Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Annual Tony nomination post

I don't post here very often anymore, except on Tony nomination day (or in this case, the day after). As a Drama Desk nominator, I've become more sensitive to the complexities of nominations. (If you're interested, here is the complete list of Drama Desk nominees, a list I'm very proud of.) I've started to dislike the word "snub" because it implies that there is some sort of malicious intent. In the case of the Drama Desks and I assume all awards, people and shows are shortlisted that don't make the final list, sometimes just barely, so it's better to focus on what is on the list, then what's not. Not that any of this will stop me from having opinions about the nominations, but I at least won't use the word snub when talking about them.

Overall, I'm pretty excited about this year's Tony list. There are lots of first-time and history-making nominees. I'm going to do things a little differently this year. Usually I post the complete list of nominations followed by my reactions in each one, but everyone who cares has seen the nominations by now and honestly I'm tired, but I still wanted a place to collect my thoughts.

1) Taylor Mac is nominated for best play for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. I don't think it is the strongest play in this category, but it was daring by today's Broadway standards and I'd rather see a play that takes risks than a boring one. Plus, I believe judy (Taylor Mac's preferred pronoun) is the first gender nonconforming artist to be nominated for a Tony, certainly the first in this category. The rest of the best play category includes a woman (Heidi Schreck) and a POC (Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney), which shouldn't still be such a big deal in 2019, but until the majority of Broadway plays aren't written by white men, it is. All three made their Broadway debuts this season and were nominated. I think it's probably between Schreck's What The Constitution Means To Me and Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman, which were my two favorite Broadway plays of the season, so I'd be ok with either scenario. And even though I said I'd focus about what is on the list than what's not, I'm happy not to see Lucas Hnath's Hillary and Clinton on the list. I would have nominated Straight White Men over Ink.

2) Ain't Too Proud got 12 nominations! I think it suffers the problem of all bio musicals, feeling like a list of what happened in a group's history, and because it's based on the memoir of Otis Williams, its perspective is skewed, but it was one of the most entertaining musicals of the season and the performers were outstanding. It's also only the third musical in Broadway history to have a book written by black woman, which is just insane. It's nice to see it recognized. The only musical to get more nominations is Hadestown, which deserved all its nominations.

3) In terms of new musicals, Be More Chill only got one nomination--best score by Joe Iconis, which is the one that it deserved the most. I would have nominated it for best musical over Beetlejuice.

4) Can we talk about the best featured actor nominations for Gideon Glick (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Benjamin Walker (All My Sons)? These are both very deserving for those particular performances, two of the highlights of their respective shows, but it's even more satisfying because they should have been nominated for other performances in other years (Glick for Significant Other and Walker for American Psycho). 

5) The featured categories this year are particularly stacked. Featured actress in a play is also notable because Julie White and Kristine Nielsen, the two actresses in Gary, only had a week of rehearsal. Nielsen took over Andrea Martin's role and White took took over Nielsen's old role (this is a fascinating article about how it all came together so quickly). Nathan Lane is the only actor in that play to not be nominated, which is a little sad, but I think he'll be fine. Ruth Wilson was a highlight of that production of King Lear, and its only nomination, and Fionnula Flanagan was so memorable in The Ferryman, but I hope Celia Keenan-Bolger wins, and I think it's likely that she will.

6) The featured actor in a musical is also great. I'm happy that some of the people that didn't make it to our final Drama Desk list are here, notably Ephraim Sykes (Ain't Too Proud), Andy Grotelueschen (Tootsie), and double nominee Jeremy Pope (Ain't Too Proud). Also, Patrick Page (Hadestown), since he wasn't eligible for the Drama Desks. I'm happy that we nominated Corbin Bleu, George Salazar, and Patrick Vaill, since they weren't nominated here. I know the Tony and Drama Desk Awards aren't equivalent, but I just want everyone to win awards. I would have also liked to see a nomination for John Behlmann, since I think playing dumb is a skill that doesn't get appreciated enough. See also James Davis, Will Parker in the Oklahoma! revival, who also didn't get enough love this awards season, but again, too much competition. I am available to comfort either one of them should they need it.
7) And the other featured category is, of course, featured actress in a musical. It's odd that Lilli Cooper from Tootsie is in this category, since she is the female lead of that show, but I'm happy to see her in any category. (So many nominations for Spring Awakening alumni, both Broadway productions!) This is probably between scene stealers Amber Gray, Sarah Stiles, and Ali Stroker, and I think it should be a three-way tie (a five-way tie would be fine too). If Stroker wins, she will be the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony.
8) I don't want to jinx it, but Santino Fontana is going to win a Tony Award. He is up against some deserving people, including one of my other favorites, Damon Daunno, but I think it's Fontana's year, and since I am a very vocal fan, that also makes it my year, right?
9) Rachel Chavkin is the only female director nominee in either category and she better win for the way she restaged Hadestown for Broadway. She should have won for The Great Comet as well.
If you read these rambling thoughts, thank you, and congratulations to all the nominees!