Broadway’s two most acclaimed new musicals — the gritty Neil Patrick Harris starrer Hedwig And The Angry Inch and the Sutton Foster bus vehicleViolet – will not be eligible for Tony Award nominations in the all-important Best New Musical category. Instead, they’ll be eligible in the category of Best Revival of a Musical. The decisions were announced today after the final meeting of the Tony Awards Administration Committee, which determines eligibility in all of the Tony categories. Nominations – and, ultimately, wins — in the Best Musical and Best Play categories typically carry the most weight at the box office.
Both Hedwig and Violet were mounted previously off-Broadway, the reason cited for declaring them no-goes in the top categories. Widely considered the best new musicals in a season short on critical and customer consensus, the result is likely to mean a slew of less popular shows will float to the top of the Best-dressed list when nominations are announced Tuesday.
The decision does not affect the eligibility of the shows’ stars — and other elements of their productions — from competing in their respective categories, such as Best Performance By A Leading Actor in a Musical.>Hedwig, in which Harris has won raves in the title role of an “almost” transsexual who becomes an “internationally ignored song stylist,” is raw and rock-influenced (think Rocky Horror Picture Show meets A Star Is Born). Violet also concerns triumph over disfigurement, in this case the title woman, played by a sensational Foster (TV’s Bunheads and Flight Of The Conchords), who takes a bus trip across the South seeking healing from a televangelist after a childhood accident has left her with a terrible scar across her face.
Both Foster and Harris are shoo-ins for nominations Tuesday. A combination of crowded fields and split opinions leaves many other choices up for grabs.
Hugh Jackman will host the 68th Tonys on June 8 live on CBS.