Washington, DC is well represented in this year’s Tony Award Nominations.
There were both smiles and expressions of disbelief when the Tony nominations were announced this morning.
Some of the artists who graced DC area stages last year learned they are Tony nominees.Local producer Larry Kaye and director Michael Mayer’s musical American Idiot was nominated for Best Musical, and Signatures Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer saw Million Dollar Quartet – which he originated in Chicago and is directing at the Nederlander Theatre – won a surprise nomination for the same category. The Kennedy Center production of Ragtime, which played to sold-out houses here last year, won this year’s Helen Hayes Award and which closed on Broadway after a much-too-short run – received 7 nominations, including acting nominations for Helen Hayes Award winner Christiane Noll (Mother) and Bobby Steggert (Mother’s Younger Brother), and a nomination for Helen Hayes Award winner Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s brilliant direction of a cast of over 40 actors. You can only imagine the mixed emotions and pride the Ragtime team must feel today.
Valerie Harper, whose performance as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped was part of Arena Stage’s season at The Lincoln Theatre and which won her the DCTS Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actress in a Play, received a nomination, although the show had a short run in New York.
The revival of Lend Me a Tenor by DC playwright Ken Ludwig was nominated for Best Revival of a Play.
One of the nominated plays is already booked here for next season: Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play will open August 23, 2010 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre .
There were several surprises, shocks, and disappointments, including Michael Mayer not securing a nomination for his direction of American Idiot. None of the outstanding young cast of American Idiot – including Tony Award winner John Gallagher, Jr. (who won playing Moritz in Spring Awakening), received a nomination, and I was stunned when composer Tom Kitt was overlooked. (He last year shared the Tony for composing the score for Next to Normal with lyricist Brian Yorkey and also won for the show’s orchestrations. Recently Tom and Brian were honored with The Pulitzer Prize.) This year, Tom Kitt’s wonderful orchestrations for The Green Day-filled musical didn’t receive a Tony nod.
Other surprises included The Addams Family, which has been “cleaning up” at the box office, garnering only two nominations – for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Kevin Chamberlin, as the sweet and loveable Uncle Fester, and for its score. The nomination for the book of Million Dollar Quartet was head-shaking, because the majority of the NYC area critics attacked the book for getting in the way of the performances of the talented quartet. Ah! The Tony nominations can make you look up at the heavens and say, “WHAT?”
I am personally so happy that Chad Kimball and Montego Glover were given nods for their high-energy performances in Memphis, which garnered 8 nominations. Chad was wonderful as Anthony in the 1999 production of Sweeney Todd at Signature Theatre, and Montego Glover, who wowed audiences here and was nominated for her powerful Helen Hayes-nominated performance as Ti Moune in Round House Theatre’s production of Once on this Island in 2006. I was also thrilled that Christopher Ashley who directed and won a Helen Hayes Award for directing Sweeney Todd at the Sondheim Festival in 2002 – was nominated for directing Memphis.
Memphis’ main competition will come from the musical Fela!, which transferred from Off-Broadway, and leads the pack of new musicals with 11 Tony nominations. But who knows? Lots of interesting things have appeared when they’ve ripped open the Best Musical envelope in the past. Remember Avenue Q beating out Wicked? Maybe American Idiot will pull a shocker.
Chad will be battling it out with Douglas Hodge, whose heart-wrenching and comedic performance as Zaza in the recently re-located (from London to NYC) and intimate production of La Cage aux Folles. Although Ragtime is nominated as Best Musical Revival, it appears that La Cage… has a lock in this category. I am also happy that Levi Kreis was nominated for Best Performance as a Featured Actor in a Musical for pounding on those ivories as Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet. Great balls of fire!
Today’s Tony nominations were exciting, stunning, disappointing, and at times head-shaking, but the good thing is that for the first time in many years, it’s really difficult to predict who will win this year’s Tonys!
For a look at the complete list of the 2010 Tony Award nominations, and for more information about the history of the Tony Awards and past winners, click here.
The Tony Awards will be presented at Radio City Musical Hall on Sunday, June 13th. At 7:00 PM, a live webcast of the portion of the awards ceremony that takes place before the telecast, can be seen on the Tony Awards official website. Then, CBS picks up the coverage from 8-11 PM.
Read Joel’s interviews with Tony Nominees:
Christiane Noll and Bobby Steggert of Ragtime here
Chad Kimball (Memphis) here
Listen to Joel’s interviews with Tony nominees:
Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge of Ragtime here
Valerie Harper of Looped here: