Wendell Pierce, the actor who portrayed William “Bunk” Moreland on “The Wire,” was nominated Tuesday for a 2023 Tony Award as was Stevie Walker-Webb, who is in town directing his second show for Baltimore Center Stage.
And let’s not forget Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the dynamic duo who composed the score and wrote the lyrics for the musical version of “Hairspray.”
When the Tony winners are announced July 11 in a ceremony broadcast live on CBS, Baltimore theater lovers will have reason to watch. Below are the nominations with local ties in three of the biggest categories:
- Best actor, Wendell Pierce. Pierce, who portrayed the ethical but curmudgeonly detective who partnered with Jimmy McNulty on all five seasons of “The Wire,” was nominated for best actor after his performance as the down-on-his-luck Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” won raves. Ironically, Pierce appealed for help this weekend on social media after misplacing the production journal for the show, which he described on Twitter as his “life’s work.” That story has a happy ending; the actor retraced his steps and recovered his “Salesman” journal about an hour later.
- Best director, Stevie Walker-Webb. Walker-Webb is in town rehearsing the cast of the upcoming Baltimore Center Stage production of “Life is a Dream,” a philosophical 17th century play by Calderon de la Barco that has received a modern adaptation by Maria Irene Fornes. Previews begin Thursday, and the show opens May 11. This is the third production Walker-Webb will have directed for Center Stage in a little over a year. He shepherded R. Eric Thomas’ “The Folks at Home” last spring, and returned in September to helm Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town. Walker-Webb was nominated for directing the outrageous satire, “Ain’t No “Mo,” which is set in an airport lounge after the U.S. government purchases every Black American a one-way ticket to Africa. The show initially was scheduled to close after being open a bit more than two weeks, but received a reprieve after playwright Jordan E. Cooper launched a social media campaign, #SaveAintNoMo.
- Best original score, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. This is the songwriting team behind “Hairspray,” which debuted on Broadway in 2002. More than two decades later, the score has aged extremely well. “Hairspray’s” tunes seem as infectious and the lyrics as clever as they were when the sweet-natured musical set in John Waters’ 1960s Baltimore opened. The duo’s work on “Some Like It Hot,” which leads the Tony nominations with 13 nods, seems likely to fare just as well. The musical is a remake of Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 gender comedy about two musicians who witness a mob hit, flee for their lives, and disguise as women — but the modern version also picks up resonances of the contemporary discussions around gender fluidity.