UPDATE, 2 PM: Adds comments from Mary Beth Piel and Denée Benton in last paragraphs.
EARLIER: Blame Canada: Come From Away, a long-aborning musical about the Newfoundland town that hosted some 7,000 travelers diverted there when U.S. airspace was closed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, came away with seven Tony nominations, including best musical, as well as book and score by Irene Sankoff and David Hein.
“We’re so thrilled to have our show, our team and especially this story and the people of Newfoundland to be recognized and celebrated like this!,” they said after the nominations were announced. “We celebrated with our daughter this morning – having a ‘nomination party’ in our living room. She wasn’t totally clear exactly what was happening, but she knew there was cookies for breakfast and a lot of screaming.”
The show’s director, Christopher Ashley, had two reasons to cheer. “I am overjoyed to see not one but two La Jolla Playhouse productions receive this incredible national recognition,” he said. “Both David Hein and Irene Sankoff’s musical Come From Away and Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s play Indecent speak passionately and eloquently to the issues of this very moment in history, and both perfectly exemplify the Playhouse’s commitment to new play development. I couldn’t be more proud of our production teams and staff, who helped create and support these new works here in San Diego and propel them to continued life on Broadway.”
Danny DeVito was uncharacteristically tongue-tied in the wake of his nomination in the featured actor category for Arthur Miller’s The Price, where he’s appearing with Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht. “I’m speechless,” he said. “So great to be on Broadway with this cast, in this play. I’m honored.”
Broadway veteran Jenn Colella, who plays a ground-breaking airline pilot in Come From Away, said, “I was thrilled to see my name on the Tony nomination list this morning, absolutely! I’m also elated for my entire cast and creative team!! We all work as a unit, a close-knit family, and I cannot wait to get to the theater tonight to celebrate with everyone.”
It was a good day for theater owner and producer Jordan Roth. “All of us at Jujamcyn are so grateful that Present Laughter, Falsettos and Groundhog Day have been so warmly embraced by the Tony nominators today,” said Roth, the president of Jujamcyn Theatres (and regular Deadline contributor). “We are celebrating every person who has a hand in making these extraordinary shows and every person in our theaters who creates the remarkable experience for audiences every night. And of course, we’re celebrating a thrilling Broadway season!”
Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon, who alternate roles in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s nominated revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, also alternated comments. Linney is a nominee in the leading actress category, Nixon as featured actress.
“I am so very proud to be a part of The Little Foxes and this magnificent company,” Linney said. “What a terrific year for new plays and revivals. Hooray for all of us!!”
Added Nixon: “I am so thrilled and incredibly proud of our Little Foxes production and everyone who is working on it. I’m still pinching myself that Laura Linney came up with the unbelievable and unbelievably generous idea of us sharing Regina and Birdie – and that Dan Sullivan and Manhattan Theatre Club had the nerve to actually do it!”
Condola Rashad became a three-time nominee with her nod for best play nominee A Doll’s House, Part 2 and got to share the news immediately with her mother, Tony winner and Theater Hall of Famer Phylicia Rashad.
“Thank you to the Broadway League and The American Theater Wing for honoring our cast and fearless leaders, Sam Gold and Lucas Hnath!” Condola said. “I visited my mother on my day off, woke up in my childhood room to this news, and the most surreal and amazing part of this morning was walking downstairs to find my mother and say ‘Mom, guess what?!’ – One of the proudest daughter moments of my life as of yet. Thank you!”
Denis Jones, nominated for his choreography for Holiday Inn, said, “I’m feeling so grateful this morning. I’ve watched the Tonys since I was a little kid, never dreaming that one day I might be nominated. Getting the opportunity to create dances to the music of the great Irving Berlin, and work with such a tremendous cast and creative team on Holiday Inn was such an honor already, but now I’m walking on air.”
Playwright Steven Levenson, nominated for the book of Dear Evan Hansen (nine nominations, including best musical), said, “I am profoundly honored to be recognized in this incredibly rich season, filled with so much talent and so many of my artistic heroes. I’m so proud of this musical and the brilliant work of our entire company in bringing this story to life. I’m thrilled and humbled. Thank you!”
Mary Beth Piel, who plays the Dowager Empress in Anastasia, is best known as Chris Noth’s mother in The Good Wife. But she has been a stage regular for decades, and her opera chops are in full flower in the new show.
“I am so thrilled and honored to receive this nomination!” she told Deadline. “It’s been 32 years since my first (and only) recognition from the TONY folks, so I find it quite moving. I am deeply grateful for the perfect part at the perfect time in my life. “
Speaking of Mother Russia, the biggest bag of nominations – 12 in all including Best Musical – went to Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Composer-lyricist David Malloy’s rousing fantasy on a chapter from War and Peace began life at the invaluable off-off-Broadway incubator Ars Nova. It played as a steroidal tent show, first downtown and then in the Theater District, before settling, aptly, into the Imperial Theatre, which nominated designer and MacArthur genius Mimi Lien has turned into a glittering, gilded Cyrillic fantasy. So we’re happy to give the last word to Denée Benton, making her Broadway debut as Natasha:
“I am over the moon with gratitude and excitement,” Denton told Deadline. “I feel as if God has been watching my day dreams and here they are unfolding before my eyes. Dave wrote a role that is life changing and it has demanded everything I have to offer, so it is an honor of a lifetime to be recognized for this work. And not to mention recognized alongside the legends whose work I’ve studied for years.”