The most important things to know about the biggest Tony nominees
The Tony Awards are almost here! The 72nd annual bash honoring the best of the last year on Broadway kicks off on June 10th (on CBS) with Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban taking up the hosting mantle. In a year filled with crossover properties (Mean Girls, Harry Potter, Spongebob), the pair of pop artists who've crossed over to make their mark on Broadway seem the perfect fit to host. They have promised a musical "something" at the top of show, but mostly are nervous about performing/hosting in front of some of their performing heroes, including Nathan Lane, Denzel Washington, Tina Fey, and more. Click through for details about some of the buzziest nominees this season.
Springsteen isn't a nominee, he's a sure thing. The rock'n'roll star is receiving a Special Tony Award for his one-man show Springsteen on Broadway, "a once-in-a-lifetime theatregoing experience for the Broadway stage" according to the Tony committee. Springsteen wasn't eligible for a competitive Tony as he declined to take seats away from fans to make comp tickets available to Tony voters. Most importantly, with this award to his credit, the Boss is now only an "E" away from the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels
The fearless SNL duo are both nominated for the musical version of Mean Girls — Michaels for producing and Fey for writing the book (and adapting her own screenplay to the stage). It's the first Tony nod for both comedy legends, but they've been elevating each other to great heights for over a decade now. Michaels made Fey the first-ever female head writer of SNL, while Fey continues to contribute to the sketch show, recently hosting the season finale and coming up with the idea that her 30 Rock co-star Alec Baldwin was the perfect guest star to portray Donald Trump.
Garfield is nominated for lead actor in a play for his work as Prior Walter in the star-studded revival of Angels in America. He was previously nominated in 2012 portraying one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's two sons in Death of a Salesman. Garfield recently confessed that the acting demands in "Part Two: Perestroika" are so intense that each time it approaches he has "an impulse to fake [his] own death and start a new life growing marijuana in Northern California."
The legendary actor earns his second Tony nomination for leading actor in a play for his work in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. He won in 2010 for Fences before going on to star in and direct a film adaptation of the play. Washington got his start in the theater and it was his Obie-Award winning role in the Off-Broadway Negro Ensemble Company's 1981 production of A Soldier's Play that brought him to the attention of Hollywood. He continues a dedication to elevating the reputation of theater, having committed to adapting all of August Wilson's plays for the screen (big and small).
Leguizamo is receiving a special Tony award for his committment to bringing "diverse stories and audiences to Broadway for three decades." He's also nominated for Best Play for penning his one-man show Latin History for Morons. Leguizamo is one of the surest bets on Broadway, having turned a profit on all four of his one-man shows (a rare feat), but this production marked a departure for him. While his previous shows were auto-biographical, this was dedicated to shining a light on Latin American heroes left out of the national historical narrative — a topic inspired by the wave of anti-immigration politics and activism spurred by the 2016 election.
In the 1960s and 70s, Glenda Jackson was a force to be reckoned with — an actress reflective of the realism, intensity, and grit of a new, less glossy style of filmmaking. She won two Oscars, but then in the 1990s she began a 23-year break from acting, turning instead to politics and serving in British parliament. Three Tall Women, which has earned her a fifth Tony nomination, marks her first appearance on Broadway since she portrayed Lady Macbeth in 1988. Remarkably, Jackson has never won a Tony so it would be a first for the 82-year-old legend and a tribute to a triumphant return to the stage.
You probably never expected to hear the words "Amy Schumer, Tony nominee," but the stand-up comedian has earned her first nomination for her role as Corky, one half of a couple playing host to another belligerent couple at a dinner party. Schumer earned rave reviews (and the sole Tony nod) for her work in the Steve Martin-penned comedy. Appropriately, her spouse was portrayed by another break-out sketch comedy artist — Keegan-Michael Key. Though Schumer has become beloved for her raunchy stand-up comedy and accompanying sketch show, she got her start in theatre, majoring in it in college.
Though he may not yet be a household name, Joshua Henry is the toast of Broadway with his moving portrayal of Billy Bigelow in Carousel. This marks the third Tony nomination for the actor, who prior to Carousel came off a turn as Aaron Burr in the National Tour of Hamilton. Henry's connection with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda goes way back — he made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of Miranda's first hit In the Heights.
Shaloub, best known to TV audiences as OCD detective Monk (and more recently The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's persnickety father), earns his fourth Tony nomination for The Band's Visit. Shaloub portrays s Tewfiq, the conductor of the Alexandria Ceremonial Band that mistakenly arrives in the remote village of Bet Hatikva, and he was instrumental in the musical's move to Broadway. Though Shaloub has a thick list of stage credits, this marked his first time in a Broadway musical.
Slater earns his first Tony nomination for his Broadway debut as the porous, yellow fry cook SpongeBob Squarepants. He was with the show from its early days of development and helped bring a unique vision of the cartoon character to life onstage, blending a genuine human performance with SpongeBob's signature laugh, squeaky shoes, and more.
