The Tony Awards nominations were announced Tuesday morning. Among new tuners, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” leads with 10 bids. And of the new plays on Broadway, “Act One” reaped a leading five nominations. The revivals of the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and the plays “The Glass Menagerie” and “Twelfth Night” lead those genres with eight and seven nominations respectively.
A wrinkle in the rules allowed for five nominees in three of the four production categories (both Play races and Best Musical) as they were packed with more than nine contenders. However, the vote tally from the 44 members of the nominating committee was only close enough in the Best Play race to merit five nominees. Conversely, with only four musical revivals eligible, that category did not need to have a full complement and the remounting of the 1998 production of “Cabaret” was snubbed.
Following up on its dominance of the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk nominations, “Gentleman’s Guide” established itself as the frontrunner for Best Musical. This tuner version of the 1948 British film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” is a frisky musical romp set in Edwardian England about a line of heirs, family money and homicide. Broadway newcomers Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak picked up nominations for their adaptation. At the center of the show are Tony champ Jefferson Mays who plays eight of the heirs and Bryce Pinkham as their nemesis.
While that show is set in England, it is American made as are the other three nominees for Best Musical: the jazz revue “After Midnight,” the Disney toon come to life “Aladdin” and the Carole King jukebox tuner “Beautiful.”
Best Play is shaping up to be a showdown between two works that chronicle the lives of titans in their fields. “Act One” is an adapation of Moss Hart‘s beloved memoir about his early years working in the theater and showcases three-time Emmy champ Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) in a variety of roles which could net him the Best Actor (Play) prize.
Standing in his way is four-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) who makes his Broadway debut as Lyndon Johnson in “All the Way.” Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan (“The Kentucky Cycle”) explores the turbulent first year of LBJ’s presidency.
The frontrunners in the race for Best Actress (Play) are a pair of past Tony winners: two-time champ Cherry Jones who broke the curse that has befallen the five previous revivals of “The Glass Menagerie” and five-timer Audra McDonald for “Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill,” a hybrid of music and story.
Neil Patrick Harris has won three Emmys for hosting the Tonys and is tipped to take to the stage this year to collect Best Actor (Musical) for his bravura performance as a gender-bending rock star in “Hedwig,” which is tipped to win Best Musical Revival. However, 2003 Best Actor (Play) champ Mays (“I Am My Own Wife”) could pull off an upset with his jaw-dropping eight roles in “Gentleman’s Guide.”
While the Best Actress (Musical) line-up includes a pair of past Tony champs — Sutton Foster (“Violet”) and Idina Menzel (“If/Then“), the frontrunner is four-time also-ran Kelli O’Hara for her heartbreaking performance in “The Bridges of Madison County.”
The 68th annual edition of these top theater kudos will be handed out on Sunday, June 8 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and air live on CBS. Winners will be voted on by 868 members of the Broadway community.