2019 Tony Awards video slugfest: Sam Eckmann vs. David Buchanan
When the nominations for the 2019 Tony Awards were finally announced on Tuesday, major races were shaken up by shocking omissions. Gold Derby contributors David Buchanan and Sam Eckmann got together to dish all the snubs and surprises of the nominations and take a look at how this list of nominees changes the major races. Watch the full video slugfest above.
We start with the Best Play category, because that’s where “my jaw hit the floor.” Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was seen as a potential winner of this top award, but despite nine nominations it missed the coveted Best Play category. David wonders if the earlier controversy surrounding Scott Rudin (he went after theaters around the country who were producing a different, unsanctioned version of the play), because “they loved it everywhere else.”
I don’t buy the controversy argument however. After all, Rudin scored another nomination in the same category as lead producer of Taylor Mac’s “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.” I argue that “the script was a huge factor,” as was the usual “home field advantage” that New York theater artists enjoy with the Tonys. Nominated playwrights like Tarell Alvin McCraney, Heidi Schreck, and Taylor Mac are revered figures of the New York theater scene. Aaron Sorkin is not. Voters perhaps assumed “Mockingbird” was safe, and wanted to make sure their local favorites made the cut. In any case, David and I both agree that “The Ferryman” is far out front for the win, though a potential upset exists in “the little engine that could”: “What the Constitution Means to Me.”
The absence of both “Mockingbird” and “Network” in the Best Play category prompts David to declare the Lead Actor in a Play race “more wide open than we thought originally.” Respective stars Jeff Daniels and Bryan Cranston have been the assumed front-runners all season long. But with their plays missing, might it pave the way for an upset from Paddy Considine (of likely Best Play winner “The Ferryman”) or twice nominated Jeremy Pope (“Choir Boy”)? This race just turned into a major battle.
The Tony nominators also upended the Lead Actress in a Play category by snubbing last year’s winner Glenda Jackson for “King Lear.” “Even with a tie she couldn’t get in” I say in shock. But clearly, “Lear” didn’t wow voters as featured player Ruth Wilson was the only recognized element for her dual roles of Cordelia and The Fool. David says he “feels pretty strongly that Elaine May can take it.” May received some of the best reviews of the year for “The Waverly Gallery,” but we hesitate to call it a slam dunk since the play closed months ago. For Laurie Metcalf, “a third win in a row would be unprecedented,” but David and I acknowledge upset potential in Heidi Schreck and Annette Bening if voters opt for an actress currently on Broadway.
Best Musical went according to plan with the exception of “Be More Chill.” My hesitations about its chances came to fruition and the teen sci-fi romp wound up with just a single nomination for Joe Iconis’ Score. “Young people went crazy for it,” I explain, “but young people are not Tony voters.” So now “Hadestown” is the clear leader with a whopping 14 nominations, the most of any show. Anais Mitchell’s folk tuner is bound to clean up, but David is impressed by “Ain’t Too Proud.” “It way over-performed,” he says, including sneaking into Best Director. That could hint that the slick Temptations musical could steal a few wins from “Hadestown.”
The two-nominee Revival of a Musical category looks like a done deal too. “We talked about it being neck and neck before the nominations, but I thought ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ under-performed,” claims David. Indeed, that show rounded up just four nominations, with actors Will Chase, Corbin Bleu and Stephanie Styles all missing the cut. “Oklahoma!” looks to be the favorite with eight total nominations spread across multiple disciplines. The real mystery is how many wins this re-imagined classic can steal from “Hadestown.”