69th Tony Award Nominations

The nominations for the 69th Tony Awards are in! (And, big news, Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming will host the Tony Awards!) Without any further ado, here is the full list of nominees. (First the plays, then the musicals.)

Best Play
You know what I like about this slate of plays? They represent diversity in storytelling, tone, subject matter and size. Though I haven't seen Wolf Hall (I'm watching the BBC film adaptation, starring Mark Rylance, on PBS, instead), I feel confident in saying this race comes down to The Curious Incident and Hand to God, with The Curious Incident favored to win. (And with good reason: it's incredible!) That said, I am saddened to see Constellations left off the list.
Best Revival of a Play
This is the first of many, "What?!?" moments I had as the nominees were read. I thought You Can't Take It with You was delightful, and I know The Elephant Man was well-received, but I'm surprised to see This is Our Youth on the list, especially with The Heidi Chronicles absent.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
No love for Jake Gyllenhaal? What, was Ruth Wilson acting alone? OK. Now that that's off my chest, hooray for Steven Boyer and Alex Sharp! I've seen Boyer off-Broadway over the years, and am so pleased to see him garnering this kind of praise. And, as I said in my review, Sharp is a revelation, like when I first saw Nina Arianda on stage. Please, please, please let his performance trump the celebrity cache of Bradley Cooper. 
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
This is a pretty good category. Of course, I'm pulling for Wilson, who was heartbreaking. Then again, so was Moss in her act two address. Interestingly, if Mirren wins, it will be the second time she's won an award for playing Queen Elizabeth II. (She previously won an Oscar for The Queen.) 
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
  • Matthew Beard, Skylight
  • K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
  • Richard McCabe, The Audience
  • Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
  • Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall 
  • Micah Stock, It's Only a Play
This is definitely a WTF category for me. I'll grant you I've only seen one of the performances, but it was so forgettable that when Beard was announced as a nominee, I said, "Who?" You're going to tell me he was better than Bryce Pinkham in The Heidi Chronicles? Or Marc Kudisch in Hand to God? Or even Michael Cera in This Is Our Youth? What's going on, Tony Nominating Committee?
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
All hail Annaleigh Ashford, who is now a two-time Tony nominee! I'm delighted that her performance was remembered. And a hearty woo-hoo for the terrific Sarah Stiles! This lady nails it. I'll be seeing the always wonderful Julie White in Airline Highway in a couple of weeks, so come Tony time, I'll have a slightly more informed opinion. (And let's just be real: Patricia Clarkson can do no wrong.) 
Best Direction of a Play
This is going to Marianne Elliott, right? (I mean, I'm not trying to jinx anything...) With no love lost for Ellis or von Stuelpnagel, Elliott's work paid off in spades, creating a powerful, immersive theatrical experience.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
The Curious Incident set looks, at first, so elementary that it's almost difficult to recognize it. But as the play progresses, and the story and set shift and grow and contract, you realize just how brilliant it is.
Best Costume Design of a Play
  • Bob Crowley, The Audience
  • Jane Greenwood, You Can't Take It with You 
  • Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall
  • David Zinn, Airline Highway 
So if Hand to God wasn't nominated, who was responsible for creating Tyrone? In any case, I don't have a favorite here, though it's worth noting that this is one of Bob Crowley's four nominations this year.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
I don't know how you could have told Christopher's story (in The Curious Incident) without Paule Constable's stellar lighting design.  

