As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, EW is taking a closer look at this season’s nominated selection of new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor. Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Revival of a Play. (See also: Best Musical, Best Play and Best Revival of a Musical.)
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Opened: March 15, 2012
Closed: June 2, 2012
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield, Linda Emond, Finn Wittrock
Written by Arthur Miller; directed by Mike Nichols
Synopsis: Miller’s classic American story follows traveling salesman Willy Loman (Hoffman) as he reaches the end of his career. After a long life of work and exhaustion, Loman tries to piece together his future with steadfast wife Linda (Emond) and mend his strained relationship with unambitious son Biff (Garfield).
EW’s Review: “Compliments must be paid. Director Mike Nichols’ stirring Death of a Salesman harbors no radical agenda, no modern glosses or reinterpretations of Arthur Miller’s text. Instead, Nichols & Co. play it straight. And rarely has a classic work seemed straighter, or truer. Nichols restores key elements of Elia Kazan’s original 1949 production (which he saw as a Manhattan high schooler), including Alex North’s jazzy incidental music and Jo Meilziner’s scenic design, placing a stylized, sepia-toned version of Willy Loman’s Brooklyn house center stage. A” (Thom Geier)
Tony nominations: 7 — Best Revival of a Play; Best Leading Actor in a Play (Philip Seymour Hoffman); Best Featured Actor in a Play (Andrew Garfield); Best Featured Actress in a Play (Linda Emond); Best Direction of a Play (Mike Nichols); Best Lighting Design of a Play (Brian MacDevitt); Best Sound Design of a Play (Scott Lehrer)
Odds on winning: Salesman will likely be one of this year’s biggest winners (in both quantity and categorical heft). In addition to runaway victories for Best Revival of a Play, expect deserved wins for Hoffman and Garfield in their acting categories, as well as an all-but-guaranteed Tony for director Nichols. It’s also worth noting that Emond stands the strongest chance of knocking out competitor Judith Light in the Featured Actress race.
Finn Wittrock on his first time meeting the cast: “I remember walking into the very first rehearsal and seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman just sitting there looking at the set. I had to go to the bathroom to just make sure that this was still real life, and it was, and then from that moment on, they were nothing but gracious and welcoming. I think one of Mike’s — I can call him Mike, which is cool — biggest contributions is that he really wanted to make it a family play, and not just a play about a man. I felt really warmly immersed in their world very quickly.”
Linda Emond on why the show received such critical acclaim: “It’s really rare when the pieces are right. You’ve got to give Mike Nichols a lot of credit for that, because that’s his job. He got the pieces right, and he made everything around it,” she says, citing Nichols’ re-creation of Jo Mielziner’s set design for the original production, Brian MacDevitt’s lighting design, Ann Roth’s costumes, and Scott Lehrer’s sound design. “There were a lot of like-minded individuals in the house, but in the end, it’s Arthur Miller. I’m really proud that we attempted one of the greatest plays ever written and I feel like we did rise to the occasion.”