Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Annual Tony Nomination Post - Angry Edition

Every year I look forward to the Tony nomination announcements and writing this blog post. It got off to a rough start this morning when the live stream didn't work on any of the websites I tried and I had to read the nominations come in on Twitter rather than hear them myself. Then a lot of people/shows I was rooting for didn't get nominated. This season was my first as a Drama Desk nominator. I got to see how close the races can get and how tough the decisions are when you have to narrow down categories. I thought that would make more more sensitive to Tony "snubs," since often just because someone wasn't nominated doesn't mean they weren't seriously considered. But, it still makes me sad when artists don't get the recognition I think they deserve. Plus, the Tonys have way less eligible shows than the Drama Desks. You can read the list of Drama Desk nominees here. It's a list I'm proud of, especially the special awards. But today is about the Tony nominations. So here is the complete list of nominees followed by opinions (they're not all angry!) and predictions.

Best Play
A Doll's House, Part 2
Author: Lucas Hnath
Producers: Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Barry Diller, Universal Stage Productions, The John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, Ambassador Theatre Group, Peter May, Seth A. Goldstein, Heni Koenigsberg, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Al Nocciolino, True Love Productions, Diana DiMenna, Meredith Lynsey Schade, Barbara Freitag & Patty Baker, Benjamin Lowy & Adrian Salpeter, John Mara, Jr. & Benjamin Simpson, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson
Indecent
Author: Paula Vogel
Producers: Daryl Roth, Elizabeth I. McCann, Cody Lassen, Jerry Meyer, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Elizabeth Armstrong, Julie Boardman, CoGo Partners, Nicole Eisenberg, Four Star Productions, GLS Productions, The John Gore Organization, Kathleen K. Johnson, Dana M. Lerner, Jenn Maley, Mano-Horn Productions, Marc Platt, Storyboard Entertainment, Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Vineyard Theatre
Oslo
Author: J.T. Rogers
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Adam Siegel, Hattie K. Jutagir
Sweat
Author: Lynn Nottage
Producers: Stuart Thompson, Louise L. Gund, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Jon B. Platt, Roy Furman, Len Blavatnik, Shelly Mitchell, Scott Rudin, Ted Snowdon, Kevin Emrick, True Love Productions, John Gore, Deborah Taylor/Richard Winkler, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham
So happy for Indecent, a story about the power of art that we all need right now, and Oslo, which made a situation in which we all knew the outcome riveting. I think Sweat is overrated, but I'm not mad about its nomination. Since it won the Pulitzer, it has the best shot at winning, though I'd personally give it to Indecent. Significant Other by Joshua Harmon deserves to be on this list in place of Ibsen fan fiction. 

Best Musical
Come From Away
Producers: Junkyard Dog Productions, Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steve & Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff, Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden & Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler, Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael & Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri & Les Biller, Richard & Sherry Belkin, Gary & Marlene Cohen, Allan Detsky & Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H. Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura Little Theatricals, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment/Molly Morris & Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel/Marjorie & Ron Danz, Pamela Cooper/Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar/Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman/Lauren Stevens, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill & Linda Potter/Rosemary & Kenneth Willman, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre
Dear Evan Hansen
Producers: Stacey Mindich, Mickey Liddell, Hunter Arnold, Caiola Productions, Double Gemini Productions, Fakston Productions, Roy Furman, Harris Karma Productions, On Your Marks Group, Darren Bagert, Roger & William Berlind, Bob Boyett, Colin Callender, Caitlin Clements, Freddy DeMann, Dante Di Loreto, Bonnie & Kenneth Feld, FickStern Productions, Eric & Marsi Gardiner, Robert Greenblatt, Jere Harris and Darren DeVerna, The John Gore Organization, Mike Kriak, Arielle Tepper Madover, David Mirvish, Eva Price, Zeilinger Productions, Adam Zotovich, Ambassador Theatre Group, Independent Presenters Network, The Shubert Organization, Wendy Orshan, Jeffrey M. Wilson, Arena Stage, Molly Smith, Edgar Dobie, Second Stage Theatre, Carole Rothman, Casey Reitz
Groundhog Day The Musical
Producers: Whistle Pig, Columbia Live Stage, The Dodgers, Michael Watt, The Araca Group, Len Blavatnik, Burnt Umber Productions, Michael Coppel, Ken Davenport, Stephen Found, Greenleaf Productions, David Harris, Independent Presenters Network, The John Gore Organization, Stephanie P. McClelland, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Glass Half Full Productions, Marion Alden Badway, Marriner Group, Tommy Mottola, Nederlander Presentations Inc, Daryl Roth, Sonia Friedman Productions, Theater Mogul, Tulbart, David Walsh, Tony & Maureen Wheeler, Jujamcyn Theaters
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Producers: Howard and Janet Kagan, Paula Marie Black, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Jenny Steingart and Jason Eagan, Mary Lu Roffe and Susan Gallin, Diana DiMenna, Mary Maggio/Sharon Azrieli/Robin Gorman, Darren Sussman/Roman Gambourg/Lev Gelfer, Tom Smedes, John Logan, Lisa Matlin, Margie and Bryan Weingarten, Daveed Frazier, Argyle Productions/Jim Kierstead, In Fine Company/Hipzee, Gutterman & Caiola/Backdrop Partners, Siderow Kirchman Productions/SunnySpot Productions, Gordon/Meli Theatricals, Rodger Hess/Larry Toppall, Daniel Rakowski/Matt Ross/Ben Feldman, Mike Karns, The American Repertory Theater, Ars Nova
In a season with so many new musicals, the Tonys seem to be sending a message by only nominating four. I don't disagree that most of the other musicals that opened this season were weak, but I would have loved to see Anastasia on this list. I don't think it's getting the recognition it deserves because it's dismissed as being for tween girls (don't get me started on the condescending, sexist tone of many of the reviews). I really hope Come From Away wins, but Dear Evan Hansen seems like a good bet, and The Great Comet got the most nominations with 12, so there is definitely a lot of love for it. Groundhog Day, thanks for playing.

