2010 Tony Award Nominations

Tony! Toni! Toné!

The Tony nominations were announced today!!! What a glorious day. Alas, American Idiot only garnered three nominations (Best Musical; Scenic Design, Christine Jones; and Lighting Design, Kevin Adams – my boss thinks that the lack of love for the Idiots is Spring Awakening backlash. Maybe he's right but that's not how you do business; anyway, more on that frustration below; ) but the announcements were exciting nonetheless.

38 shows opened on Broadway in the 2009-2010 theatre season. Of those, I’ve seen (or will have seen by the time the Tonys are awarded) 20 of these musicals and plays, meaning I’ve seen 49% of what’s opened. I mention this for the benefit of those – like my brother – who think I’m obsessed and see everything: This is empirical proof that I’m not and I don’t (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Tony nominators, however, do have to see everything. Read this
interesting article from the NY Times for a peek behind the scenes of the Tony nominating committee.

As is my usual award show pattern, below is a select list of nominees (for a full list, including all the design categories, visit
tonyawards.com) along with my color commentary. And because I don’t want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing (watch The West Wing, season four, “Election Night”) I won’t expressly make predictions. I have also listed what is still running and what has closed (including whether it was a limited run or an open ended run that closed) for those of you planning a theatre outing in the near future.

First, the Musical categories:
Best New Musical
  • American Idiot (open)
  • Fela! (open)
  • Memphis (open)
  • Million Dollar Quartet (open)

    They got it right in this category. American Idiot, Fela! and Memphis were all in my personal nomination predictions, with Addams Family, Million Dollar Quartet and Come Fly Away as the wild card. I have seen each of these contenders. Obviously, I’m most excited that American Idiot was nominated. Keep everything crossed until June 13!
Best Musical Revival
  • Finian’s Rainbow (closed)
  • La Cage Aux Folles (open)
  • A Little Night Music (open, though Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury leave on June 20)
  • Ragtime (closed)

    The nominations in this category shook out exactly as I suspected. I have seen all of these except La Cage...
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
  • Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
  • Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
  • Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
  • Chad Kimbell, Memphis
  • Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!

    Wrong. Yes, Sahr Ngaujah and Chad Kimbell deserve nods (though I think Sahr should be considered in tandem with the person he shares the role with, Kevin Mambo, but the nominating committee botched that months ago) and from what I hear so does Douglas Hodge. But they left out John Gallagher, Jr., for Sean Hayes? Unacceptable.
Best Leading Actress in a Musical
  • Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
  • Montego Glover, Memphis
  • Christiane Noll, Ragtime
  • Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

    Yep, no surprises here. I have seen each performance in this category. All the nominations are deserved. Without making a prediction, per se, look for star wattage to win out over (two, in particular) great performances.
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
  • Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
  • Robin de Jesus, La Cage aux Folles
  • Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
  • Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

    The nominating committee got this category wrong again this year. (Last year, they left out Aaron Tveit in favor of eventual winner, though hardly deserving, Gregory Jbara.) Kevin Chamberlin? Really? No Tony Vincent, who is devilishly seductive in American Idiot? Unacceptable. I do agree with Christopher Fitzgerald, Levi Kreis and Bobby Steggert, though.
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
  • Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
  • Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
  • Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
  • Karin Plantadit, Come Fly Away
  • Lillias White, Fela!

    I’m appalled that neither Rebecca Naomi Jones nor Christina Sajous were nominated. Katie Finneran was my least favorite part of Promises, Promises. I know most of the critics (and the audience) disagree, but her performance was so cartoonish. And Lillias White, a bona fide diva, and Angela Lansbury were both good in their shows, but what about a little love for the young ladies? I'm also a little surprised that Terri White wasn't nominated for Finian's Rainbow.
Best Direction of a Musical
  • Christopher Ashley, Memphis
  • Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
  • Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
  • Bill T. Jones, Fela!

    Unacceptable. Michael Mayer wasn’t nominated? What the ****?!? The nominating committee obviously has no appreciation for Mayer’s vision and the enormous task he so expertly undertook to translate a record onto the stage. Shame on you, nominating committee. I am glad Bill T. Jones was nominated; his directorial vision no doubt made the show the affecting story it is rather than a dance show. But a nom for Ragtime? Yes, it was a good production and yes it was different from the original, but I don’t think the director’s vision of the early 1900s was more critical to the (non) success of the musical than Mayer’s vision of the early 2000s.
Best Choreographer
  • Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
  • Bill T. Jones, Fela!
  • Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
  • Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

    You got some ‘splainin’ to do, nominating committee. How do you leave out Steven Hogget (American Idiot) and Sergio Trujillo (Memphis)? Did you watch the Idiots’ bodies convulsing on stage and expressing the story with their bodies? Did you see the opening number of Memphis, when the young folks more than get their groove on? I’m a fan of Rob Ashford, but if he were left out to the benefit of Hoggett or Trujillo, I wouldn’t question it for a moment.
Best Book of a Musical
  • Everyday Rapture, Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott
  • Fela!, Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones
  • Memphis, Joe DiPietro
  • Million Dollar Quartet, Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux

