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« Yes, Yes, Yes: "Big Little Lies" Season 2 | Main | Tweetweek »
Sunday
Apr142019

Stage Door: What's in the running for Tony nominations this year?

With Emmy nomination voting still two months away, the Awards calendar is now strictly focused on the Broadway stage: it's Tony season!

The 2019 Tony Award eligibility runs May 31st, 2018 through April 25th, 2019. The eligible shows will find out their fate when Bebe Neuwirth and Brandon Victor Dixon announce the Tony nominations on Tuesday, April 30th. A Tony win, even moreso than an Emmy or Oscar triumph, can result in a huge change in the financial fortunes of the nominee/winner. That's especially true if the show doesn't come with a major marketing hook like "based on a popular movie" or "hear all your favourite songs by so & so!" in the case of jukebox musicals. 

So what's eligible this year? It's not time for predictions yet but we've compiled all the titles for you in chronological order because that's more interesting than alphabetical...

The Tony nominating committee (about 50 voters wide who serve three year stints), like most mainstream awards committees, has issues with their memory, often shunning early openers for brand new shiny things... which is why you see so many shows opening in April each year. There are exceptions to this. The Drama Desk nominating committee, for example (which honors both Broadway and Off Broadway), meets throughout the year, which theoretically levels the playing field a bit for the early openers.

Shows in red have already closed.

BEST MUSICAL

I personally loved "Head Over Heels" but its Tony chances, even for the hilarious cast (MVPs Bonnie Milligan & Andrew Durand both to the left in this photo), seem slim given lukewarm reviews and an early closing.

  • Pretty Woman (June 16th)
  • Head Over Heels (July 26th - Jan 6th)
  • King Kong (Nov 8th)
  • The Prom (Nov 15th) - REVIEWED
  • The Cher Show (Dec 3rd) - REVIEWED
  • Be More Chill (March 10th)
  • Ain't Too Proud (March 21st) - REVIEWED
  • Beetlejuice (Opening April 25th)
  • Getting the Band Back Together (June 13th - Sept 16th)
  • Hadestown (Opening April 17th)
  • Tootsie (Opening April 23rd) 

This season we've got 4 originals, 4 movie adaptations, and 3 jukebox musicals competing for the four nominations. Overall it's a much stronger field than last year where even Frozen (which is bad) was nominated. The Prom and Hadestown appear to be the frontrunners (?) but there are plenty of options for the other two slots.

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

A new stripped down take on Oklahoma! has been divisive among audiences but the critics love it.

  • Kiss Me Kate (March 14th) REVIEWED
  • Oklahoma! (April 7th)

Years where there are so few eligible productions sometimes have unusual decisions made by the Tony Awards committee but given that both of these shows were well received, we expect the category to move forward with everything that's eligible nominated. The major question, given the lack of competition, is how well they can score in the categories where they're competing with all of those original musicals (i.e. everywhere except book, score, and best musical)

BEST PLAY

Bryan Cranston takes on the ghost of Peter Finch in the stage version of "Network"

  • Straight White Men (July 23rd - Sept 9th)
  • Bernhardt/Hamlet (Sept 25th - Nov 18th) REVIEWED
  • The Nap (Sept 27th - Nov 11th)
  • The Lifespan of a Fact (Oct 18th - Jan 13th)
  • The Ferryman (Oct 21st)
  • American Son (Nov 4th -Jan 27th)
  • The New One (Nov 11th - Jan 20th)
  • Network (Dec 6th - Closing April 28th)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Dec 13th)
  • Choir Boy (Jan 8th - March 10th)
  • What the Constitution Means to Me (March 31st)
  • Hillary and Clinton (Opening April 18th) REVIEWED
  • Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus (Opening April 21st)
  • Ink (Opening April 24th)

A competitive category with a much higher ratio of eligible players to nominees than the other categories. Since plays have shorter runs than musicals there's always the issue of whether or not voters will look back to earlier in the season or just go with the hits of the right-now. 14 titles are vying for the 4 nominations. The only certainty is that The Ferryman will be there. The three plus hour Irish drama has already extended long enough that there's a new cast now.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

The revival of Burn / This officially opens tomorrow. What will the reviews be like?

