Thom Geier serves up commentary on movies, TV, books, theater, and all manner of pop culture
There were not a lot of surprises with the Tony nominations today, though one thing is clear: I would not want to be working for Harvey Weinstein. The movie mogul’s maiden producing effort on Broadway, a glossy, big-budget musical based on his 2004 Miramax release Finding Neverland, got the hook from this year’s nominating committee. Even Kelsey Grammer, the supporting player who had the best shot at recognition, went unmentioned. This isn’t a complete shock, given that the show opened to middling reviews in a highly competitive season for new musicals.
Even so, several of this year’s actual nominees might consider swapping their Tony noms for some of Neverland‘s box office receipts. While An American in Paris and Something Rotten! are both tourist-friendly hits, the Best Musical field also includes the lesbian coming-of-age yarn Fun Home and Kander & Ebb’s dark revenge satire The Visit that each face a more challenging path to filling their theaters. Tony bragging rights — and the crucial, potentially sales-boosting performance on June 7’s nationally televised broadcast — should help goose ticket sales.
The biggest boost should come for An American in Paris and Fun Home, which led with 12 nominations each. Neither can win that many prizes, though. Fun Home has three nominees in the featured actress category alone, and American has both Max von Essen and Brandon Uranowitz competing for featured actor.
For most shows on Broadway, Tony recognition is crucial. That’s especially true of completely snubbed productions like It Shoulda Been You, Doctor Zhivago, and Living on Love that have been struggling at the box office. Other weak-selling shows that received only a smattering of nominations — Elisabeth Moss was the sole nominee for The Heidi Chronicles, as was Victoria Clark for Gigi — really needed some Tony love to keep the lights on. For all of these shows, expect a final curtain call before next month’s ceremony.
Speaking of which, this year’s co-hosts are Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth, both Tony-winning Broadway veterans who are familiar to TV viewers — though neither has the mass-audience crossover appeal of Hugh Jackman or Neil Patrick Harris. Chenoweth, a nominee for Best Actress in a Musical for the revival On the Twentieth Century, also happens to be locked in a tight race with Chita Rivera (The Visit) and Kelli O’Hara (The King and I).
Luckily for CBS, there is plenty of wattage among the nominees, particularly in the Best Actress in a Play category: Mad Men star Moss is competing against Helen Mirren (The Audience), Carey Mulligan (Skylight), The Affair star Ruth Wilson (Constellations), and the lone mostly-stage performer, Geneva Carr (Hand to God). Expect a tight race between Mirren and Mulligan, with a slight edge for the queen. Former People Sexiest Man Alive (and three-time Oscar nominee) Bradley Cooper is the starriest of the male nominees (his Elephant Man costars Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola also were recognized), though his race will likely come down to two relative newcomers, Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Steven Boyer in Hand to God.
Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe scored a somewhat surprising nod for his English-language stage debut in The King and I. But the nominating committee passed over other Hollywood figures, including Jackman, Kieran Culkin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matthew Morrison, Larry David, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Glenn Close, and John Lithgow.
As usual, the nominating committee tended to favor productions that recently opened or are still running. Shuttered musicals like The Last Ship, Honeymoon in Vegas, and a well-reviewed revival of Side Show were mostly ignored. The main exception was in revivals, where three of the four nominees have already closed: This Is Our Youth, The Elephant Man, which also picked up three acting nominations, and You Can’t Take It With You, which earned additional nods for director Scott Ellis, featured actress Annaleigh Ashford, sets and costumes.
The most unexpected omission? James Earl Jones, who was widely tipped to pick up his fifth Tony nomination for his own supporting turn in You Can’t Take It With You. (He’s won twice.) Interestingly, he failed to make the cut despite the fact that the featured actor in a play category ballooned this year to six nominees due to a rule change that allowed a sixth nominee if less than three votes separated the fifth and sixth vote-getter. The likeliest beneficiaries: Nivola and Matthew Beard, a British newcomer with just two short scenes in Skylight.
And in an interesting maneuver, Steven Hoggett picked up his third choreography nomination, but it wasn’t for his work on the Sting musical The Last Ship. Instead, it came for the movement in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (he shares the nod with Scott Graham). Choreography is a competitive category this year, but look for Christopher Wheeldon to win for his balletic tour-de-force An American in Paris.