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Tony Award Nominations

Another year, another set of Tony nominations. I was surprised to note how many theatrical experiences we covered this year here at The Film Experience. As a proudly NYC based site, we have to get our theater on even if the focus is the movies. But hey, a little television and theater coverage mixed in with a whole lot of movies and Oscar gives us a fuller more rounded persona as a blog, don’t you think? I wasn’t able to watch the actual announcement this morning but my darling Sutton Foster – who is between seasons (hopefully) of the ever-more interesting Bunheads on ABC Family – announced them despite a couple of seasons off the boards now. You know I highly recommend a TV show when I’m okay with it usurping all of a beloved stage star’s time.

In some ways the Tonys are more equivalent to the Golden Globes than the Oscar in that they divvy things up between Plays and Musicals. That doesn’t quite equate to the Globes Drama vs Musical since the theatrical community often respects and embraces comedy in a way that the movie community won’t, but it’s close. So the marquee contests are BEST PLAY and BEST MUSICAL. And these are your nominees…

Best Play

  • The Assembled Parties (Richard Greenberg)
  • Lucky Guy (Nora Ephron)
  • The Testament of Mary (Colm Tóibín)
  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Christopher Durang)

Best Musical

  • Bring It On: The Musical
  • A Christmas Story, The Musical
  • Kinky Boots
  • Matilda The Musical

But before we list all of the nominees I want to demonstrate visually, after the jump, why I find the Tony nominating system so problematic in comparison to the other awards shows.

You’ll note that there are 4 nominations in the Best Picture equivalent Tony categories rather than Oscars once-traditional 5. But the Tony system doesn’t account for how healthy any particular season is for these categories so if there are only 4 musicals produced, bingo, you’re a nominee! So look at the disparity here in this visual of what happened with the other two marquee categories BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY and BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL.

What you see in the visuals is every eligible production for each category with the non-nominees crudely crossed out. It was certainly no shame to be left out of the “Revival of a Play” category this year because your chances weren’t so great to begin with. Healthy competitors have been opening since the season began. Over in the parallel musical category, however, if you are the sole snubbee Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde wouldn’t you be a little embarrassed this morning? Shouldn’t the number of nominees adjust to the size of the competitive slate the way the Best Animated Oscar does? Fewer than the full set if it’s a sparse year?

Best Revival of a Play

  • Golden Boy
  • Orphans
  • The Trip to Bountiful
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical

  • Annie
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Pippin
  • Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Pippin will prove impossible to beat in the Revival Musical category but I'm less sure of which Play Revival has the heat. Woolf won great reviews but it's revived often. Will it be Trip to Bountiful?


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Tom Hanks Lucky Guy
  • Nathan Lane The Nance
  • Tracy Letts Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • David Hyde Pierce Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Tom Sturridge Orphans

One of these things is not like the other! Tom Sturridge is giving an awards-grabby performance in Orphans and the film did well at the Tony Awards despite its troubled history but it's still something of a shock to see such a young actor bump out such a Tony regular like Alan Cumming who returned to the boards with a one man Macbeth. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Laurie Metcalf The Other Place
  • Amy Morton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Kristine Nielsen Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Holland Taylor Ann
  • Cicely Tyson The Trip to Bountiful

Dancin Dan just reviewed The Trip to Bountiful for us and was mightily moved by Cicely Tyson's work. I haven't seen that one yet but I reviewed both Vanya and The Other Place and Tyson has some fierce competition in this category. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Danny Burstein -Golden Boy
  • Richard Kind -The Big Knife
  • Billy Magnussen -Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Tony Shalhoub -Golden Boy
  • Courtney B. Vance -Lucky Guy

I don't imagine he has a prayer in hell against stage vets like Burstein or an awards magnet like Shalhoub but I completely loved Billy Magnussen in Vanya and Sonia... he plays Spike, an excessively dumb exhibitionist actor. Really funny performance and works well off all the other far more cerebral characters. Review here.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Carrie Coon -Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Shalita Grant -Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  •  Judith Ivey -The Heiress
  •  Judith Light -The Assembled Parties
  • Condola Rashad -The Trip to Bountiful

Best Direction of a Play

  • Pam MacKinnon -Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Nicholas Martin -Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Bartlett Sher -Golden Boy
  •  George C. Wolfe -Lucky Guy

Best Scenic Design of a Play

  • John Lee Beatty -The Nance
  •  Santo Loquasto -The Assembled Parties
  •  David Rockwell -Lucky Guy
  •  Michael Yeargan -Golden Boy