Best Book of a Musical
Come From Away
Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Dear Evan Hansen
Steven Levenson
Groundhog Day The Musical
Danny Rubin
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Dave Malloy
Interesting that it's the same four musicals in the musical, book, and score categories. That doesn't always happen. Terrence McNally's book for Anastasia took the animated movie and made it much more adult and historically accurate. Yeah, not completely historically accurate, but it's still a fantasy. I also think Roger Taylor and Richard Oberacker's book for Bandstand is deserving. I went in expecting a fluffy musical and was pleasantly surprised with a dark look at PTSD. I wanted it to go a lot farther than it did, but I appreciated that it didn't play it safe.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Come From Away
Music & Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Dear Evan Hansen
Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Groundhog Day The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Music & Lyrics: Dave Malloy
How can anyone not love Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's score for Anastasia? Groundhog Day has one of my favorite musical numbers of the season (spoiler alert: the one with all Phil's unsuccessful suicide attempts), but the rest of the score wasn't at that level. Rooting for Come From Away here, but I think Dear Evan Hansen might take it. It is deserving, but Pasek and Paul's score for Dogfight is even better.

Best Revival of a Play
August Wilson's Jitney
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove, Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons, John Legend/Mike Jackson, Ken Wirth
Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove
Present Laughter
Producers: Jordan Roth, Jujamcyn Theaters, Spencer Ross, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, AC Orange Entertainment Ltd., Grove Entertainment, Stephanie P. McClelland, Eric Falkenstein, Harbor Entertainment, Joe Everett Michaels/Robert F. Ryan, Daryl Roth
Six Degrees of Separation
Producers: Stuart Thompson, Louise L. Gund, Tim Levy, John Breglio, Scott M. Delman, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Frank De La Vega, Jane Bergère, John Gore, Gregory Holt, The Lowy Salpeter Company, Laruffa Hysell Group
If Jitney doesn't win, the Tonys are pointless. How did that mediocre Six Degrees of Separation revival get on this list? I wasn't crazy about Present Laughter either, though I think I'm in the minority. 

Best Revival of a Musical
Falsettos
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Adam Siegel, Hattie K. Jutagir, Jujamcyn Theaters
Hello, Dolly!
Producers: Scott Rudin, Roy Furman, James L. Nederlander, Eli Bush, Universal Stage Productions, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Heni Koenigsberg, Terry Allen Kramer, Seth A. Goldstein, The John Gore Organization, Daryl Roth, The Araca Group, Len Blavatnik, Eric Falkenstein, Ruth Hendel, Independent Presenters Network, Peter May, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Jane Bergère, Scott M. Delman, Wendy Federman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Anita Waxman, Al Nocciolino, Spring Sirkin, Barbara Freitag, John Mara, Jr. & Benjamin Simpson, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson
Miss Saigon
Producers: Cameron Mackintosh
I assume the delightful Hello, Dolly! revival will win, but I'm glad that Falsettos was still remembered in multiple categories. Miss Saigon was the first musical I ever saw, so seeing the revival meant a lot to me, but it's not a competitor. 
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
Chris Cooper, A Doll's House, Part 2
Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Jefferson Mays, Oslo

