The Tony nominators spread the joy to 25 of 37 eligible shows this morning, giving multiple nods to box office smashes that included the shoo-ins – Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!, check. Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen, check. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole in War Paint, check. – while still managing to cause some pain in several quarters, including those occupied by a few of the season’s biggest audience pleasers.
(And don’t forget that three of the most acclaimed performances of the season weren’t even in the running: Glenn Close, reprising as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, already won for her original Norma Desmond; Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, the stars of Sunday In The Park With George, were out of the running because the producers pulled the revival from awards’ consideration.)
It was no surprise that the nominators ignored the mostly reviled Paramour, which marked Cirque du Soleil’s first made-for-Broadway venture. Also shut out among the new musicals: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Amélie (along with its star, Phillipa Soo, who left Hamilton for the adaptation of the hit indie film) and A Bronx Tale, which has been a high-grossing musical despite critics’ indifference. In the musical revival category, both of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s entries – Cats and Sunset Boulevard – went away empty-handed.
Left out of the running in the best musical category (though nominated in others) were War Paint and Bandstand, as were Bandstand‘s leading couple Laura Osnes and Corey Cott.
The four nominees for Best Play (A Doll’s House, Part 2, Oslo, Indecent and Sweat) came away with multiple nominations. Heisenberg, one of the best-reviewed shows of the season, earned a nod for star Denis Arndt but not for his co-star, Mary-Louise Parker. And while the Tony Administration Committee bestowed an honorary award on Gareth Fry and Peter Malkin, who designed the extraordinary aural environment for The Encounter, the Simon McBurney tour-de-force was otherwise shut out.
One surprise among the contenders for Best Play Revival was the absence of The Front Page, one of the season’s biggest box office hits, though star Nathan Lane got the nod. Two other star vehicles – The Cherry Orchard, with Diane Lane, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses, with Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer, got the cold shoulder. Also ignored were two smashing turns: Allison Janney, in best revival nominee Six Degrees of Separation, and Kate Burton in the Kevin Kline-led and nominated revival of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter. And newcomer Barrett Doss, who’s wonderful in the Andie MacDowell role in Groundhog Day, was left out of the extremely competitive featured actress in a musical category.
So who might have been unexpectedly happy this morning? Producer Scott Rudin has gone all out for Hello, Dolly! (10 nominations) but took a laudable risk with Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, a new play’s struggled despite ecstatic notices; its eight nominations should help pump the Golden Theatre box office. Cate Blanchett, in her Broadway debut, was nominated for The Present.
Come From Away, probably the only feel-good show that could have emerged from the ashes of 9/11, is a hot contender in the Best Musical category, which until recently was looking like a sure thing for Dear Evan Hansen. And while it was expected, the nominators gave a big thumbs up to the revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s musical Falsettos, including a nomination for Christian Borle, who then transitioned to the unloved Charlie, and the long-deserving Stephanie Block.
Anastasia came away with just two nominations, for Linda Cho’s St. Petersburg-to-Paris costumes and a lovely, heartfelt performance by Mary Beth Peil. And let’s not forget Danny DeVito, who steals The Price from his formidable accomplices Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht.