How Many Shows This Season Are By Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists?

Jennifer Ashley Tepper Is answering your questions with Broadway Deep Dive!

By: Feb. 10, 2024
How Many Shows This Season Are By Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists?
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Do you have a burning Broadway question? Dying to know more about an obscure Broadway fact? Broadway historian and self-proclaimed theatre nerd Jennifer Ashley Tepper is here to help with her new series, Broadway Deep Dive. Every month, BroadwayWorld will be accepting questions from theatre fans like you. If you're lucky, your question might be selected as the topic of her next column!

Submit your Broadway question in the comments here!

This time, the reader question was: Are there a lot of new productions by Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists this season, or does it just seem that way?

As has been extensively covered, the 2023-2024 season is chock full of new productions, particularly within the race-to-awards-season spring period on Broadway. 

Broadway and off-Broadway both have multiple offerings this season by dramatists who have been honored in the past as Pulitzer winners or finalists. Audience members are certainly lucky about the embarrassment of riches that is this season’s new productions!

This season off-Broadway has seen several plays by Pulitzer finalists. In September, the Atlantic presented Infinite Life by Annie Baker, 2014 Pulitzer winner for The Flick. Infinite Life was set at a California clinic where a disparate group of mostly-women suffering from illnesses fast and follow the rules at this unconventional retreat in order to cease their pain. Like all of Baker’s work, Infinite Life had audiences ruminating on the depth of what they experienced on stage for a long time after leaving the theater.

In 2002, playwright Rebecca Gilman, who has often focused on political themes in her work, was a Pulitzer finalist for her play, The Glory of Living. This season, audiences could experience her new play, Swing State, when it played the Minetta Lane Theatre. The show, presented by Audible, was set in rural Wisconsin, and explored the political polarization of America today.

Those who want to see upcoming new work this season off-Broadway by dramatists previously honored by the Pulitzer committee will have several opportunities. Later this month, John Patrick Shanley’s new play, Brooklyn Laundry, will open at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage I at City Center. Shanley, a beloved presence off-Broadway and on, also has the show that won him the 2005 Pulitzer, Doubt, being revived on Broadway this season.

How Many Shows This Season Are By Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists?
Scene from A Strange Loop

Previews begin at Playwrights Horizons this month for Teeth, with book and lyrics by 2020 Pulitzer winner for A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson, and music and lyrics by Anna K. Jacobs. A Strange Loop also began its off-Broadway journey at Playwrights Horizons before transferring to the Lyceum on Broadway. Teeth, based on the cult classic movie of the same name, has an unlikely basis for a musical—and many of its performances are sold out already!

The history-making Suzan-Lori Parks won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog and was also nominated in 2000 and 2015 for In The Blood and Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3), respectively. She is one of ten playwrights who have received three or more Pulitzer nominations. In March, Parks’ new play, Sally & Tom, that chronicles a theatre company who are presenting a piece about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, begins previews at The Public Theater.

One of the reasons the season has so many Pulitzer-honored playwrights involved may be due to the backlog of productions the industry is still catching up on scheduling, that were delayed due to the pandemic pause. That was certainly one of the reasons why, last season, the five Tony Award nominees for Best Play included three Pulitzer Prize winners; Between Riverside and Crazy won in 2015, Cost of Living won in 2018, Fat Ham won in 2022, for their premiere productions, before they debuted on Broadway. The other nominees were Leopoldstadt, which won, and Ain’t No Mo’.

How Many Shows This Season Are By Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists?
Scene from I Need That

Thus far this Broadway season, the boards have already welcomed three productions by previous Pulitzer honorees, with three more to come before season’s end. In the first half of the season, the American Airlines Theatre, which has since been renamed the Todd Haimes, presented I Need That, by Theresa Rebeck. Rebeck co-wrote (with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros) the 2004 Pulitzer-nominated Omnium Gatherum. I Need That was a moving exploration of a father-and-daughter relationship involving life, death, and hoarding tendencies.

In December, the much-buzzed-about new play Appropriate opened at the Hayes Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who was a Pulitzer finalist in 2016 and 2018 for Gloria and Everybody, respectively, Appropriate has a starry cast, led by Sarah Paulson and Corey Stoll. The Obie Award-winning Jacobs-Jenkins has another new play, The Comeuppance, starting previews at the Signature off-Broadway in May.

Days of Wine and Roses, currently running at Studio 54, started this season off-Broadway at the Atlantic before transferring to Broadway. The deeply affecting new musical, with book by Pulitzer honoree Craig Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, stars Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James as a couple affected by alcoholism over the course of their relationship.

Lucas was Pulitzer nominated in 1991 for his play, Prelude to a Kiss.

Next up, The Outsiders, a new musical based on the novel and film of the same name, will be starting previews at the Jacobs Theatre in March. The show, about young people in 1960s Oklahoma, has book by Pulitzer finalist Adam Rapp, along with Justin Levine, and music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Levine. Rapp was a Pulitzer finalist in 2006 for Red Light Winter.

Two new Broadway plays both by previous Pulitzer honorees both start previews on April 2nd. Mary Jane, which marks the Broadway debut of star Rachel McAdams in the title role, is a new play by Amy Herzog. Herzog was Pulitzer nominated for her 2013 play, 4000 Miles.

Mother Play, by Paula Vogel, is the final Broadway entry this season by a Pulitzer committee-honored writer. Vogel was a 1998 winner for How I Learned to Drive, which had an acclaimed 2022 Broadway revival. Mother Play is a world premiere that will star Jessica Lange, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jim Parsons as a family contending with life in the 1960s.