It was a busy year on Broadway this season, which means that many Tony Award categories were expanded, but also that several prominent shows and performances were snubbed when the nominations were announced this morning.
Hadestown, a jazzy contemporary retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice legend, led the field with 14 nominations – nearly every category for which it was eligible. It will vie for best musical against Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (12 noms), Tootsie (11 noms), The Prom and Beetlejuice, the final show to open before the Tonys deadline. Left off the best musical list was Be More Chill, The Cher Show, King Kong (yeah, it’s a musical) and Pretty Woman (which got completely shut out).
More surprising were the hot-ticket productions snubbed in the best play category. Neither To Kill a Mockingbird nor Network made the cut, though its box office name stars – Jeff Daniels and Bryan Cranston – both received nods for best actor in a play. Leading the play list was The Ferryman (9 nominations), a large cast dramatization of the Irish “troubles.” Ink, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, What the Constitution Means to Me and the long-closed Choir Boy fill out the category.
As a marketing tool for Broadway, the Tonys strongly favor shows that are still running, which probably means the best play revival will be a race between two recently opened works with mixed reviews — All My Sons and Burn This. Filling out the category are three shuttered shows, The Boys in the Band, Torch Song and The Waverly Gallery. The musical revival category could only come up with two nominees, the dark-toned Oklahoma! and the revised, politically correct Kiss Me, Kate.
The best actress in a play category was expanded to six nominees, but that was not enough to include the legendary Glenda Jackson as King Lear, the best thing about an ill-conceived version of the Shakespearean tragedy. The production only received one nod, for featured actress Ruth Wilson in two roles, as Lear’s daughter Cordelia and the Fool. The best actress nominees are Annette Bening, All My Sons; Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman; Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery; Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet; Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton; and Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me.
In addition to Daniels and Cranston in the best actor category, nominations went to Paddy Considine, The Ferryman; Adam Driver, Burn This; and Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy. That leaves out the Clinton of Hillary and Clinton, John Lithgow, already a two-time Tony winner.
Leading the lead actor in a musical category is Santino Fontana as the cross-dressing title character in Tootsie, roundly acclaimed when the show opened last week. He seems likely to beat Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom; Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud; Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice; and Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
Both Caitlin Kinnunen and Beth Leavel of The Prom gained nominations for lead actress in a musical, which probably means they will cancel each other out in the voting. That leaves Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show; Eva Noblezada, Hadestown; and Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate, to duke it out for the award.
The nominees for best score written for the theater is interesting. While best musical hopefuls Hadestown, Tootsie, The Prom and Beetlejuice made the cut, the Temptations’ score was deemed ineligible. Instead, nominations went to Be More Chill (its only nod) and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Typically, shows that came up empty-handed for Tony nominations soon post closing notices. Others with weak sales try to hang on until the winners are announced Sunday, June 9, broadcast on CBS-TV, with James Corden hosting.