Check out these shows by award-winning writers in New York
We’ve all seen a movie, or read a book, or listened to a song just because an artist we love wrote or starred in it. We cheer especially hard for them when their work gets recognized with critical acclaim and awards at the most prestigious ceremonies. If you’re one of these people, or just someone who likes to see what all the hype is about when a writer gets awards, we can tell you about plenty of acclaimed writers whose works are on and off Broadway, and are worth checking out.
Plenty of writers have received most of their accolades in theatre, like Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. However, music, literary, and film creators also write scripts, lyrics, and music for the stage, each bringing their unique style to the New York theatre landscape. But they all have two things in common: They’ve been recognized with various honors, and you can see their work live right now. Read on to learn about the award-winning writers behind Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s list of awards is so long, it could be its own article. In fact, it is: Read about all the awards Lin-Manuel Miranda has won. Most of his accolades — including multiple Tonys, a Grammy, an Emmy, an Olivier, and the Pulitzer Prize — are for his blockbuster hip-hop history musical Hamilton. However, his other hit show, In the Heights, received its fair share too, including a Tony, a Grammy, and an Olivier. And if he wins an Oscar for the Disney film Encanto this year, he’ll have the prestigious EGOT status. History is happening in Manhattan as long as Miranda is writing!
Anaïs Mitchell has been livin’ it up on top since the debut of Hadestown. Mitchell’s folk-music retelling of Greek mythology took home eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2019. She herself won the Best Original Score Tony and was also nominated for Best Book of a Musical. The next year, Hadestown got the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. She’d been working on the Hadestown musical, which began as a 2010 concept album, for years, so all that hard work paid off! Long before Hadestown, too, Mitchell received the 2003 New Folk Award from the Kerrville Folk Festival for her music. Go way down Hadestown and see her award-winning tunes live!
Company has music and lyrics by the late, great Stephen Sondheim, a true master of his craft. His famously witty wordplay and intricate melodies earned him eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Oscar, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Sunday in the Park with George) a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors, a spot in the American Theater Hall of Fame, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to name just a few. You can see his excellent work on Broadway right now in Company, which contains some of his most beloved songs including “Being Alive” and “Not Getting Married Today.”
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical showcases two formidable talents on its creative team: Katori Hall and, of course, Tina Turner herself. And they’re simply the best!
Hall, a playwright, wrote the book for the musical, and she later won the Pulitzer Prize for her play The Hot Wing King. Turner, whose chart-topping songs are the bedrock of the musical, has 12 Grammy Awards to her name, including three Hall of Fame awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award. She has a star on two walks of fame and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. We couldn’t be more proud of both women’s successes.
David Byrne’s American Utopia
Musician extraordinaire David Byrne has a Tony, an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe for a reason. After gaining fame as the leading songwriter, singer, and guitarist for the Talking Heads, he moved on to an equally prolific solo career as a singer/songwriter. His Broadway show, David Byrne’s American Utopia, is named for his 2018 album and includes most of its songs as well as other Talking Heads and solo hits. Get ready to burn — er, Byrne — down the house with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer at American Utopia.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
J. K. Rowling has won more awards than every Triwizard Tournament champion put together. Her Harry Potter novels have won, among other accolades, multiple British Book Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, a Hugo Award, and a Whitbread Book Award — not to mention the hearts of countless fans across multiple generations. Rowling herself won personal achievement awards from the British Book Awards, too, as well as an Order of the British Empire and a place in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Since co-creating the original story for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the theatrical sequel to her novels, she’s added some theatre awards to her shelf, too, including a Best New Play Olivier Award and Best Play Tony Award. She and Cursed Child co-creator John Tiffany shared those two with Jack Thorne, who actually penned the Cursed Child script. He has five BAFTA Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and many more accolades to his own name as a playwright and screenwriter. When it comes to literary fame, they’re the chosen ones.
Take Me Out
Richard Greenberg has had a long career as a playwright and TV writer, but he’s best known for Take Me Out, a play about a Major League Baseball player who comes out as gay. The work earned him Best Play prizes at the Tony, Drama Desk, New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama League, and Lucille Lortel Awards in 2003, and he’s also a two-time Pulitzer finalist (for Take Me Out and Three Days of Rain). You can see his most famous work in its first Broadway revival in spring 2022, starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jesse Williams, and Patrick J. Adams.
Neil Simon’s awards could fill Suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel, where Plaza Suite, a farce about three couples, takes place. He won the Tony Award for Best Playwright in 1965, and 10 years later, he won a special Tony Award for his overall contributions to American theatre with other comedic works like Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, the Best Play Tony winner Biloxi Blues, and the Pulitzer winner Lost in Yonkers. He also won the 2006 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and has a Broadway theatre named after him! That’s not where you’ll catch Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in the latest Plaza Suite revival, though; Plaza Suite is at the Hudson Theatre.
