The Tony Awards administration committee issued its final ruling of the season on Friday about category placements. The Tonys usually decide who goes where on the ballot by billing — only those names billed above the title are presumed to be leads.
To that end, “Hello, Dolly!” producers had to ask that Tony and Emmy winner David-Hyde Pierce be considered as a lead for his performance as the persnickety Horace Vandergelder, even though only Bette Midler gets top billing for her star turn as the meddlesome matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi. While the original Dolly, Carol Channing, won the Best Actress Tony back in 1964, her leading man, David Burns, was not even nominated. However, Channing’s co-star in the 1978 rialto revival, Eddie Bracken, did reap a Best Actor bid.
Conversely, we had assumed that Tony and Emmy champ Cynthia Nixon would get to contend in lead for “The Little Foxes.” She and Laura Linney are alternating in the main role, that of the manipulative Regina Hubbard Giddens. However, on opening night Nixon was seen in the part of Birdie, Regina’s put-upon sister-in-law. That is a featured role and will be where Nixon is slotted. The 1981 revival of this Lillian Hellman classic family drama from 1939 earned Tony nominations for leading lady Elizabeth Taylor as Regina and featured player Maureen Stapleton as Birdie.
While all four members of the cast of “A Doll’s House Part 2” are billed above the title, we had assumed that only Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf would be considered a lead. The producers successfully petitioned to have Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell and Tony nominee Condola Rashad be considered as featured performers. By default that leaves the only fellow in the cast, Oscar winner Chris Cooper, up in lead.
Finally, we had thought that all three of the talents billed above the title in the revival of “Six Degrees of Separation” would be contending in lead. And while Allison Janney and Corey Hawkins stay there, John Benjamin Hickey won’t have to compete against his co-star following the committee’s decision to allow him to contend in featured. For the original 1990 production, Stockard Channing and Courtney B. Vance reaped lead bids for the roles of Ouisa and Paul now played by Janney and Hawkins while John Cunningham was snubbed for his work as Flan, the part that Hickey has.
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