2018 is an amazing year for Broadway debuts — Hailey Kilgore has earned her first Tony nomination, and she's only 19 years old! The Oregon native earned the lead role of Ti Moune in the revival of Once on this Island from a nationwide talent search. She auditioned for the same role in high school, but ended up not being able to be a part of the musical until now.
The soft-spoken star known for making an art out of being awkward received his first Tony nomination for his role as an apartment security guard. The role marks the mid-way point in a theatrical trifecta for Cera — the second of three Kenneth Lonergan plays he's done on Broadway, having previously appeared in a revival of This is Our Youth. Later this year, he'll be seen opposite Elaine May in her return to Broadway in The Waverly Gallery, another Lonnergan play.
Brian Tyree Henry
TV audiences will recognize Henry from his star turn on Atlanta, which some are hoping will bring him an Emmy nomination later this summer. He scored his first Tony nomination for his role in Lobby Hero (but is no stranger to Broadway having originated the role of the General in Book of Mormon). Henry also had a memorable role as William's brother on This is Us on the first season's acclaimed "Memphis" episode, and he's the long-time BFF of Sterling K. Brown (the two will play bank-robbing brothers in this summer's Hotel Artemis).
This marks Lane's sixth Tony nomination, a nod for his acclaimed portrayal of the villainous Ray Cohn in the starry Angels in America revival. Lane previously won for his work in The Producers and a 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Theater is in his name. Literally. He was born Joseph Lane, but since there was already an actor with that name in Actors Equity, he changed his stage name to Nathan after his favorite musical theatre character, Nathan Detroit. That role, coincidentally, earned him his first Tony nomination in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls.
Though Metcalf has done sterling work on both TV (Roseanne) and film (Lady Bird), she's earned the most recognition on stage. Her work in Three Tall Women is her fifth Tony nomination, and could make for a rare double-header in Tony history as she won last year for A Doll's House, Part Two. The production of Three Tall Women broke the house record for the Golden Theatre box office over Memorial Day weekend and it continues to beat out play revival frontrunner Angels in America in box office grosses.
Norbert Leo Butz
The formidable Broadway star earns his fourth Tony nomination, having won twice previously for Catch Me If You Can and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Though he broke out in romantic leading roles (original Fiyero in Wicked, Jamie in The Last Five Years), Butz has found success in recent years playing more off-beat character parts as with his Tony winning turn playing the gruff FBI agent originated by Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can. That continues with his nomination here for his portrayal of Eliza Doolittle's drunkard father in the Lincoln Center revival of My Fair Lady. Butz is one of only nine actors to ever win a Tony in the "Lead Actor in a Musical" category twice.
Opera fans will recognize Renee Fleming, the long-time darling and leading diva of New York's Metropolitan Opera. But Fleming said goodbye to staged opera in 2017 and now she's earned her first ever Tony nomination for her first singing role on Broadway as Julie's aunt Nettie Fowler in Carousel. It's rare to see an opera star make the jump to musical theatre (especially in today's more pop-driven landscape), so a potential win for Fleming could be history-making.
Alongside Glenda Jackson, Diana Rigg is the other British stage legend up for Tony gold this year. She is nominated for the fourth time for her role as Mrs. Higgins in the Lincoln Center revival of My Fair Lady, a musical first for her having previously earned nominations for Best Actress in a Play (and won for 1994's Medea). This marks Rigg's first major appearance on Broadway since 1994 (she briefly took over a role in Love Letters in 2014). As a young actress, Rigg played Eliza Doolittle in a 1974 London production of Pygmalion, the play that is the basis for the musical -- the woman playing Mrs. Higgins in that production had actually known playwright George Bernard Shaw.
Park has earned her first Tony nomination for playing the sidekick to Queen Bee Regina George, Gretchen Weiners (also heir to the Toaster Strudel fortune). Park continues to build her reputation on Broadway, having portrayed Tuptim in the 2015 Lincoln Center revival of The King and I. She's only 26, but she is driven by the fact that she is a survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, which kept her offstage and in the hospital for most of her sophomore year of high school.
The SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical Score Composers
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical boasts a record-breaking number of nominees in the best original score category with contributors ranging from John Legend to Cyndi Lauper to Steven Tyler to Panic! at the Disco. The score is comprised of songs penned specially for the show by a wide-ranging mix of artists — it's a unique model for piecing together a musical and could result in an eclectic mix of artists taking the stage if they win.
Chita Rivera is one of two recipients of a lifetime achievement Tony award this year. Rivera originated some of the most beloved roles in musical theatre, including Anita in West Side Story, Rose in Bye Bye Birdie, and Velma Kelly in Chicago. At the age of 85, she continues to perform regularly. In 2002, she became the first Hispanic woman to receive the Kennedy Center Honors, and this marks yet another sterling entry on her staggering list of accomplishments.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is the other recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Tony this year — he has previously won seven competitive Tony awards. Webber is the composer behind some of the biggest hits in Broadway history, including Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Evita. He could hit another milestone later this year — if he takes home Emmy gold for producing Jesus Christ Superstar Live!, he will finally achieve the coveted EGOT.