Broadway is increasingly driven by the engine of celebrity power, but the 700 voters who selected the 68th Tony Award nominations—theater’s equivalent of the Oscars—most definitely don’t have stars in their eyes.
That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the nominations announced by Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu at the Paramount Hotel in Times Square, complete with a cameo appearance by Hugh Jackman who will host the Tonys on June 8 at Radio City Music Hall. The four musicals of the Broadway season with the highest-profile—Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway, If/Then and Cabaret—all got nominated, but when it came to the most prestigious awards, the quartet might have had, well, considerably more to sing about.
Rocky, the musical adaptation of Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 Oscar-winning boxing film, secured a nomination for its leading man Andy Karl but was shut out for Best Musical. Woody Allen’s gangster comedy Bullets over Broadway did land Woody a Best Book of a Musical nomination, while director Susan Stroman got nominated for Best Choreography and actors Nick Codero and Jarrod Specter are contending for Best Featured Performance in a Musical. But it’s hard not to regard Bullets’ six nominations as an underwhelming return for a show that, until it opened last month, was considered a hot favorite for sweeping Tony glory.
If/Then, a huge commercial success on the Great White Way, too missed out on a Best Musical nomination though its star Idina Menzel was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical and it picked up a Best Original Score nod. As for Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s revival of Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret at Studio 54, box office draws Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming were not nominated; supporting performers Linda Edmond and Danny Burstein were.
The leading musical winner was A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder which picked up ten nominations. The musical update of Kind Hearts and Coronets will compete with Carole King jukebox musical Beautiful, Disney musical Aladdin and the sleeper hit Duke Ellington-inspired After Midnight for the Best Musical prize. Relative Broadway newbie Jesse Mueller, who played Carole King and was described by New York Times critic Ben Brantley as “immensely likeable” is up against Mary Bridget Davies—who also portrayed an iconic musician in A Night with Janis Joplin—Sutton Foster for Violet and Kelly O’Hara for The Bridges of Madison County. Muller told The Daily Beast how much Beautiful’s seven nominations meant to those on the show: "I'm so happy and thrilled for the entire show. How great to be recognized in so many categories.”
On the musical revival front, star power did shine through with Neil Patrick Harris nominated for his transsexual turn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hedwig picked up eight nominations including for Best Revival of a Musical in which it will compete with Violet and Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s fresh staging of Les Misérables.
But when it comes to drama, a series of A-listers got snubbed. James Franco got mixed notices for his performance in Anna D. Shapiro’s production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and it transpires that Tony voters tended to agree with New York Times critic Brantley, who was subsequently dubbed by Franco a “little bitch”, for his review in which he called the polymath’s performance “a tight, internal performance begging for a camera’s close-up."
What does Daniel Radcliffe have to do to get a Tony nomination? The erstwhile Harry Potter was considered unlucky not to be in the running back in 2011 on Broadway for his athletic performance in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This time around he received rave notices for his turn as physically disabled dreamer Billy in Martin McDonagh’s play The Cripple of Inishmaan—Brantley for one buzzed his performance “embodied the essence of this beautiful revival.” But no Tony nomination ensued, though the play is in the running for Best Revival of a Play and there were also shoutouts for Radcliffe’s spunky female co-star Sarah Greene and director Michael Grandage.
Radcliffe’s elder British compatriots Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen can count themselves unfortunate for not getting recognition for their performances in the double bill of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot. Denzel Washington won his first Tony for Fences in 2010 but he won’t be adding to it with his acclaimed performance of A Raisin in the Sun shut out at this year’s Tonys.
One of the most intriguing categories in this year’s Tonys is Best Leading Actor in a Play. Franco’s Of Mice and Men co-star Chris O’Dowd did receive a nomination for his performance as Lennie. He’ll battle it out with Brits Mark Rylance and Samuel Barnett for their performances in Twelfth Night and Richard III respectively—which formed part of a hit Shakespearean double bill last winter- and Tony Shalhoub for Broadway love letter Act One. But the overwhelming favorite for the category is Bryan Cranston for playing LBJ in civil rights drama All the Way (unless there’s an upset along the lines of when Barnett’s The History Boys co-star James Corden beat Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2012 for his performance in One Man Two Guvnors).
