Lucas (Fun Home) could become the second-youngest female Tony winner in history. (The Secret Garden‘s Daisy Eagan was also 11 but a little less into her 12th year when she won this same category’s prize in 1991.) She became the youngest Obie winner in history when she was recognized for the same show’s Off Broadway incarnation.
23. Fun Home could become the first musical that originated at Circle in the Square theater — a 43-year-old in-the-round house — to win a Tony for best musical or best revival of a musical. (It is nominated for the former.) Three other musicals have been nominated for one of those prizes but came up short: Sweeney Todd (1990), The Rocky Horror Show (2001) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005).
24. The only two actors to receive noms last year and this year are Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County in 2014, The King and I in 2015) and Andy Karl (Rocky in 2014, On the 20th Century in 2015).
25. Best actress in a musical nominees Kristin Chenoweth (On the Twentieth Century) and Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) are both alums of Oklahoma City University and trained there with the same voice teacher, Florence Birdwell.
26. Best actress in a musical nominee Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) has now received six noms in 11 years; this is her fourth nom for a show directed by Bartlett Sher and her third for a show performed at Lincoln Center.
27. Legendary composers John Kander and Fred Ebb landed a best original score nom for The Visit — even though Ebb has been dead for nearly 11 years.
28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time landed 6 noms, including one for best choreography; the last non-musical to be recognized in that category was Dancing at Lughnasa 23 years ago.
29. If Fun Home composers Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron win best original score, it will be only the second time that the award has not at least been shared with a man. (Cyndi Lauper was a solo winner for 2013’s Kinky Boots.)
30. Four of this year’s shows were performed on London’s West End before landing nominations: The Audience, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Skylight and Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two. One show took the reverse trajectory: The Elephant Man, which is now running on the West End.
31. Bill Nighy is a best actor in a play nominee for his portrayal of the male lead in Skylight — a part he has played in three different major productions of his friend David Hare‘s drama over the last 18 years.
32. Two performers received nominations this year for a show that marked their first appearance on the Great White Way in more than a quarter-century: Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man), who was last on Broadway in Eastern Standard (1989-1989); and Nathaniel Parker (Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two), who was last on Broadway in The Merchant of Venice (1989-1990).
33. The title of best play nominee The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is certainly long, but that category has been won by a show with a much longer one: The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (1966). For those of you counting at home, that’s 151 letters, 26 words and 44 syllables. (It was widely known as Marat/Sade, just as many refer to the 2015 show as The Curious Incident.)
34. Best play nominee Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two would not be the first multi-part show to win in that category: two-parter The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982) and three-parter The Coast of Utopia (2007) both won, and you might also count America: Millennium Approaches (1993) and Angels in America: Perestroika (1994), even though the two parts premiered a year apart.
35. Best play nominee Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two is the first non-musical to play at the famous Winter Garden Theatre since 1982 and, like the first show ever to play at the Winter Garden in 1911, a multi-part production.
36. Best musical nominee Something Rotten! is the 218th Broadway show to feature an exclamation mark in its title. Examples of shows with exclamation marks in their title date back as far as the 1850s. The show with the greatest number of exclamation marks in its title: Piff! Paff!! Pouff!!! (1904).
37. One of many inside-jokes for theater buffs in best musical nominee Something Rotten!, a show about playwrights who are trying to compete with Shakespeare and end up writing the first musical, is that 18 characters are named after Shakespearean characters.
38. Best actor in a play nominee Steven Boyer and best featured actress in a play nominee Sarah Stiles are not the first people to receive Tony nominations for performances that involve puppetry. John Tartaglia and Stephanie D’Abruzzo were nominated for best actor in a musical and best actress in a musical, respectively, for Avenue Q (2004).
39. Five revered craftspeople landed multiple noms this year. Bob Crowley received noms for both best scenic design of a play (Skylight) and best scenic design of a musical (An American in Paris) — a feat he also achieved in 2007, eventually winning both — and best costume design of a play (The Audience) and best costume design of a musical (An American in Paris). (He also received noms for scenic design and costume design in 1987 and 2000, before those categories were divided by genre.) David Rockwell received noms for best scenic design of a play (You Can’t Take It with You) and best scenic design of a musical (On the Twentieth Century) — a feat he also achieved in 2013. Paule Constable received two noms for best lighting design of a play (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two.) Natasha Katz received noms for best lighting design of a play (Skylight) and best lighting design of a musical (An American in Paris). And Japhy Weideman received noms for best lighting design of a play (Airline Highway) and best lighting design of a musical (The Visit).
40. The words “et cetera” are uttered 48 times in every performance of The King and I.