Twenty-four hours haven’t been nearly enough to settle, in my mind anyway, yesterday’s Tony Awards Sorkin Snub, but for the most part, the nominations sit well. Certainly they represent a decent scope of styles and approaches that make for a Broadway inclusive enough to find space for something as quirky (understatement of the day) as Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus and as traditional (if woke) Kiss Me, Kate.
I wrote about the snubs and surprises of the Tony Award nominations yesterday, so today I’ll walk through some random Broadway byways – congratulations, disappointments and shout-outs to performances and productions that didn’t make the Tony cut but merit remembering as this season heads to a close (Tony eligibility is done and dusted; the ceremony is June 9).
Newly Formed Theatre Producers of Color Group Sets Tuition-Free Mentorship Program
Best Musical Of the big, end-of-ceremony categories, this one probably has the least to quibble with, though I will: Be More Chill should have been here. Joe Iconis’ youth-focused musical might not speak as loudly to Broadway audiences as it did to their Off Broadway (or internet) counterparts, and it certainly couldn’t and shouldn’t topple either Hadestown or Tootsie from the musical-to-beat spot, but a case could be made for it over any of the other three nominees (Ain’t Too Proud, Beetlejuice, The Prom). And yet I’m happy that underdog The Prom made the cut.
Rebecca Naomi Jones Speaking of should-have-beens. The deceptively calm center of Oklahoma! – her Laurey is our entry into the phantasmagoria that is Daniel Fish’s once-in-a-generation reimagining – Rebecca Naomi Jones is this year’s no-nomination heartbreak. Special mention: Sophia Anne Caruso, the young powerhouse singer who, for me, was the best part of Beetlejuice.
Musical Actors Reeve Carney might have divided critics with his lead performance in Hadestown, but I truly can’t imagine anyone else in the role. His ethereal falsetto, sharing space with the basso profundo of the nominated Patrick Page made for one of this season’s most remarkable pairings. And though I can’t figure who I’d cut in their crowded categories, Be More Chill‘s Will Roland and George Salazar delivered really terrific performances that fueled the long journey of this show. Special mentions: James Davis and Patrick Vaill, Oklahoma!’s Will Parker and Jud Fry
Play Actors Again, crowded roster, and Bryan Cranston (Network), Paddy Considine (The Ferryman) and Jeff Daniels (To Kill A Mockingbird) are unmovable. Could I hit-delete Adam Driver (Burn This) or Jeremy Pope (Choir Boy) to make way for John Lithgow (Hillary and Clinton) or Nathan Lane (Gary)? Yeah, I could consider it. (And no amount of category maneuvering could put Lithgow in the featured actor slot.)
Lear As I suggested yesterday, had it not been for the omission of To Kill A Mockingbird from the Best Play category, the “Snub” news would undoubtedly have focused on Glenda Jackson’s non-nomination for Leading Actress/Play. Did Tony nominators want to share the wealth a bit (Jackson won a Tony last year for Three Tall Women)? Was the cross-gender casting too stunt-y? Did it all just seem somehow too easy for Jackson? Nah. Laurie Metcalf won for 3TW last year too, and A Doll’s House Part 2 the year before. And the cross-gender casting was no more stunt-like than the gross-generational casting in Mockingbird, which is to say not stunty at all. So maybe that too easy option just a smidgen, but most likely the other candidates are just all so strong. I couldn’t pick any of them to stand down. Special mention: Pedro Pascal was as commanding as the villainous Edmund in King Lear as he was charming in Game of Thrones, where he was everyone’s favorite libertine Oberyn Martell.
And finally… The following didn’t make the Tony roster, but they haven’t been squeezed out of a brain overcooked and jam-packed from these last very busy weeks of the Broadway season. Congratulations to them, one and all, and in no particular order:
Fra Fee, Michael Carney in The Ferryman
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird
The toy drop in Mike Birbiglia’s The New One
Joe Mantello’s direction of The Boys In The Band
Phyllis Somerville, Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird
Lucas Hedges, Daniel Reed in The Waverly Gallery
Leslie Kritzer, Delia in Beetlejuice
Gabrielle Hamilton’s mesmerizing performance (pictured at top) of the dream dance in Oklahoma!
Mike Iveson’s memory of a gay bashing in What The Constitution Means To Me
Zak Orth, Mark in Hillary And Clinton
Stephanie Styles’ performance of “Always True To You In My Fashion,” Kiss Me, Kate
And all those kids in The Ferryman
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