This is the category that gets most of my anger. First, let's get the positive out of the way. I'm so glad that Denis Arndt was remembered for his moving performance in Heisenberg (his Broadway debut at 77!). But the fact that Gideon Glick wasn't nominated for Significant Other is ridiculous. If you read this, you'll see I have a lot of feelings about his performance. But I think it is objectively deserving of all the awards. His face in the last scene of the show conveyed so much sadness and hope at the same time that it alone is worthy of a nomination. What makes this even more upsetting is that this isn't a strong category. Chris Cooper didn't have much to do in A Doll's House Part 2 and was the only actor in that cast that didn't leave an impression. Corey Hawkins was fine. Jefferson Mays was wonderful as always, but it feels more like a featured performance since Oslo is such an ensemble show.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Cate Blanchett, The Present
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Laura Linney, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House, Part 2

I guess if you're famous, you get nominated for a Tony. Unless your name is Daniel Radcliffe. I think Laurie Metcalf deserves to win and I didn't even like that play.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Ben Platt will deservedly win. I don't think the musical would work as well without him since the lead character's actions are so questionable, but you still care about him as portrayed by Platt. Christian Borle getting nominated for Falsettos is kind of a slap in the face to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, isn't it? But he basically deserves a nomination every time he steps on a stage. Where is Jon Jon Briones from Miss Saigon? My Tony campaign for him was a failure. I would have given David Hyde Pierce's slot to him (I say with love because his work was so good in A Life that I've finally forgiven him for 2007). It would have been nice to see Corey Cott from Bandstand here too. It's too bad this is Platt's year because otherwise I think Andy Karl could finally win a Tony. One day. One day.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon

I think this diva battle will go to Bette Midler and I'll be happy about it. It's nice to see Eva Noblezada recognized even if Jon Jon Briones wasn't. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Danny DeVito, Arthur Miller's The Price
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
John Douglas Thompson, August Wilson's Jitney

This is a good category, but Jefferson Mays was the best thing about The Front Page, not Nathan Lane. Sorry everybody who thinks otherwise. I'm rooting for Michael Aronov. I'm glad so many actors from Oslo were recognized, but it would have also been nice to see Anthony Azizi here. Also, I knew it was a long shot, but Indecent's Richard Topol left a strong impression on me. That's such an ensemble show, though, so I guess here is where I make my annual plea for an ensemble category.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll's House, Part 2
Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
Condola Rashad, A Doll's House, Part 2
Michelle Wilson, Sweat

Another strong category. I'm probably rooting for Cynthia Nixon because her Birdie was the highlight of both versions of The Little Foxes. But Condola Rashad and Jayne Houdyshell brought so much to that play I don't like.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos

Mike Faist's nomination is probably the biggest surprise of all. I am always team Gavin Creel, but I'm also team Brandon Uranowitz, although all these guys are great. This is also the most attractive category.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Oh, so the Tony nominators did see Anastasia. I think it's fair to say that this is the strongest category. I would be happy with any of them winning or a five-way tie, but if I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Stephanie J. Block.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
David Gallo, August Wilson's Jitney
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page
Michael Yeargan, Oslo

The set for The Play That Goes Wrong is the most clever aspect of the show, but I hope this goes to Jitney.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Groundhog Day The Musical
David Korins, War Paint
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!

I think Groundhog Day should lose points for how often the set broke down. Actually, the set for War Paint broke the night I saw it as well. Anyway, The Great Comet should win. Mimi Lien totally transformed the Imperial Theatre.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Toni-Leslie James, August Wilson's Jitney
David Zinn, A Doll's House, Part 2

As I said, I wasn't crazy about the Present Laughter revival, but Cobie Smulders's dress was exquisite. Still, I'm all about Jitney.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, Anastasia
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Catherine Zuber, War Paint

So many beautiful dresses on Broadway this year. I'd give it to Anastasia.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Jane Cox, August Wilson's Jitney
Donald Holder, Oslo
Jennifer Tipton, A Doll's House, Part 2

Indecent. Indecent. Indecent. That's all I have to say about that.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Come From Away
Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Japhy Weideman, Dear Evan Hansen

How did Bandstand not get nominated here? The nominators really hated it, I guess. I'd give it to The Great Comet.
Best Direction of a Play
Sam Gold, A Doll's House, Part 2
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson's Jitney
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Daniel Sullivan, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

Rebecca Taichman was so involved in the creation of Indecent that it should really go to her. I'd accept Ruben Santiago-Hudson, but I really want this to go to Taichman.

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day The Musical
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

As much as I love Come From Away, I think best musical and best direction should go to different shows. Direction should go to Rachel Chavkin. The Great Comet is all about the experience she created and I don't think it would be as strong a musical without her contributions.

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day The Musical
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical
Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

I hope it goes to Bandstand.

Best Orchestrations

Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

The last time I'll say that Anastasia was robbed, but I don't have complaints about any of these nominees.

Anyway, congrats to all the nominees! I do think most of you are deserving and none of you are reading this. I'm still very much looking forward to watching the Tonys.

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