Tony Nominations

The 2012 Tony Award nominations were announced this morning! Here is the full list of nominees, along with, of course, my commentary. (Note that the reviews to which I'm linking for The Lyons and Clybourne Park are for the off-Broadway runs.)

Best Play 

This was the toughest category. Just think about the fact that, for instance, amazing, critically acclaimed and audience favorite plays like The Lyons and Seminar are not nominated. It's a wonderful thing that this was such a difficult category in which to even choose the nominees. I didn't love Other Desert Cities, but I appreciate the craft. Clybourne Park is stellar; Venus in Fur is complex and provocative and breathtaking; and Peter and the Starcatcher is magical. It's really a toss up.

Best Musical 

I'm thrilled that Leap of Faith was nominated because I liked it so much, but I'm bummed this is its only nomination. I don't know what the Tony voters see in Once, though, judging by the rest of the nominations, I'd say that Newsies is the front runner in this category.

Best Book of a Musical 

  • Lysistrata Jones, Douglas Carter Beane
  • Newsies, Harvey Fierstein
  • Nice Work if You Can Get It, Joe DiPietro
  • Once, Enda Walsh

I do not have a favorite in this category. I've only seen two of the shows so I can't justifiably say which of these is deserved, but I can say that the book for Leap of Faith was much better than the book for Lysistrata Jones, with its no-shelf-life jokes and cheap gags.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

  • Bonnie & Clyde, Music by Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by Don Black
  • Newsies, Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman
  • One Man Two Guvnors, Music and Lyrics by Grant Olding
  • Peter and the Starcatcher, Music by Wayne Barker, Lyrics by Rick Elice

What an odd mix. First of all, you know that I think the score was the worst thing about Bonnie & Clyde, so that nomination is a little ridiculous. Second, the last two nominees are plays with music. Now there's nothing wrong with the score of a play being nominated, but I really would have liked for Leap of Faith to have received a nod in this category. Perhaps, with the ubiquity of plays with music, we might separate out these categories: Best Original Score of a Musical and Best Original Score of a Play. What do you think?

Best Revival of a Play 

No complaints here. Wit was powerful, while Death of a Salesman and The Best Man are both classics that are ever-relevant today. Great category.

Best Revival of a Musical 

No surprises here. While I didn't like Jesus Christ Superstar one bit, I sensed that it would beat the other Jesus musical to the nomination. But let's not fool ourselves: this is a match up between Follies and Porgy and Bess. My guess is the award goes to Follies, a theatre fan favorite that lacks the controversy this revival of Porgy and Bess brings with it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play 

  • James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
  • James Earl Jones, The Best Man
  • Frank Langella, Man and Boy
  • John Lithgow,  The Columnist

I've clearly only seen two of the nominated performances so I can't say whom I would leave out, but come on: no love for Alan Rickman in Seminar?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play 

What a blessedly tough category. Of course, I'm rooting for Nina because she's a revelation in Venus in Fur. I think it'll come down to a showdown between the ages: up-and-comer Nina Arianda against veteran Linda Lavin, both fantastic. Way to go, ladies!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical 

No Raul Esparza?!?!?!?!?!?!? I could spit, I'm so upset. Clearly, I can't root for Jeremy Jordan because he has no range. Clearly, though he plays acoustic guitar, I can't root for Steve Kazee, because Once isn't very good. So it's down to Burstein, Lewis and Raines. Or, maybe Esparza will win the write-in vote. (A gal can dream, can't she?)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical 

Jan Maxwell! Yes, Laura Osnes was the best I've seen her in Bonnie & Clyde; yes, Audra McDonald was reliably terrific. But Jan Maxwell (notice there's no nod for her co-diva, Bernadette Peters) was sensational. Absolutely fantastic.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

The Tony nominations got stached! Christian Borle is superb! But wait - so are Andrew Garfield and Jeremy Shamos! It's so difficult to say which actor gave a better performance because each piece is such a different beast. Suffice it to say that these nominations are totally deserved.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Another great category. (Although, I would have like a little love for Lily Rabe in Seminar.) The things Emond, Keenan-Bolger and Light do with their roles - it's overwhelmingly wonderful. Perhaps Keenan-Bolger gets the edge because she gets to speak Norse Code in the magical play!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Phillip Boykin was excellent as the bad guy. I'm worried that he and co-star Grier will cancel each other out, though. I'm upset, however, that there's no love for Leslie Odom, Jr., who's stellar in Leap of Faith.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Yay for Jessie Mueller! You know I absolutely loved her in On a Clear Day, and I'm glad that the Tony nominating committee remembered, despite the fact that the show closed months ago and was not well-received. She gave a star-is-born performance, so kudos to the upcoming Shakespeare in the Park star on the nomination!

