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Interpreting the details behind the 2024 Tony Award nominees for Best Costume Design of a Musical

The artists behind “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Water for Elephants,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Suffs” and “Cabaret” dissect the stories told through clothing.

(Clockwise from top left) Costume design sketches and corresponding production photos from Broadway’s “The Great Gatsby,” “Suffs,” “Water for Elephants” and “Hell’s Kitchen” (Credits below)

All five of this year’s Tony Award nominees for Best Costume Design of a Musical were tasked with transporting audiences to a distinct time period. For “Hell’s Kitchen,” it’s 1990s Manhattan. “Water for Elephants” travels to the Depression era of the 1930s with a traveling circus. Across the pond, “Cabaret” invites audiences to 1929 Berlin. Always idealized, “The Great Gatsby” conjures the Roaring ’20s Jazz Age on a fictionalized cove of Long Island. “Suffs” rewinds even further to 1913 when suffragists fought for women’s right to vote. 

Beyond time and place, the costume design of a musical must also communicate individuality in each character — and serve the practicality of choreography, quick-changes and more. Here, all five nominees — Dede Ayite, David Israel Reynoso, Linda Cho, Paul Tazewell and Tom Scutt — decipher the narratives embedded in the costume designs of their shows. 

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