Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Tony Nominations

In the midst of everything, I somehow let this year's Tony nominations slip by me. It's really my own fault - even less than normal, I haven't paid much attention to the Great White Way this year, so most of these shows are new to me. So, unfortunately, I don't have much to say about any of them; perhaps some of you can offer recommendations?


Overall, musicals An American in Paris (based on the 1951 Best Picture winner starring Gene Kelly) and Fun Home (based on Alison Bechdel's powerful graphic novel/memoir) lead all shows with 12 nominations apiece, while Wolf Hall Parts One & Two was the most-nominated play with 8. In a welcome change from recent years, only one of this year's Best Musical nominees is based on a movie; the other three boast substantially original music.

Below is a complete list of this year's nominees, with my shamefully sparse commentary provided. You can learn more about the nominated shows here.

BEST MUSICAL

Fun Home

An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit

In addition to the previously-mentioned An American in Paris and Fun Home, Something Rotten! is a  new snarky musical about the (fictional) creation of the world's first musical, while The Visit stars the inimitable Chita Rivera as a wealthy woman who returns to her hometown. Truth be told, all of these sound excellent on paper, and the reviews for Paris and Fun Home in particular have been ecstatic. Either of those will likely end up winning.

BEST PLAY

Hand to God

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time; author: Simon Stephens
Disgraced; author: Ayad Akhtar
Hand to God; author: Robert Askins
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two; authors: Hilary Mantel and Mike Poulton

The Curious Case... is based on Mark Haddon's terrific 2003 novel of the same name, following an autistic teenager as he tries to solve the mystery of his neighbor's dog's death. Based on the available information, it looks inventive onstage. Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013, having only recently found its way to the stage. It centers on a Muslim-American man and his wife who have an explosive dinner conversation with another couple. Hand to God hits really close-to-home with me; it's about a young man, Jason (he even shares my name!), who finds an outlet for his creativity in his deeply-religious town's Christian Puppet Ministry. And Wolf Hall is based on Mantel's novels about the volatile court of King Henry VIII. All of these sound fascinating; I suspect, however, that Wolf Hall or The Curious Case... will take the prize.

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

The King and I

The King and I
On the Town
On the Twentieth Century

The King and I is perhaps best known to the general public, thanks to the classic 1956 film version starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. In this revival, Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) stars as the King of Siam, while Broadway darling Kelli O'Hara takes on the role of the English schoolteacher for whom he swoons. On the Town and On the Twentieth Century, on the other hand, are both lighthearted comedies with roots in the Golden Age of Broadway (the former first premiered in 1947, the latter is set in the 1930s). I suspect, however, that The King and I will prevail.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man
Skylight
This Is Our Youth
You Can't Take It With You

The big-name ticket here is The Elephant Man, which starred Bradley Cooper as John Merrick, a man with severe genetic facial disfiguration. Skylight starred Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy as a schoolteacher and her former lover, while This Is Our Youth is a Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret) play starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Rookie Magazine editor Tavi Gevinson. And You Can't Take It With You is best remembered for the classic 1938 film directed by Frank Capra. I suspect that The Elephant Man will win, but You Can't Take It With You likely has a good shot as well.

The rest of the categories, including the acting honors, after the jump.


BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

An American in Paris; book by Craig Lucas
Fun Home; book by Lisa Kron
Something Rotten!; book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell
The Visit; book by Terrence McNally

McNally is a beloved, Tony-winning playwright, but I suspect that Kron will be able to lay claim to the honors for adapting Bechdel's memoir to the stage. This is also a surprisingly-rare instance of this category lining up perfectly with Best Musical.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE

The Last Ship

Fun Home; music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Lisa Kron
The Last Ship; music and lyrics by Sting
Something Rotten!; music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
The Visit; music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb

Remarkably, Kander & Ebb manage to score another Broadway hit 11 years after Ebb's death; the musical was completed in 2000, and has only now made its way to Broadway. That history, plus the duo's illustrious history (Chicago, Cabaret), could be enough for them to pull off a win here. Sting's semi-autobiographical musical didn't make much of a splash (sorry) at the Tonys this year, but he did manage a key nomination here.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d'Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town

Fairchild had the difficulty of filling Gene Kelly's (tap)shoes, but he has apparently been more than capable. I'm guessing either he or Cerveris (who played the title role in the legendary 2005 revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) will take this one.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Rivera

Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O'Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit

Believe it or not, despite her Broadway bona fides, this is only Chenoweth's third Tony nomination, and her first since the smash Wicked opened 11 years ago. O'Hara has had more luck with nominations, but not with wins: she's currently 0-for-6. In any other year, this would be the main showdown. However, I have a feeling this is Rivera's to lose: she's been raved about for her performance, and she's a theatre legend. As with the Oscars, that counts with Tony voters.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time

If The Curious Case... turns out to be a major player on the night, Sharp may be a stealth contender. But I suspect that Cooper might claim this one: he's a Hollywood star gunning for Broadway cred, and he's in the middle of a streak of terrific performances that most of us wouldn't have thought him capable of even five years ago.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

A lot of familiar faces here: Mirren is once again playing Queen Elizabeth II in a play written by The Queen writer Peter Morgan. Moss is proving that she should have a thriving career after Mad Men, having turned in stellar work on television, in film, and now onstage. Mulligan earned great reviews for her Broadway debut, and Wilson has quickly gone from "I know her from..." to a rising star. Despite Mirren's legacy, I'm thinking that this one is going to Moss: she's got the most to prove, and I think voters will approve of her stellar career choices.

BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Oscar (on left)

Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris

Oscar supposedly has a big, scene-stealing part, which is what usually wins this category. Though I have heard good things about Borle and von Essen, this is probably Oscar's to lose.

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

Lucas and Skeggs are playing younger versions of Bechdel (adult played by Beth Malone); it'll be interesting to see if any of the Fun Home women can avoid vote-splitting and win the Tony. But who? If they do split, I'm going with Clark.

BEST 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 Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It's Only a Play

Six nominees indicates that one spot was virtually a tie; I wonder who it was? I don't really know who to predict here, so I'm going to guess Parker, since he's taking on King Henry VIII.

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

Annaleigh Ashford, You Can't Take It With You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway

I'll always root for Clarkson, but I have a feeling that Broadway favorite Ashford is going to claim this category.

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Fun Home; directed by Sam Gold
Something Rotten!; directed by Casey Nicholaw
On the Town; directed by John Rando
The King and I; directed by Bartlett Sher
An American in Paris; directed by Christopher Wheeldon

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time; directed by Marianne Elliott
You Can't Take It With You; directed by Scott Ellis
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two; directed by Jeremy Herrin
Hand to God; directed by Moritz Von Stuelpnagel

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

On the Town; choreography by Joshua Bergasse
The King and I; choreography by Christopher Gattelli
The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time; choreography by Scott Graham and Steven Hogged
Something Rotten!; choreography by Casey Nicholaw
An American in Paris; choreography by Christopher Wheeldon

It's rare for a play to earn a nomination here, which only makes The Curious Case... all the more intriguing of a show.

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS

An American in Paris; Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliot
Fun Home; John Clancy
Something Rotten!; Larry Hochman
The Last Ship; Rob Mathes

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

An American in Paris; Bob Crowley and 59 Productions
On the Twentieth Century; David Rockwell
The King and I; Michael Yeargan
Fun Home; David Zinn

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Bunny Christie and Finn Ross
Skylight; Bob Crowley
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two; Christopher Oram
You Can't Take It With You; David Rockwell

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Something Rotten!; Gregg Barnes
An American in Paris; Bob Crowley
On the Twentieth Century; William Ivey Long
The King and I; Catherine Zuber

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

The Audience; Bob Crowely
You Can't Take It With You; Jane Greenwood
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two; Christopher Oram
Airline Highway; David Zinn

You'll notice that Bob Crowley is nominated in each scenic design and costume design category. That's pretty amazing.

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

The King and I; Donald Holder
An American in Paris; Natasha Katz
Fun Home; Ben Stanton
The Visit; Japhy Weideman

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time; Paule Constable
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two; Paule Constable and David Plater
Skylight; Natasha Katz
Airline Highway; Japhy Weideman

The Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Play categories were retired after last year's ceremony.

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE

Tommy Tune

REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD

Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, Ohio

ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD

Stephen Schwartz

SPECIAL TONY AWARD

John Cameron Mitchell

TONY HONORS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATRE

Arnold Abramson
Adrian Bryan-Brown
Gene O'Donovan

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