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Another tough category. I loved that there were no straight lines in Other Desert Cities' scenic design, just lots and lots of circles, like the kinds of conversations and arguments the characters were having. The house is basically another character in Clybourne Park, making the great work of Ostling incredibly important. And the way Werle created this wonderful playground for the scrappy cast of Starcatcher, a place in which they could dream and imagine - just sensational.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

You know how Transformers receives Academy Award nominations? Same thing happened with Spider-Man, which actually makes me glad. I like that a show's parts can be recognized even if the whole is sub-par. Even so, I'm rooting for team Ghost for the way they're pushing forward the boundaries of what scenic design on stage can be.

Best Costume Design of a Play

  • William Ivey Long, Don't Dress for Dinner
  • Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
  • Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher

Watch the opening of act two of Peter and the Starcatcher. Those found-object mermaid costumes alone deserve a win!

Best Costume Design of a Musical

The costumes in Follies were great, really helping to tell the story of these aging chorus girls.

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Though I didn't like The Road the Mecca, the candle lighting was beautiful. I can't decide my favorite between Starcatcher and Salesman. In both cases, the lighting is used so effectively, it's difficult to determine which was "best."

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

I'm rooting for Ghost. I absolutely loved the way that show was lit.

Best Sound Design of a Play

I'm not even going to try to front: I'm Team Starcatcher.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

No favorite or insightful commentary here.

Best Direction of a Play

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The co-captains of the SS Starcatcher are Tony nominees!!! I'm beyond excited that their expert work - controlling the beautiful chaos at play - was recognized. (Of course, Nichols's and MacKinnon's work is nothing to sneeze at, either. (But so was Sam Gold's work in Seminar, and he's not nominated.) Another tough category.)

Best Direction of a Musical

  • Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
  • Kathleen Marchall, Nice Work if You Can Get It
  • Diane Paulus, Porgy and Bess
  • John Tiffany, Once

Hmmm. I don't know what to make of this category. I haven't seen two of the nominees and I didn't like Once. Before I throw my support to Diane Paulus for her re-imagination of a classic, I'd like to see Newsies and Nice Work.

Best Choreography

  • Rob Ashford, Evita
  • Christopher Gatelli, Newsies
  • Steven Hoggett, Once
  • Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work if You Can Get It 

Oy vey. Of course I'm bummed Sergio Trujillo wasn't nominated for Leap of Faith. And, yet, having only seen one of the nominees, I suppose I can't justifiably choose a favorite. Hoggett's choreography was, for me, one of the outstanding elements of Once, and in all their TV appearances, the cast of Newsies impresses with their dance moves. Hmm...

Best Orchestrations

  • William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, Porgy and Bess
  • Bill Elliott, Nice Work if You Can Get It
  • Martin Lowe, Once
  • Danny Troob, Newsies
I don't have a favorite, but I do love the way Kristen Chenoweth made a comment about loving orchestrations when she read the categories. (For those not following, there was a huge uproar when the Drama Desk eliminated the Best Orchestrations category from their awards. The category has since been reinstated.) Also, how much do you want to bet that Bill Elliott used to go by Billy until an eleven-year-old pipsqueak ruined the name?

Special Awards
  • Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Emanuel Azenberg
  • Regional Theatre Award: The Shakespeare Company, Washington, DC
  • Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre: Freddie Gershon, Artie Siccardi and TDF Open Doors
And on Monday, we learned that on Tony night, Bernadette Peters will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award, and Special Tony Awards will be presented to Actors' Equity Association and Hugh Jackman. Playbill has details.

Visit to learn about all the nominees, and to stay up do date on Tony goings on. And then, head to the theatre - it's time to play Tony catch up!