Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Thoughts on the Tony Nominations

Yesterday's election news was hardly good for me, but I couldn't let that deter me from getting to the Tony nominations (I would have had this article out last night, but I'm on a strict "watch a movie a day and watch The Real O'Neals live in order to help keep it on the air" plan this week-you should most definitely join me on the latter, as it's a marvelous show and I'm now on a tangent but WATCH IT).  I did very well with my predictions, so I only have three things that I really want to call out, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to discuss the theater just a wee bit:

1. Hamilton Breaks the Record...Can It Do It Twice?

Yesterday Hamilton officially made history again (the puns just write themselves this afternoon, don't they?) when it took sixteen nominations, one more than either Billy Elliot or The Producers, taking a nomination in literally every category that it was eligible for and likely setting up a mind-numbing sweep at this year's Tony Awards.  The question now is around whether or not it can break the other major Tony record: that of 12 Tony wins, which is currently held by The Producers.  It's nominated in thirteen categories, so it would have to win all of them (The Producers won in every category it was nominated for, but didn't have a female lead actress so Hamilton has the chance to break that tie up).  It seems relatively likely it could tie, but both Best Actress in a Musical (where Cynthia Erivo has to be considered a slight favorite for The Color Purple) and Choreography (where Savion Glover's magic work in Shuffle Along is going to be a fierce competitor) are both tossups at this point.  If it can take both, it seems near-certain that it would be able to be the first Broadway show ever to sweep all categories.

2. Audra McDonald and Jennifer Hudson Get Snubbed

In a seismic moment that threw most of Twitter off-guard, Audra McDonald (for the first time in her career for a musical) wasn't nominated for a Tony Award-in fact, even counting in plays the only time she's ever missed was for Henry IV.  While the Meryl Streep of Broadway took the snub with class, it's still a shock not to see McDonald's name amongst the five women nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, and kind of leaves a vacuum (that could, as I mentioned above, benefit both Erivo and Soo).  McDonald has missed a number of performances and isn't going to be with Shuffle Along for very long so the snub is understandable, but this is almost certainly the biggest shock of Tony nominations morning.

Coupling alongside that is Jennifer Hudson, who took on the Margaret Avery role in the recent revival of The Color Purple.  Hudson's name is plastered all over the poster and marquee, and it was expected by many that while her reviews weren't superb that she would end up gaining the nomination on celebrity alone.  Hudson was also making waves on Twitter yesterday with a surprise amount of candor about her lack of a nomination.  Though she quickly deleted the tweet (likely because it erupted a firestorm), celebrities should know better than to assume screenshots don't live forever, and she basically said she was only hired because of her fame, not because of her talent.  It feels like there's a lot of story there, but this does end Hudson's impressive EGOT-style debut series, where she won an Oscar for her film debut and Grammy for her first album.  She could still EGOT, of course, but she's going to need to give the boards another run in order to do it (perhaps she'll revive Effie White?).

3. Best Actress in a Play is Crazy

Four Oscar nominees litter the lineup for Best Actress in a Play, one of the most talented lineups for an award I've ever seen.  Jessica Lange, Sophie Okonedo, Michelle Williams, and Lupita Nyong'o all make up the list of women competing for the prize, and you would be forgiven for assuming that this was a lineup at the Golden Globes rather than the Tony Awards, though both Okonedo and Lange have had long careers on the stage.  Joining them is TV and theater legend Laurie Metcalf, who is one of my favorite performers (when is she going to get her own Frozen River/The Visiter?), and I suspect that while this is probably going to Nyong'o that there's room for Lange or even Williams to sneak in and take the trophy considering their name recognition and that they are both still on Broadway as well (and neither have won this letter in their EGOT).  Either way, I wish that all actressing lineups were this sensational, as I genuinely love all of these women.

Those are my thoughts-how about yours?  What stood out to you about yesterday's Tony nominations?

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