Denzel might have been left out in the cold for A Raisin in the Sun but the play’s actresses will be at the Tonys. LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who only came on board the play at the eleventh hour, will be contending with Tyne Daly for her performance in Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons, Cherry Jones’s powerhouse turn in The Glass Menagerie, Audra McDonald- who has five Tony Awards to her name—in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill and 86-year-old Estelle Parsons in The Velocity of Autumn. (Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose also got nominated as Best Featured Actresses for A Raisin in the Sun. )
Cross-dressers monopolized the Best Featured Performance by an Actor category. British star Stephen Fry and Brian J. Smith (The Glass Menagerie) are the only actors in their category to have dressed like men for their performance in The Glass Menagerie; Reed Birney for Casa Valentina and Paul Chahidi and Mark Rylance, both for Twelfth Night, acted in drag.
Also striking was the fact that the Best Directors for the Play all helmed revivals. The Best Play nominees—Act One, All the Way, Casa Valentina, Mothers and Sons and Outside Mullingar each have plenty of devotees—yet none has proven a big commercial success demonstrating that the new play could be in much better shape. A star appearing on Broadway in a hit new play that knocked out Tony voters? Don’t build your hopes up.
Best Play Act One All the Way Casa Valentina Mothers and Sons Outside Mullingar
Best Musical After Midnight Aladdin Beautiful - The Carole King Musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Revival of a Play The Cripple of Inishmaan The Glass Menagerie A Raisin in the Sun Twelfth Night
Best Revival of a Musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch Les Miserables Violet
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night Bryan Cranston, All the Way Chris O'Dowd, Of Mice and Men Mark Rylance, Richard III Tony Shalhoub, Act One
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Ramin Karimloo, Les Miserables Andy Karl, Rocky Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin Sutton Foster, Violet Idina Menzel, If/Then Jesse Mueller, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Kelly O'Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play Reed Birney, Casa Valentina Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play Sarah Green, The Cripple of Inishmaan Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical Danny Burstein, Cabaret Nick Codero, Bullets Over Broadway Joshua Henry, Violet James M. Iglehart, Aladdin Jarrod Specter, Bullets Over Broadway
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical Linda Emond, Cabaret Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Anika Larson, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Adriane Lenox, After Midnight Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Direction of a Play Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie
Best Direction of a Musical Warren Carlyle, After Midnight Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Leigh Silverman, Violet Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Book of a Musical Chad Beguelin, Aladdin Douglas McGrath, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Woody Allen, Bullets Over Broadway Robert L. Friedman, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater Aladdin (Music: Alan Menkin; Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Begeulin) The Bridges of Madison County (Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown) A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Music: Steven Lutvak; Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak) If/Then (Music: Tom Kitt; Lyrics: Brian Yorkey)
Best Choreography Warren Carlyle, After Midnight Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine, Rocky Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway
Best Orchestrations Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County Steve Sidwell, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Scenic Design of a Play Beowulf Boritt, Act One Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie Es Devlin, Machinal Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Best Scenic Design of a Musical Christopher Barreca, Rocky Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway
Best Costume Design of a Play Jane Greenwood, Act One Michael Krass, Machinal Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
Best Costume Design of a Musical Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway Arianne Philips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Isabel Toledo, After Midnight
Best Sound Design of a Play Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill Dan Moses Schreier, Act One Matt Tierney, Machinal
Best Sound Design of a Musical Peter Hylenski, After Midnight Tim O'Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Mick Potter, Les Miserables Brian Ronan, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Best Lighting Design of a Play Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan Jane Cox, Machinal Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie Japhy Wideman, Of Mice and Men
Best Lighting Design of a Musical Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Christopher Akerlind, Rocky Howell Binkley, After Midnight Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Jane Greenwood
Regional Theatre Award Signature Theatre
Isabelle Stevenson Award Rosie O'Donnell
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre Joseph P. Benincasa Joan Marcus Charlotte Wilcox