This Tony Awards season, out of 40 nominated actors, 23 are first-time nominees. Of those first-time nominees, seven are nominated for their Broadway debuts. Recognition at this level signals a breakthrough, a solidification of their place in the industry. But there are also first-time acting nominees on the opposite end of the spectrum — those Broadway veterans who have established their spot after having been consistently entertaining audiences. For these performers, a first Tony nomination represents the culmination of years (often decades) of work and artistry.
“It resonates in a way that it wouldn’t have before,” said Kevin Cahoon, who is nominated for his turn as Peanut in the new musical “Shucked” — his sixth Broadway show. Cahoon made his Broadway debut 30 years ago in “The Who’s Tommy.” He has also originated roles in “The Lion King,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “The Wedding Singer” but hasn’t been recognized by the Tony Awards until now.