    No real surprises here. I’ve seen all the nominees in this category. Memphis has the most original book as it’s not based on anything other than an idea, and it’s the most traditional book musical, but theatre enthusiasts, (which, Tony voters presumably are) will love the passion and relate-ability of Everyday Rapture.
Best Score
  • The Addams Family, Andrew Lippa
  • Enron, Adam Cork and Lucy Prebble
  • Fences, Branford Marsalis
  • Memphis, David Bryan and Joe DiPietro

    No surprises here, either, given the slim number of options for original, non-revival scores on the boards this season. (Note that neither American Idiot nor Fela! were eligible in this category because less than 50% of their scores were written specifically for the stage.)
Best Orchestrations
  • Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
  • Aaron Johnson, Fela!
  • Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
  • Daryl Waters + David Bryan, Memphis

    How could they leave out Tom Kitt? And for Promises, Promises? What? This is actionable. See, I’m taking action now and saying it’s wrong! Kitt absolutely deserves to be nominated for his beautiful and haunting and lush orchestrations of American Idiot. For shame, nominating committee.
And now, the Play categories
Best New Play
  • In the Next Room (closed)
  • Next Fall (open)
  • Red (limited – playing through June 27)
  • Time Stands Still (limited – closed, after extending)

    No surprises here, either. Next Fall and Red are the only ones still running, and Next Fall is the only one that’s an open ended run. While that doesn’t always play into the nominations, it sometimes plays into the decisions of the voters. (They have been known to choose the winner based on what is profitable for producers, either on the Great White Way or on tour.)
Best Play Revival
  • Fences (limited – playing through July 11)
  • Lend Me a Tenor (open)
  • The Royal Family (limited – closed)
  • A View from the Bridge (limited – closed)

    I actually haven’t seen any of these, though I’ll be seeing Fences later this month. Still, based on the buzz, I’m surprised Lend Me a Tenor was nominated. I thought Hamlet would receive a nod instead.
Best Leading Actor in a Play
  • Jude Law, Hamlet
  • Alfred Molina, Red
  • Liev Schreiber, A View From the Bridge
  • Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

    No real surprised here. I’ve only seen Christopher Walken (again, I’ll see Denzel later this month) but both Jude Law and Liev Schreiber are said to have given phenomenal performances. I’m a little disappointed Patrick Breen, of Next Fall, wasn’t nominated, but all these guys are movie stars…Though, speaking of movie stars, I am a little surprised that neither Hugh Jackman nor Daniel Craig were nominated for A Steady Rain. I didn’t see it, but reviews were generally favorable; their downfall was probably that they were good in a reportedly sub-par play.
Best Leading Actress in a Play
  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Valerie Harper, Looped
  • Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
  • Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
  • Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family
    Not much to say here. Viola Davis supposedly gives a powerhouse performance (she’s already a Tony winner and is an August Wilson veteran) and I’ll let you know what I think at the end of the month.
Best Featured Actor in a Play
  • David Alan Grier, Race
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
  • Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
  • Stephen Kunken, Enron
  • Eddie Redmayne, Red

    I’m disappointed Cotter Smith (Next Fall) was left out, but as of the moment I haven’t seen any of these performances. (Superior Donuts is closed, but Hill was reportedly very good.) I won’t see Race because I thoroughly dislike David Mamet; I’m seeing Enron and Fences later in May and I have Red penciled in for June. I’ll revise my reaction to this as necessary.
Best Featured Actress in a Play
  • Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room
  • Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
  • Jessica Hecht, A View from the Bridge
  • Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
  • Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor
    I don’t have much to say, having seen none of the nominees. I should note, though, that Scarlett Johansson’s nomination is not for show; critics raved about her performance. The one notable snub, in my opinon, is Alicia Silverstone for Time Stands Still. She was very good and both I and the majority of critics really liked her performance - she brought depth to an otherwise easy-to-throw-away character.
Best Direction of a Play
  • Michael Grandage, Red
  • Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
  • Kenny Leon, Fences
  • Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge

    I thought Enron’s Rupert Goold might get a nod here, but other than that, I’m fine with this category.
Special Awards (non competitive)
  • Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre – Alan Ayckbourn and Marian Seldes
    Ayckbourn was last represented on the boards with last season’s fantastic The Norman Conquests. Seldes is well known in the theatre community and was last seen on stage in NY in Duece, opposite Angela Lansbury. Now, she can frequently be spotted at opening nights across the Rialto.
  • Isabelle Stevenson Humanitarian Award – David Hyde Pierce, honored here for his work in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre (honoring excellence in theatre that falls outside the established Tony categories) – The Alliance of Resident Theatres New York, B.H. Barry and Tom Viola
    A.R.T. NY supports management of nearly 300 member theatres; Barry is a fight director; and Viola is the Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

    Learn more about these special honors on the Tony website.
There are still lots of theatrical awards to be handed out between now and the Tonys, like the Drama League awards, the Outer Critics Circle awards and the Lucille Lortel awards, among others. Check back here for updates on all those awards.

Tune in to CBS on June 13 for the live broadcast of the 2010 Tony Awards!