This morning’s nominations are welcome sign of some independence. Fela! (whose producers include Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith) tied the acclaimed musical revival La Cage aux Folles with the most nominations, boasting 11 each. Director Kenny Leon’s much-loved revival of August Wilson’s Fences pulled in 10.Who says the Tonys are a craven attempt to boost only the most popular performers and the most sold-out shows?
True, big stars scored a number of the nominations: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as lead performers in the play revival Fences (both are front-runners in their categories, and pictured in the middle of the photo above); Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in the musical revival A Little Night Music (five-time winner Lansbury is poised to become the winningest performer in Tony history); Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson in A View From the Bridge; Jude Law for Hamlet, and Kelsey Grammer for La Cage aux Folles (pictured far left; his costar, Douglas Hodge, is the favorite for Best Actor in a Musical). Many were making their Broadway debuts.
But among the notable un-nominated are Broadway faves Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, passed over for their star turns in the much-reviled musical The Addams Family (which was left out of the Best Musical race as well). Frequent Tony host Hugh Jackman (and his well-Bonded costar Daniel Craig) were also absent from the Best Actor in a Play list despite the fact that their limited-run play A Steady Rain was a sold-out hit last fall. I’m sure plenty of folks will be debating whether Lane and Jackman got robbed (particularly in the offices at CBS, which will broadcast the Tony Awards on June 13). Add your voice to the comments below.
There were some other surprises, too: The Green Day musical American Idiot (pictured far right above) didn’t get as much love as you might think. Sure, it earned a Best Musical nod — but nothing for anyone in the cast or for Michael Mayer’s direction or Tom Kitt’s brilliant orchestrations. (You try turning rock songs originally performed by a three-member band into choral ballads for a nine-piece ensemble and 20 singers.)
And there was considerable support for productions like the musicals Ragtime and Finian’s Rainbow that have long since closed. (Another eyebrow-raiser: Santo Loquasto, who designed the costumes for the original 1998 production of Ragtime, garnered a nomination for his very similar designs on the revival.) Another short-lived production, Sarah Ruhl’s historical dramedy In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, picked up a Best Play nomination as well as a nod for featured actress Maria Dizzia.
One more disappointment, for me at least: Since the Tonys eliminated the Special Theatrical Event category this year, there was no way to recognize the terrific performance of Carrie Fisher in her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, which had a long and successful run at Roundabout’s Studio 54. (Yes, she was eligible for Best Play and Best Actress in a Play — but was that ever going to happen?) May the Force be with her…always.
What do you think, PopWatchers? What nominations please you most — and whose snub has you up in arms (or jazz hands, as the case may be)?