Singer and songwriter Mariah Carey scored her first-ever nomination when nominees for the upcoming Tony Awards were announced on May 2. Carey serves as a producer of the Broadway musical Some Like It Hot, based on the 1959 film by Billy Wilder. She also lent her voice to the pre-show announcement before the curtain rose. (“Welcome to the Shubert Theater!” she tells the audience each night. “At this time, please take a moment to turn off your cell phones. And remember: the use of photographic equipment and recording devices is strictly prohibited. And now, Some Like It Hot.”)
Carey got involved with the project in part due to her admiration for Marilyn Monroe, who starred in the film. “I first became familiar with this story through the timeless film starring Marilyn Monroe,” Carey said in a statement via Entertainment Tonight. “She’s been an important touchstone throughout my life, so much so that I acquired her treasured baby grand white piano at an auction.”
“When [producer] Neil Meron shared this new take on the beloved film, I knew I had to be a part of it,” she continued. She praised the production for celebrating diversity and inclusion. “To see how this show continues to expand on the film’s legacy – pushing boundaries, promoting inclusion, celebrating diversity – I’m proud to help bring Some Like It Hot for today’s world to new audiences.”
Some Like It Hot earned 13 Tony nominations, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical Score. Casey Nicholaw is nominated for Best Director. The show is also nominated for Best Musical; if it wins, Carey wins a Tony for producing. Actor J. Harrison Ghee is nominated for best actor in a musical for playing Jerry, one of two jazz musicians who disguise themselves as women to join an all-female band.
“Congratulations to the amazing cast and crew!!! Couldn’t have asked for better news to wake up to!!!” Carey tweeted when the nominations came out.
Some Like It Hot leads a diverse field of nominees for both musicals and plays. Alex Newell (who played Unique on “Glee”) is nominated for best featured actor in a musical for Shucked. Newell plays Lulu, a whiskey distiller entrepreneur, in the show about a small town where the corn crop suddenly fails. Newell and Ghee are the first nonbinary actors to be nominated for Tonys.
Both actors reacted positively to their nominations. “It’s a step in the right direction, because there are so many gender non-conforming and non-binary performers that might not ever get to shine because of these gendered categories,” Newell said.
“It’s such an honor. I just continue to live in the four-fold way of living. I show up, tell my truth in present and I’m not attached to the outcome. So, I’m just honored that the work is speaking for itself and I’m so proud of the special show we’ve got going on at the Shubert,” Ghee said.
Actor Wendell Pierce is nominated for Best Actor in a Play for Death of a Salesman. He played traveling salesman Willy Loman in an adaptation of the 1949 tragedy by playwright Arthur Miller. This is the first time the play has been told from the perspective of a Black family. Pierce (perhaps best known for his role as the Detective Bunk on HBO’s “The Wire”) is the first Black actor to play the role on Broadway.
In an interview with MSNBC, Pierce was asked how the (mostly) all-Black cast affects the telling of the story. “I think it amplifies it,” he answered. “The disillusionment about what the American dream is for a Black family in 1949 just heightens all the themes of the play even more.”
Pierce first debuted on Broadway in the 1980s; this is his first Tony nomination. “I am profoundly honored and moved to tears that my colleagues would bestow on me this honor,” Pierce wrote in a tweet on May 2. “I share this with my cast. We create as one.”