Best Costume Design of a Play

  • Soutra Gilmour -Cyrano de Bergerac 
  • Ann Roth -The Nance 
  • Albert Wolsky The Heiress 
  • Catherine Zuber -Golden Boy

Best Lighting Design of a Play

  • Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer -Lucky Guy
  • Donald Holder -Golden Boy
  • Jennifer Tipton -The Testament of Mary
  •  Japhy Weideman -The Nance

Best Sound Design of a Play

  • John Gromada -The Trip to Bountiful 
  • Mel Mercier -The Testament of Mary 
  • Leon Rothenberg -The Nance 
  • Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg -Golden Boy


Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella won 9 nominations (!) That's Victoria Clark above (from The Light in the Piazza) cradling the future princess

Best Book of a Musical

  • A Christmas Story, The Musical (Joseph Robinette)
  • Kinky Boots (Harvey Fierstein)
  • Matilda The Musical (Dennis Kelly)
  • Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Douglas Carter Beane)

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

  • A Christmas Story, The Musical (Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
  • Hands on a Hardbody (Music:Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green; Lyrics: Amanda Green) 
  • Kinky Boots (Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper) 
  • Matilda The Musical (Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin)

Hands on a Hardbody was a critical hit and did well in nominations but they unceremoniously dumped it for Bring It On in the big category. Wonder why? 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Bertie Carvel -Matilda The Musical 
  • Santino Fontana -Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella 
  • Rob McClure -Chaplin 
  • Billy Porter -Kinky Boots 
  • Stark Sands -Kinky Boots 

You may recall that Michael wrote about Chaplin here some time ago and also had high praise for Rob McClure in the title role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical 

  • Stephanie J. Block -The Mystery of Edwin Drood 
  • Carolee Carmello -Scandalous 
  • Valisia LeKae -Motown The Musical 
  • Patina Miller -Pippin 
  • Laura Osnes -Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Charl Brown -Motown The Musical 
  • Keith Carradine -Hands on a Hardbody 
  • Will Chase -The Mystery of Edwin Drood 
  • Gabriel Ebert -Matilda The Musical 
  • Terrence Mann- Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical


  • Annaleigh Ashford Kinky Boots 
  • Victoria Clark Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella 
  • Andrea Martin Pippin 
  • Keala Settle Hands on a Hardbody 
  • Lauren Ward Matilda The Musical

Though I felt like I'd seen a lot this year, I've only seen one of these performances. Annaleigh Ashford was just hilarious in Kinky Boots in a role that I don't even remember from the film (though I'm sure it was there) and who completely sells her big comic-lovestruck number in the first act. 

Best Direction of a Musical

  • Scott Ellis The Mystery of Edwin Drood 
  • Jerry Mitchell Kinky Boots 
  • Diane Paulus Pippin 
  • Matthew Warchus Matilda The Musical 

Best Choreography

  • Andy Blankenbuehler Bring It On: The Musical
  • Peter Darling Matilda The Musical
  •  Jerry Mitchell Kinky Boots 
  • Chet Walker Pippin 

Best Orchestrations 

  • Chris Nightingale Matilda The Musical 
  • Stephen Oremus Kinky Boots 
  • Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook Motown The Musical 
  • Danny Troob Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella 

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

  • Rob Howell Matilda The Musical
  •  Anna Louizos The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Scott Pask Pippin
  • David Rockwell Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Musical

  • Gregg Barnes Kinky Boots
  • Rob Howell Matilda The Musical
  • Dominique Lemieux Pippin
  • William Ivey Long Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

  • Kenneth Posner Kinky Boots
  • Kenneth Posner Pippin
  • Kenneth Posner Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
  • Hugh Vanstone Matilda The Musical

Someone has basically cornered this market on Broadway, eh?

Best Sound Design of a Musical

  • Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm Pippin
  • Peter Hylenski Motown The Musical
  • John Shivers Kinky Boots
  • Nevin Steinberg Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Special Tony Award® for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Bernard Gersten Paul Libin Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award
Huntington Theatre Company

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Larry Kramer

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

  • Career Transition For Dancers 
  • William Craver Peter Lawrence The Lost Colony 
  • The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda The Musical

I'm unclear as to why the four actresses who played Matilda weren't eligible but the Billy Elliott boys were. Hmmmm.



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Reader Comments (27)

Sigourney Weaver snubbed :-(

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I'm pretty sure they've announced that Bunheads got renewed, so Sutton should be back for more.

