71st Tony Award Nominations

The nominees for the 71st annual Tony Awards have been announced. The full list of nominees is below, beginning with the big four categories. Thereafter are the nominees in the play categories followed by the nominees in the musical categories. Tune into the Tony Awards on CBS June 11 to find out who will walk away with a statue.

Best Musical
There were 13 new musicals this season, necessarily leaving several off this list. That said, from what I've seen and heard, these are the right choices. (A fifth nominee was possible if a certain number of shows earned a certain percentage of the vote, but, clearly, that didn't happen.) What's notable is that two of the four musicals, Dear Evan Hansen and The Great Comet, opened in the fall. All too often, shows that open in the fall either quickly close, or, if they're still open, are forgotten by Tony nominators amid the glut of spring shows. These are the two shows I've seen, and they are—by far—highlights of the season. I don't know how I'd choose if I were a voter, but I'd give the edge to Dear Evan Hansen. Beware, though: There's lots of buzz around Come From Away; look for it to be a spoiler.

Best Play
I saw all the eligible new plays this year (save The Encounter), and it was a strong year. My favorite, Significant Other, didn't make the cut, but this slate of nominees is a good one. Sweat recently won the Pulitzer, though I don't think it's actually such a great play, and I wonder if the 2016 election had turned out differently if Sweat would be accumulating the accolades being bestowed. A lot of people like Indecent for its advocacy for the arts, and Oslo is a fascinating look behind the scenes of diplomacy, but my choice is A Doll's House, Part 2. It's fabulous in all areas, and a terrific example of art inspiring art.

Best Revival of a Musical
With the actual best revival, Sunday in the Park with George, removing itself from consideration, this is a fine slate. (Note that Cats was not nominated.) There's a lot of industry love for Falsettos, but that closed and likely won't tour, so look for Hello, Dolly to take home the Tony

Best Revival of a Play
Here, too, there were several eligible productions left out of this category, including a new take on The Cherry Orchard. At this time, I've only seen Present Laughter, and I loved it. I'm seeing Six Degrees of Separation tonight, and I have only heard good things about Jitney and The Little Foxes, so in my estimation, this a toss up.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Look, these are all fine actors, but we're coalesced around Kevin Kline, right? The way he makes a meal out of every moment, the way he stalks the stage and chews scenery, the way he (appropriately) begs for laughs—just delightful.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Cate Blanchett is undoubtedly talented, and Jennifer Ehle was great in Oslo, but I absolutely loved Laurie Metcalf in this challenging role. (I'll bet I would love Laura Linney, but I haven't seen The Little Foxes.) I don't know if this is a lock, but Metcalf is my choice.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
  • Michael Aronov, Oslo
  • Danny DeVito, The Price
  • Nathan Lane, The Front Page
  • Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes
  • John Douglas Thompson, Jitney
I absolutely do not understand Danny DeVito's nomination. As I noted in my review, I was falling asleep during The Price, and DeVito's incessant yammering was one of the reasons why. Michael Aronov's performance is the only other one I've seen so while I can't call him the favorite (never count out theatre darling Nathan Lane), I'm calling him my favorite. (Should have been nominated, IMO, Harold Perrineau for The Cherry Orchard.)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Wow. What a strong category. I haven't seen Cynthia Nixon, but I've seen the other four performances. Notably, the other four performances come from just two plays. It'll be interesting to see if the intramural competitors end up canceling out one another. I don't think that'll happen, though. My guess says Johanna Day will be the winner. (Also, I'm a little bummed neither Kate Burton nor Kristine Nielsen were nominated for Present Laughter.)