A Strange Loop
After premiering off Broadway in 2019 and enjoying a successful run in D.C., Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop is looping back around to New York for a Broadway run. In the meantime, Jackson picked up a Pulitzer Prize for his semiautobiographical musical. That’s a feat in itself, but Jackson’s achievement also made him the first Black writer to win a Pulitzer for a musical, and the first musical writer to win a Pulitzer before their show premiered on Broadway. In addition, the Off-Broadway production of A Strange Loop picked up more than a dozen other accolades, including multiple each of Obie, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle Awards.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is just one of the many iconic plays by the legendary Tennessee Williams and one of two that have won the Pulitzer Prize, the other being A Streetcar Named Desire. He’s also earned a Best Play Tony Award (for The Rose Tattoo), three New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and three Donaldson Awards. For all his work, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and is often called one of the greatest American playwrights of all time. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last played Broadway in 2013, but you can now see Williams’s masterpiece in a new Off-Broadway production from July to August 2022.
It feels like Tracy Letts is starring in a new show or writing a new script every few minutes. But his consistent work has paid off, now that Letts has earned awards as both an actor and a playwright. His play August: Osage County got the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play, and Letts later picked up a second Tony for starring in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Now, he’s combining both his award-winning skills into one with The Minutes, his new play about secrets revealed at a small-town council meeting, in which he also stars.
David Mamet, the playwright behind American Buffalo, is also behind the Pulitzer-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross and the screenplay for its critically acclaimed, cult classic film adaptation. For his screenwriting efforts, he’s also won Screenwriter of the Year (for 1991’s Homicide) at the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards. Back on the playwriting side, American Buffalo won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play in 1977.
The third Broadway revival of the acclaimed play, about small-town hustlers with big-time greed, opens in spring 2022 with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss as its stars.
MJ The Musical
There aren’t many double Pulitzer winners out there, but Lynn Nottage is one of them. The playwright won once in 2009 for Ruined and again in 2017 for Sweat, and she has many other critically acclaimed shows to her name. In fact, for a brief time in winter 2022, she had the unique distinction of having a play, a musical, and an opera on Broadway all at the same time! The musical is MJ, a bio-musical about Michael Jackson for which Nottage wrote the book. MJ was briefly joined in the 2021-2022 theatre season by Nottage’s play Clyde’s and the opera Intimate Apparel, based on her 2003 play of the same name. She truly does it all — and has the accolades to prove it!
Dominique Morisseau is having a busy theatre season: The Broadway premiere of her play Skeleton Crew, about Detroit auto workers, just wrapped, and her newest play Confederates, about two underestimated Black women living centuries apart, is about to have its world premiere off Broadway. She’s been active as a playwright since 2011, though, and has received multiple accolades in that time.
Morisseau is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, two NAACP Image Awards for Black visionaries in the arts, and a joint special Obie Award with Ruben Santiago-Hudson for the Off-Broadway premiere of Skeleton Crew. Plus, in 2019, she became the first-ever Black woman to be nominated for the Best Book of a Musical Tony Award for Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations.
To Kill a Mockingbird
The stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird has two award-winning writers behind it. First, there’s Harper Lee, who wrote the landmark 1960 novel that eventually gave rise to the play. To Kill a Mockingbird won Lee the Pulitzer Prize, the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and is still considered one of the greatest American books of all time.
Fifty years later, award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin adapted the book into the Broadway play, which is on hiatus after three years on Broadway and returns June 1. His adapted screenplay for 2010’s The Social Network won him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA Award, and he’s got two additional Golden Globes for the films Steve Jobs and The Trial of the Chicago Seven. But most people know Sorkin as the writer of the TV show The West Wing, and rightfully so — he won an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy Award for it four years in a row.
Between the Lines
You don’t need to read between the lines to figure out how successful Jodi Picoult is. The author of multiple New York Times-bestselling books like My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, and The Storyteller has received numerous awards throughout her writing career, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Fearless Fiction Award from Cosmopolitan magazine, the Book Browse Diamond Award, and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award for mainstream fiction.
Between the Lines — a story about a young girl who develops a relationship with her favorite storybook character — is Picoult’s first young adult novel. Picoult co-authored the novel with her daughter, Samantha van Leer, and the book became a New York Times bestseller. Now, Timothy Allen McDonald adapts Between the Lines into a new musical debuting off Broadway in the summer.