Every year it seems as if the Tony Awards are going back-and-forth on whether they are going to go movie star-crazy or not. This year, obviously, was a year where they skipped it (Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Chastain, Bette Midler, Al Pacino, and Jim Parsons were amongst the non-nominees this year), whereas next year they could be all for it.

And while I loved some of this morning's announcements (how great were Bertie Carvel and Gabriel Ebert in Matilda, Holland Taylor rocked Ann, Will Chase was awesome in Drood), I feel a bit sad that every single original musical is based on a movie. I know that's the trend, but didn't Book of Mormon show that an audience will go to a show with great word of mouth even without a built-in audience?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

So odd that THE TESTAMENT OF MARY, a one-woman show, is nominated for Best Play but not Best Actress. I knew Sigourney wasn't gonna make it, but Fiona Shaw? I mean, really -- FIONA. SHAW.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

My favorite nomination of the bunch is the wonderful Stephanie J. Block, FINALLY getting a Tony nomination after so many years as a replacement for Tony-winning roles and roles that just missed with the Tonys. The Mystery of Edwin Drood is probably my favorite theater experience in the past year, and she was a big part of that.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Walter-I'd imagine the default nomination that goes to Scott Rudin every year might have been a part of that. The man is the John Williams of the Tony Awards.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Totally right, John T. No starf*cking this year (except for Tom Hanks)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

I finally saw Bunheads, and what a trippy, fun experience. Sutton is, of course, so cute, and I mean that in a good way. And Kelly Bishop, who I've adored since Picket Fences, is nailing every line. Sublime comic timing all round. A quirky premise that doesn't overdo the bizarro factor like some trendy comedies are prone to. A very sweet and human show, and adding Nathan Parsons don't hurt.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

walter -- especially since Fiona is arguably better than the play. Or at least better than the direction but more on that when i get a chance to write it up.

john t -- i've asked and asked and looked but i've never seen official word on that show coming back. i'm starting to worry. that seemed to happen with ringer... which was not a good show... where it was not "cancelled" when and as emphatically as shows generally are but then it just never came back. so cancelled very quietly? Bunheads just keeps getting better which is a GREAT sign for a second season since the best and smartest shows sometimes need time to decided exactly what it is that they are.

April 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@JohnT "The Book of Mormon" has a built-in audience: It's created by the guys who did "South Park" so their names have a bit of a cache. Those guys can afford to stage a totally original musical. Plus: "Matilda" is NOT based on a movie but rather a book that just happened to have had a movie version before. I've also been told "Bring It On" has really NOTHING to do with the movie. They're both about cheerleaders and that's it. The story and characters are completely original and they're using the name simply as a marketing tool.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

As a film lover, I guess at least part of me should be happy that this year's crop of best musical nominees are adaptations of films; however, as a theatre performer and lover, I weep for the future of the art form. I'm trying to accept that this is obviously the next phase in the evolution of the medium, yet it still feels so wrong and outright lazy.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

But Bring It On is banking on the name association with the movie. Same with A Christmas Story. Matilda in London definitely favored more of Dahl's book but more people, or at least people within the age-range Matilda appeals to, are familiar with the movie. The Kinky Boots may have been based on a movie but it was in no way the across the pond cross-over hit like The Full Monty (that for some reason decided to get super-Americanized in the stage version) or Once or Billy Elliot. Cyndi Lauper doing the score is the aspect of that musical most recognized.

Saw the Letts and Morton Virginia Woolf in DC two years ago. It has still not left me. Incredible performances as George and Martha that offered a different glimpse into their dynamic. I guess Tyson is a shoo-in for a Tony but I really want Morton to finally get a Tony.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Bette Midler :(

Happy Patina Miller will win that Tony, though. And awesome that Condola Rashad got nominated. Surprised Sigourney got left out, though.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Interesting, no ScarJo or Jessica C...

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I'm so happy that Laurie Metcalf has been recognized for her stunning performance in 'The Other Place.' I thought that she'd be left out out because her show closed in early March.

Best Actress in a Play is such a strong category. I'd love to see a tie between Metcalf, Amy Morton, and Cicely Tyson.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

To me, this is one of the weirdest slates of Tony nominees in recent memory.

Nathan Lane gets nominated for The Nance, but it misses Best Play, while The Testament of Mary gets nommed and Fiona Shaw does not? And NOTHING for Alan Cumming's one-man Macbeth (which is BRILLIANT) or Bette Midler in I'll Eat You Last, which got far better reviews than anyone was anticipating (both for the play AND her performance)? Everyone in (the also BRILLIANT revival of) Virginia Woolf get nominated EXCEPT Madison Dirks, in favor of double nominees from Golden Boy? And that's just on the play side of things.

Anyway, I'm pulling for: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Virginia Woolf, Tracy Letts (bar none the best performance I've seen all season), Cicely Tyson, Stephanie J. Block (who was HILARIOUS in Drood), and... withholding judgment on most of the musical categories until I see Pippin (two weeks!), Matilda, and Kinky Boots (both in June).

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

High hopes for Diane Paulus. If "Pippin" wins Best Revival, which it probably will, Paulus will have helmed three of the last five winners in the category. It's about time she took home Best Director.

Bizarre that the three boys who rotated in the lead for "Billy Elliot" but the four girls in "Matilda" are ineligible.

All of the Best Musical nominees this year are based on movies (and in the case of "Matilda," a book-turned-movie)...not that they had many alternatives, but I'm still disappointed.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

There's a great bunch of musicals playing in NYC now, unfortunately they are not all on Broadway. Here Lies Love and Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (which is AMAZING) are both off-Broadway affairs. As was the recent (and lovely) revival of Sondheim's Passion (which like every Sondheim revival manages to be the most cutting edge musical in town).

I need to see Pippin and Matilda.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

I cant believe Tom Sturridge edged out Alan Cumming!

What an achievement for an unknown, 27-year-old to land a Best Actor nomination against stage veterans on your Broadway DEBUT!!! Well done, mate!

I didn't think the Tony Committee had it in them. So unexpected.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRiz

I'm not sure if 'Bring It On''s nomination is due it being good (it was better than expected) or the lack of quality in other musicals this season, especially when 'Bring It On' closed last summer. I'm surprised it got in over the still-playing and just as buzzed 'Motown'. Either way, another year, another list of film adaptation in the 'original' musical category. I do like the Stark Sands nod though. Had a crush on the guy since 'Generation Kill' and 'Journey's End'.

I was pretty underwhelmed with the musicals this season, (maybe save for 'Matilda'... maybe). Plays rocked it as usual. The Baldwin snub is little surprising considering his co-star got in and Baldwin has bigger wattage power... Guess the star vote went to Tom Hanks in his attempt to EGOT. I thought Hanks was good, but the play... how'd that get a best play nod? Oy.

Here's to 'Virginia Woolf' sweeping. Doubt it, it probably won't even win one.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

See, I wasn't very impressed with Fiona Shaw but I though the play had a lot of potential. The direction is terrible and Fiona Shaw had to scream and cry at random the entire time even when it was at odds with the text.

I'm very happy A Christmas Story and Bring It On were remembered for Best Musical. They were great shows. I wish there could have been a fifth slot for Hands on a Hardbody but I knew that was a long shot for everything but featured actress. Keala plays the religious woman from the documentary and, if you've seen the film, you know how juicy that damn part is. Her solo song was the marketing campaign for the show for good reason.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Ale-Alejandro, I've heard good things about both those shows. Hopefully we'll get cast recordings!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

The most competitive category seems to be best actress in a play even without Midler and Shaw. That's good news for actressexuals all over the globe.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Santino Fontana and I have performed in plays together. He stole the hero parts in my middle school plays, and I was forced to play the villain (though, let's be honest, that's more fun anyway). So I'm very happy for him, and now, I am off to write an Oscar-nominated script out of spite.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Sorry to see Sigourney not get a nod, especially since the three other principals did, but so pleased for Billy Magnussen being nominated. It's always nice to notice a young talent, actor or actress, at the beginning of their career as I did with him and then watch them progress steadily forward as he has done. Hopefully he'll continue on to even more acclaim.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I think it's been a pretty weak season, actually, but I was SO happy to see Laurie Metcalf get nominated. I'd love for her to pull out a surprise win. She was stunning.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Weaver was weakest link in that show so not surprised she wasn't nominated. Pulling for Kristine Nielsen. Also like Holland Taylor who has amused me for years in character roles. Would also be pleased for Amy Morton who SHOULD have played Barbara in the film adaptation of A:OC (heard thru the Internet chatter re early screenings that Roberts is a hammy mess in the role).

Any word on who's hosting the Tonys this year?

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Why did Gabriel Ebert not shake Alan Cummings hand when Alan extended his hand?1 I thought that was very rude of Gabriel! Not good.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMs. G

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