Best Direction of a Play
I absolutely loved Sam Gold's direction of A Doll's House, Part 2, though I'm pleased to see a woman on this list, and Rebecca Taichman is deserving of the nomination, to boot. Still, I'm going with Gold.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Honestly, I'm surprised Miriam Buether's set for A Doll's House, Part 2 wasn't nominated. It is, to be sure, simple and stark, but it is one of the most effective scenic designs (especially the position of the playing area and the huge dark door) I've seen in a while. Of the nominees, I think I'd have to go with Nigel Hook, who's design for The Play that Goes Wrong is essentially another character in the play.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Best Lighting Design of a Play
I didn't see Jitney, but the lighting designs for Indecent and Oslo are particularly effective and integral to the storytelling. I give the edge to Indecent.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
After seeing some of the other theatre award nominations, I was worried that Josh Groban would be left off this list. I'm glad to see that the talented performer, making his Broadway debut, earned a nod for his rich performance. That said, I'm Team Ben Platt all the way. What he does in that show—eight times a week—is nothing short of magic.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Well, it's the divas vs. the newbies. Of the nominees, I've only seen Denee Benton's performance, though I'm seeing War Paint later this month. Good money give Bette Midler the win, but that's not a foregone conclusion. This is still a competitive category (and, at the moment, I'm rooting for Benton).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
You guys, this category is great. (Of course, I haven't seen Hello, Dolly, but I'll always love Gavin Creel so I'm on board with his nomination.) The most (pleasantly) surprising contender here is Mike Faist. I thought Brandon Uranowitz was one of the best parts of Falsettos (see the next category for the other best part), and Lucas Steele is dashing and delicious in the flashy role of Anatole. I don't have a read as to who has the edge. It's possible the two Falsettos nominees will cancel each other out, leaving a lane for Creel or Steele. Likely Steele.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
  • Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly
  • Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
  • Jenn Colella, Come From Away
  • Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
  • Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia
Hooray for Rachel Bay Jones!!!!!! She has turned in honest and affecting work throughout her career, and she's wonderfully devastating as the frazzled mother in Dear Evan Hansen. I absolutely love Kate Baldwin and Mary Beth Peil, but I haven't seen their performances. Jenn Colella, is buzz is to be believed, has a real shot at this, though theatre community favorite Stephanie J. Block might be the one to beat. (She was the best part of Falsettos.) Still, my favorite is Jones.

Best Direction of a Musical
I think this has to go to Rachel Chavkin. To corral the big ideas and ambitions and cast of The Great Comet and somehow make it work shows such ingenuity and talent. I won't say anything bad about beloved Michael Greif, especially because I love Dear Evan Hansen so much. I will say I'm rooting for Chavkin.

Best Score
I'm torn. Having heard only Dear Evan Hansen and The Great Comet, I supposed I can't justifiably choose a favorite, but I'm going to anyway: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The recent Oscar winners put together an emotional and powerful score that includes the instant classics, "Waving through a Window" and "So Big, So Small."

Best Book of a Musical
Let's not discount The Great Comet just because it's mostly sung-through. There is most definitely still a book; the book is the story and holds the character and narrative arcs together. Dave Malloy did a terrific job exploring the soap opera in the mere 70-page section of War and Peace that inspired The Great Comet. With that said, I'm choosing Steven Levenson, who managed to find humor and pathos is what could easily be either overwrought or ghoulish.

Best Choreography
I'm glad to see that Holiday Inn, which was a limited engagement that began in the fall and closed around the new year, was remembered. It is a throwback to the big, splashy song and dance shows of yore, and featured some of the most entertaining true dance numbers since, perhaps, Anything Goes. But The Great Comet is still playing, which gives it an edge. And Sam Pinkleton does great work with a wily cast, a cast that dances on catwalks and in the audience and has an anarchic party in the middle of the second act. Somehow, it does not devolve into chaos, and that's thanks to Pinkleton.

Best Orchestrations
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Mimi Lien all the way. The design begins when you walk into the Imperial, as the lobby and ticketing area look like an underground punk club. You enter the house, and realize you're in an opulent Russian supper club—and the design continues into the rear mezzanine. You feel enveloped by the surroundings, and it becomes a truly radical theatrical experience.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
It's curious that Emily Rebholz's costume design for Dear Evan Hansen wasn't nominated given the way the colors help tell the story. As it is, I feel like I can't declare a favorite without seeing Hello, Dolly or War Paint.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Eke! How do you choose between The Great Comet and Dear Evan Hansen in this category? Both shows use light in powerful ways; the designs seem integral to the storytelling. I can't choose a favorite.

And there you have it: The nominees for the 71st annual Tony Awards. Congratulations to everyone who was eligible, and here's to next year, when this slate of nominees will, once again, include sound designers.