Best Musical
Holy Thespis and the ghost of Mr. Balanchine, hooray for An American in Paris! This is the first of the show's 12 nominations! (Fun Home also garnered 12 nods; Something Rotten is in second with 10.) Of course I'm angry (though not entirely surprised, knowing how these things tend to go) that The Last Ship isn't nominated, but The Visit is, and that's great. Similar to the Best Play category, these four nominees represent a welcome variety in the musical theatre canon. But let's be clear: I'm Team An American in Paris all the way.
Best Revival of a Musical
Another "What?!?" moment: There are only three nominees, leaving Side Show out in the cold. (It got completely shut out, in fact.) As it is, my money's on On the Twentieth Century. Much as I liked The King and I, I think it is much easier to have a lousy revival of On the Twentieth Century, and the fact that's it's so terrific is cause for celebration.  
Best Book of a Musical
Good slate, but of course I'm pouring a little out for Brian Yorkey and John Logan, who wrote the book for The Last Ship. With its cerebral air, I wouldn't be surprised if Lisa Kron took home this award for Fun Home, even though I'm rooting for Craig Lucas and Terrence McNally.
Best Original Score
At last, some love for The Last Ship! This is still my favorite score of the year. It's original, and it feels and sounds that way. The music is haunting and specific to the show's setting, introducing instruments not often heard on a Broadway stage. And Sting's lyrics are so beautiful and evocative, you could take most of them and read them as straight poems and still be moved. If you haven't picked up your copy of the OBCR, do yourself a favor and order a copy today
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
You guys, Robbie Fairchild is now a Tony nominee!!!!!!!!! How amazing is that? What would be even more amazing is if Michael Esper were one, too. His performance in The Last Ship is still with me. I would, without hesitation, trade Ken Watanabe or Tony Yazbeck for Esper. Even so, it's an interesting slate. Robbie's amazing; will his twinkle toes carry him to victory over everyone's favorite Broadway staple, Brian d'Arcy James?  
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
This slate is pretty much how it should be (though, since I didn't love Fun Home, I'd be inclined to swap out Beth Malone and slip in Rachel Tucker (The Last Ship)). And it's a strong category, too. I think it comes down to Chenoweth, O'Hara and Rivera, all of whom are undeniably worthy of the award. Could this—finally—be O'Hara's year? Everyone wants it to be, but Chenoweth and Rivera make excellent arguments for their own wins.  
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Believe it or not, I have no complaints about this category. What a talented group of men. Max von Essen is the real revelation for me, but all these guys are deserving of the attention. 
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Um, I don't know about this one. I'm surprised to see all three Fun Home ladies up here. I was hoping for a nod for Megan Fairchild and/or Alysha Umphress, both in On the Town. Still, I'm thrilled to see Ruthie Ann Miles earn a nomination. She was fantastic in Here Lies Love, and she continued to impress in The King and I, standing out from a large ensemble.
Best Direction of a Musical
Hooray for Christopher Wheeldon and Bartlett Sher, but boo for no Joe Mantello (The Last Ship). While I adore Wheeldon and am rooting for him, I don't have a read on which nominee has the edge. We'll find out in June!   
Best Choreography
Christopher Wheeldon, Christopher Wheeldon, Christopher Wheeldon! Game over. (Pooh, pooh, pooh, though; not trying to jinx anything.) You know what's curious? Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett's nomination for The Curious Incident... Hoggett deserves to be nominated this year, but for The Last Ship. (Not to take away from what he does in The Curious Incident; it's spellbinding.)
Best Orchestrations
Updating beautiful, iconic Gershwin music (An American in Paris) or fleshing out a rock star's haunting, layered score (The Last Ship)? What good competition!  
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Remember that An American in Paris's nomination is for the scenic and projection design, both of which are essential to the storytelling. 
Best Costume Design of a Musical
I mean, there are some gorgeous costumes on stage this year! It's difficult to pick a favorite, but I'm going with Bob Crowley (duh), because he not only had to create costumes that fit the setting (both time and place) and can transform in front of the audience within an eight-count, but said costumes had to allow the company to dance in a way you've never seen on Broadway.   
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
This might be the one category in which An American in Paris is not my top choice. Not because Natasha Katz's design is lacking in any way, but because Japhy Weideman's is so evocative. (Of course, I'd have loved some love for Christopher Akerlind's design for The Last Ship, but that ship has, sadly, sailed.)

Special Tony Awards
  • Tommy Tune, Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
  • Cleveland Play House, Regional Theatre Tony Award
  • Stephen Schwartz, Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
  • John Cameron Mitchell, Special Tony Award
  • Arnold Abramson, Adrian Bryan-Brown and Gene O'Donovan, Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

And there you have it: The nominations for the 69th Tony Awards. Check back for Tony tidbits as we make our way to the big day; browse through my Tony Pinterest board and my Culturalist profile, both of which I'll be updating throughout the season; and tune into the Tony Awards, hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, on CBS on Sunday, June 7 at 8pm. Visit tonyawards.com for more information.