The New York Times has reported that trans non-binary performer Justin David Sullivan, who is currently starring as May in the Broadway production of & Juliet, has withdrawn from consideration for the Tony Awards rather than compete in a gendered category.
Sullivan was among performers who could have been nominated as a featured performer in a musical. By opting out of the Tony Awards, in which all of the categories are gendered, Sullivan is putting pressure on the awards.
The Outer Critics Circle board of directors recently voted to remove gender specifications from acting categories. The Obie Awards, which honor work Off and Off Off Broadway also have nongendered categories.
Sullivan told the Times, "I felt I had no choice but to abstain from being considered for a nomination this season... I hope that award shows across the industry will expand their reach to be able to honor and award people of all gender identities."
Tony Award Productions shared an official statement with BroadwayWorld: "We recognize that the current acting categories are not fully inclusive, and we are currently in discussion about how to best adjust them to address this. Unfortunately, we are still in process on this and our rules do not allow us to make changes once a season has begun. We are working thoughtfully to ensure that no member of our community feel excluded, on the basis of gender identity, in future seasons."
& Juliet is currently running on Boradway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
& Juliet flips the script on the greatest love story ever told, imagining what would happen next if Juliet hadn't ended it all over Romeo, and got a second chance at life and love - on her terms. Juliet's new story bursts to life through a playlist of pop anthems as iconic as her name, all written by Max Martin and his collaborators, including "Since U Been Gone," "Roar," "Baby One More Time," "Larger Than Life," "That's The Way It Is," "Can't Stop the Feeling," and many more.
& Juliet had its World Premiere in September 2019 at the Manchester Opera House in England, before moving to London's West End, where it began performances in November 2019 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London and went on to win three Olivier Awards. The Broadway-bound production of & Julietdebuted last summer at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, where it broke box office records and played to standing-room-only audiences. An Australian production of & Juliet will premiere in February 2023 at Melbourne's Regent Theatre.