As a famous Siamese king once said: “It’s a puzzlement.” Usually, I have very few quibbles with the Tony nominations. Yet today, around 8:37 a.m. at NYC’s Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, when Tony winners — and former Spamalot costars — David Hyde Pierce (left) and Sara Ramirez (a.k.a. Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Torres, right) revealed the contenders in 26 categories, I saw more than a few oversights.
First, I’ll give you the big news. The show with the most nominations? In the Heights, which netted astaggering 13 nominations, including two for star/writer Lin-ManuelMiranda.The four Best Play nominees: Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County (the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner, just named New York Drama Critics Circle’s Best Play), Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps. Best Musical: Cry-Baby, In the Heights, Passing Strange (NYDCC’s Best Musical), Xanadu. (A full list of nominees is available at the Tonys’ website.)
So who was crying in their corn flakes? Well, surely Mel Brooks. In 2001 his Producers received 15 nominations — and won a record-setting 12, including Best Musical. This year, his Young Frankenstein received just 3 (for featured performers Andrea Martin and Christopher Fitzgerald, plus best scenic design)… and no one’s forecasting any wins. The Catered Affair company no doubt had their fingers crossed for a Best Musical slot, but the chamber piece was passed over for the flashier Cry-Baby.
And now let me register a few complaints: Manhattan Theater Club’s very fine revival of Caryl Churchill’s crackling drama Top Girls — blessed with a top-drawer female ensemble that includes Elizabeth Marvel, Marisa Tomei, and Martha Plimpton — received only one nod (for the deserving Plimpton). Yet a Best Revival of a Play spot was given instead to the flaccid Les Liaisons Dangereuses? Mon dieu!
And speaking of Liaisons, lead actor Ben Daniels was rewardedover one of the most captivating performances of the season — IanMcShane’s perverted patriarch in The Homecoming. In a yearwhere the play was indeed the thing, there were so many lead actors whowere simply more deserving than Daniels: Nathan Lane (November), Norbert Leo Butz (Is He Dead?), Brian Cox (Rock ‘n’ Roll), Jimmi Simpson (The Farnsworth Invention). Also overlooked: James Earl Jones’ blustery Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof— a turn I was sure would earn him the Best Featured Actor trophy nextmonth. And poor Cheyenne Jackson. I am not a card-carrying,leg-warmer-wearing, member of the Xanadu fan club. But this immensely appealing lead actor is one major reason Xanaduworks, and if wearing a headband and roller-skating around in shortshorts while singing your heart out doesn’t get you a nod, I’m not surewhat does.
Still, it wouldn’t be awards season without a little grumbling andgrousing, now would it? (And I suspect I’m not the only one whosefavorites were snubbed!) There’s sure to be more drama when the winnersare revealed at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 15.