From now until the Tony broadcast on June 12th, theater fans will undoubtedly sound like baseball fans, as they weigh in with predictions, protests and probabilities. This is true every year, but especially true now, thanks to Hamilton, which received an unprecedented 16 Tony nominations yesterday.
That means that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about the Founding Father on the 10-dollar bill received more nominations than any other show in the 70-year history of the Broadway awards. Shuffle Along, George C. Wolfe’s reconstruction of and dissertation on a landmark 1921 all-black musical, received 10 nominations, the second highest.
Hamilton could conceivably win 13 Tony Awards, which itself would be unprecedented. It can’t go higher than that, because of simple arithmetic. Two Hamilton actors, Miranda and Leslie Odom, are competing against one another in the best actor in a musical category, and three from the show – Daveed Diggs as Jefferson, Jonathan Groff as King George, and Christopher Jackson as Washington – are all nominees in the featured actor category.
But the musical actually faces competition in several categories, not just with itself.
Among the most competitive categories is best actress in a leading role in a musical – so competitive that, to some people’s surprise, the nominees did not include Audra McDonald, who has won six competitive Tonys, more than any other actor, and is giving her usual spectacular performance, in Shuffle Along. Phillipa Soo’s performance as Mrs. Hamilton will face four other nominees in that category who have all been extravagantly praised: To go alphabetically, Laura Benanti in She Loves Me; Carmen Cusack in Bright Star, Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple, and Jessie Mueller in Waitress.
An equally suspenseful category is best musical revival, which features four strong contenders: The Color Purple, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, and Spring Awakening, the Deaf West production that paired hearing and deaf performers.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, who is performing in Shuffle Along, was chosen to receive the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for his humanitarian efforts, and the Paper Mill Playhouse of Millburn, NJ will receive this year’s regional Tony Award.
For a rundown on New York City theater awards – not just the Tonys – check out my Guide.
The 2016 Tony Awards® will be broadcast on CBS, live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City, on Sunday June 12, starting at 8 EST. James Corden (Tony winner for One Man, Two Guvnors) will host the Awards.