  • Boys in the Band (May 31st - Aug 11th)
  • The Waverly Gallery (Oct 25th - Jan 27th)
  • Torch Song (Nov 1st - Jan 6th)
  • True West (Jan 24th - Mar 17th)
  • King Lear (April 4th)
  • Burn This (Opening April 16th)
  • All My Sons (Opening April 22nd)

This should be an interesting test case in memory since Boys in the Band (which opened before the actual Tony awards last year so it was really early out of the gate), The Waverly Gallery and Torch Song all opened quite a long time ago (in showbiz time that is) to Tony-worthy raves. It's hard to imagine a category without any of them but will the category have room for all three given that the other titles are so fresh in mind?  

SORRY, THAT'LL BE NEXT SEASON
We don't know much about next season yet even though it's just a few months away-- Broadway plans are always tentative because theaters have to open up first. Opening a show costs a ton of money and requires the schedules to align for lots of in-demand people. The first confirmed musicals arriving will be the stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge! in mid summer and Jagged Little Pill in the early fall (Alanis Morrissette jukebox musical but not a biography). The first play arriving will be another revival of Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune (with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon) in May. Rumored productions for this next season include Tea At Five (with Faye Dunaway playing Katharine Hepburn), another revival of West Side Story, and a Broadway transfer of London's sensationally reviewed / gender-flipped take on Stephen Sondheim's Company. As for movies becoming stage musicals beyond Moulin Rouge! there are a TON in development (if a movie has any reknown whatsoever in this era of nostalgia/familiarity being the #1 marketing hook, it's been optioned for a Broadway adaptation at this point) but for every Tootsie or Beetlejuice that actually arrive there are dozens more rumored titles that never materialize. Some currently rumored titles include Some Like It Hot, Almost Famous, and Empire Records. But even when a title sounds PERFECT and has a star attached it doesn't always happen. A couple of years ago we were hearing that we'd get Kristen Chenoweth doing Meryl Streep's role in a musical version of Death Becomes Her but as awesome as that sounded, it didn't happen.  

OR THE YEAR AFTER THAT
Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster are definitely starring in a revival of The Music Man (as previously mentioned) but it's scheduled for fall 2020 which means it'll be part of the 2021 Tony season.  

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Reader Comments (9)

It would be great to see legendary Elaine May in The Waverly Gallery compete with legendary Glenda Jackson for King Lear in the lead actress.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

"Kristen Chenoweth doing Meryl Streep's role in a musical version of Death Becomes Her..."

Oh my god, can we launch a grassroots effort to make this happen!?

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

A wonderful season - A few thoughts on plays/actresses (**I live in LA but make NY theater priority - I see a lot of shows) -
Nathaniel - I'm sorry you didn't see The Waverly Gallery - Joan Allen and Elaine May!! I saw it and am grateful (how did you miss that??). It was a mesermizing night.

So many wonderful actresses on stage this year - Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, Annette Benning, Kristine Nielsen, Keri Russell .. and so many others.

All that said, the biggest story, to me, is that Maggie Smith is back on stage after 12 years in a one woman show - in London - & getting rave reviews. I have the luxury to see her in a few weeks.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEllsworth

The one about the war criminal and the rapist husband is going to sweep.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNoa

Fingers crossed for an Elaine May win!
She was superb.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Super rooting for Hadestown and especially Amber Gray (who tragically missed out for The Great Comet a few years ago), and Patrick Page.

April 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

I'm counting down the minutes 'til we behold the sight of Faye as Kate!

April 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Play Actress is gonna be a bloodbath. Pulling May for the win!

April 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Laurie Metcalf already has Tony nomination for next season sewn up since she'll be playing Martha in Virginia Woolf.

April 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHoneybee

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