Thursday, May 2, 2013

The 2013 Tony Award Nominations: Some Random Thoughts

By now, everybody and their brother has weighed in on this year's Tony Award nominations.  It's the usual outrage and jubilation, dismayed and pleasantly surprised, the commercially viable choices made versus the artistically viable choices made (and even the occasional pleasure when a choice is both commercial AND artistic).  What I have to say is probably nothing new or terribly original, but I do appreciate that some of you actually care what I think about it.  So here goes...

First some general statements:

  • No matter how I feel about who got nominated, I offer every single nominee my wholehearted and sincere congratulations.  Because, no matter what, being nominated for a Tony Award represents one of the highest achievements available to individual theatre professionals, and that is worth unbiased appreciation and applause.
  • I recognize that, more and more, the nominations are a commercial means to an end first and foremost over artistic quality and achievement.  It is no secret that the Tony voters are, by majority, presenters of national touring venues.  Those of us who lament that fact need to understand that money trumps artistic quality more often than not.
  • All of that said, when predicting nominations, and, in turn, winners, I should follow my heart and soul and stop trying to second guess nominators and voters.  Why?  Because my gut instinct is right more than my internal arguments trying to second guess people.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sutton Foster announce the nominees
At this point, I can only really talk about the musicals of the season - I saw all of the eligible musicals.  Over the next weeks prior to the awards ceremony, I'll be seeing some of the plays - The Nance, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, The Assembled Parties and Lucky Guy.

I was pleased that the shows I reviewed most favorably got the most nominations (give or take a few)! (Click on the "Show Reviews" tab at the top of the blog to read my reviews)

Kinky Boots
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Motown: The Musical
A Christmas Story: The Musical
Hands on a Hardbody
Bring It On: The Musical
Jekyll and Hyde

59 out of 65 nominations went to shows I graded "B" or higher!

This year, like last, Mike beat me in the "Will Be Nominated" portion of our guesses, and I beat him by just one vote in the "Should Be Nominated."  Almost every time I was wrong about who WILL be nominated, it was because I replaced a SHOULD be with someone I tried to think too much about!  Check out our nomination guesses HERE.

3 nominees and 1 snubee?
Tony nominee Nathan Lane.
Was The Nance snubbed for Best Play?

A lot has been written about people being "snubbed."  Again, I can't talk about plays with any knowledge, so I can't tell you if Bette Midler, Al Pacino, Sigourney Weaver or Scarlett Johannson actually got snubbed.  But I can speak about musicals with this caveat: It is only a "snub" if the person truly deserved recognition and didn't get it; it is particularly bad when another person did get recognition over a more widely regarded individual or production.  For example, George Hearn not being nominated for Best Featured Actor for Scandalous is, to me, not a snub.  Still, here are a few people and shows I think got "snubbed":

  • Hands on a Hardbody deserved nominations for Best Musical and for Hunter Foster.
  • Daniel Stewart Sherman deserved to be recognized for his work in Kinky Boots.
  • Both Matthew James Thomas and Rachel Bay Jones deserved to be recognized for Pippin, with the most egregious omission from the show being Gypsy Snider (who should have been nominated with Chet Walker).
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood deserved nominations for Betsy Wolfe and Jim Norton and William Ivey Long's costumes.
  • If Charl Brown made the cut, surely there was room for the only interesting character in Motown, Marvin Gaye, played by Bryan Terrell Clark.
  • No Lesli Margherita from Matilda?
  • How could they miss the ingenious lighting for Chaplin by Ken Billington?
  • I'd have picked the score for Bring It On over A Christmas Story, which is saying a lot since I am definitely Team Pasek and Paul.
  • And the only reason to see Annie is the overlooked master of his craft, Anthony Warlow.

Not "snubs" but people I'd like to have seen make the cut: actors Jenn Colella, John Bolton, Erin Dilly, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Jon Rua, David Larsen, Gregory Haney, Ann Harada. Director Mark Brokaw, choreographer Warren Carlyle.

Lead or Featured, Bertie Carvel made quite a spash this season

I don't agree that Bertie Carvel is a lead or Will Chase is featured or Stephanie J. Block is a lead.  In the case of the latter two, unless the revival is substantially rewritten, the eligibility from the original production should be followed, regardless of revival billing.  John Jasper is a leading role and Edwin Drood is a featured role.  All of that said, all three deserve a Tony nomination for thieir work, so I am glad they are in the running!

I think it was great that the nominators recognized subtle, thoughtful performances - Keith Carradine, Lauren Ward, Stark Sands.

4 Tony Honorees

I understand the committee's decision regarding the Matildas.  But if it has anything to do with each girl only doing 2 shows a week, then I think every actress who does two shows a week in Evita, Miss Saigon or any show where the actor/actress playing the leading role is regularly scheduled for two a week should be considered for Tony Honors.

OK... I could probably say more, but I think I've said enough.  Closer to Tony time, Mike and I will predict who we think should and will win.  Until then, let the arguments continue!


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