Despite numerous “snubs” to the so-called Hollywood contingent that has taken Broadway by storm, this season today’s Tony Award nominations really prove just how reliant the Great White Way has become on movies. I’m not just talking those big stars such as Denzel Washington or Daniel Radcliffe (chief among today’s snubees), but the actual movies themselves. Nineteen of those nominations went to Broadway-ized musical versions of Disney’s Aladdin, Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Clint Eastwood’s The Bridges Of Madison County. Only Aladdin scored a Best New Musical nom. But Allen was nominated for his book (his first foray into musicals) based on his Oscar-nominated screenplay. Kelli O’Hara was the key nomination of four given to Bridges Of Madison County in the same role that won the original movie’s sole Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep. Eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken is among the five nominations for Aladdin by reprising his Oscar-winning score and adding just enough new tunes to qualify for the Tonys too. Rocky’s leading actor Andy Karl grabbed the Best Actor equivalent of Stallone’s Best Actor Oscar nom in 1976 but is likely, just as Sly did, to lose to much stiffer competition in the category. But the musical version’s scenic design, with its spectacular boxing arena, is certain to be victorious on Tony night.
UPDATED WITH ANALYSIS AND FULL LIST OF NOMINEES: The Tony nominations announced this morning made one thing quite clear: On Broadway, it’s been the season of the actor. Especially the year of the actor in drag.
Jefferson Mays was nominated for playing more roles than I can count in the amusing musical murder thriller A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder. British actor Mark Rylance came away with two nominations, one for his performance as a twisted king, in Richard III, a second for his performance as a lovestruck countess, in Twelfth Night.
Broadway and TV favorite Neil Patrick Harris is in the running for his title foray in Hedwig And The Angry Inch, playing a sort-of transgender sort-of rock star. Audra McDonald is looking for her sixth Tony, for her astonishing performances as Billie Holiday in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill. If she wins, she will have landed in the very exclusive club whose members have won Tony Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actress and Featured Actress in both plays and musicals, starting with her first win, for Carousel, in 1994.
Gentleman’s Guide led the pack with 10 nominations, including Best Musical, score, book and direction. James Lapine’s heartfelt dramatization of Act One, Broadway legend Moss Hart’s celebrated autobiography, took the most nominations for Best Play, though Lapine was overlooked for his staging of the show at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont.