Nominees for the 70th Annual Tony Awards were announced this morning, and — surprise! — Hamilton led the pack with a record-breaking 16 nominations. Thanks to the hip-hop frontrunner and a handful of other lauded shows, including The Color Purple, Shuffle Along, and Eclipsed, nominees across categories are a refreshingly diverse bunch. The announcement also saw a number of surprise snubs (no Audra!) and some less unexpected (sorry, American Psycho). Let’s break it down.
Hamilton’s March to Victory
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize-winning (and hysteria-inducing) musical about America’s founding will undoubtedly sweep most of the major awards at the June 12 ceremony. Several categories, including both Best Leading and Best Featured Actor find several of the production’s stars competing against each other. But the show is running a one-horse race in many other categories, including Best Musical — which may be some consolation to those shut out of this year’s crowded field.
New Musicals Cowering in Alexander’s Shadows
Bright Star, Waitress, Shuffle Along, and School of Rock are all taking on Hamilton in the Best Musical category, a thankless race that left some other big bets out in the cold. Director Rupert Goold, who was nominated for his work on King Charles III, saw his flashy take on American Psycho largely shut out, with just two design awards and no nod for star Benjamin Walker.
Seth Rudetsky’s Disaster! musical, which is packed with Broadway names and opened to mixed reviews, was also passed over, save for a nod to Jennifer Simard’s standout performance. The Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet! also received just one nomination for choreography. Family-friendly Tuck Everlasting, from Book of Mormon director Casey Nicholaw, also received just one nod for design.
Stars Left Out in the Cold
Big names showed up across the acting categories, including Lupita Nyong’o (Eclipsed), Sophie Okonedo (The Crucible), Jessica Lange and Michael Shannon (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), and Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels (Blackbird). But many of this season’s star-vehicle shows were notably absent, including the critically slammed China Doll starring Al Pacino, Forest Whitaker’s quiet turn in Hughie (nominated for its scenery), Bruce Willis’ debut in Stephen King’s Misery, for which Laurie Metcalf snagged a nod, and Keira Knightley’s well-received debut in Thérèse Raquin (also only nom’d for its stunning set).
Perhaps most surprising was Tony darling Audra McDonald not landing a nod for her performance in Shuffle Along, in a race for Best Lead Actress in a Musical that’s crowded with critically acclaimed newcomers, like The Color Purple’s Cynthia Erivo, Bight Star’s Carmen Cusack, and Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson was also left out for her turn in The Color Purple, Ben Wishaw was passed over in The Crucible, and Broadway turned TV star Jesse Tyler Ferguson saw no love for his solo show Fully Committed.
As Playbill points out, all four of this year’s Best Play nominees, Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Stephen Karam’s The Humans, and Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, represent Broadway debuts for each of the playwrights, all of whom are under 40.
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Audra McDonald Shines in Star-Packed Musical ‘Shuffle Along’ on Broadway: REVIEW
Jessica Lange Is Astonishing in ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ on Broadway: REVIEW
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Is ‘Fully Committed’ on Broadway: REVIEW
Sara Bareilles’ ‘Waitress’ Serves Up Musical Delights on Broadway: REVIEW
‘American Psycho’ The Musical Gushes Blood, Sex and Money on Broadway: REVIEW
Saoirse Ronan and Ben Whishaw Open in ‘The Crucible’ on Broadway: REVIEW
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell Musical ‘Bright Star’ Opens on Broadway: REVIEW
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: joan marcus, jeremy daniels, brigitte lacombe)