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Photograph: Joan MarcusHamilton

Five takeaways from this year's Hamilton-heavy Tony Award nominations

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman

The 2016 Tony nominations were announced this morning, which are not to be confused with the 2016 TONY nominations that we revealed on Friday. (Sorry!) While many of the actual nominations aligned with our choices, there were a few surprises. Here is our first take, and a full list of this year's nominees.

1. Hamilton is unstoppable. Lin-Manuel’s historical musical has made history once again. With 16 nominations—it was recognized in all 13 Tony categories for which it was eligible, and snagged two nominations for Best Actor in a Musical and three Best Featured Actor in a Musical—the musical has broken the all-time record for Tony nominations. This is even more impressive when you consider that the previous record-holders had advantages: 2001’s The Producers faced a much smaller field of competition, and 2009’s Billy Elliot had an extra category, Best Sound Design, that has since been eliminated. Expect the Hamilton juggernaut to dominate at the awards themselves on June 12. The question now: Can it match—or even beat—The Producers’ record of 12 wins?

2. Audra McDonald is stoppable. With six Tonys already on her mantel, McDonald holds the record for the most Tony wins by an actor. It seemed like a sure bet that she would add another nomination to her résumé this year with her warm, high-spirited starring turn in Shuffle Along. But in the year’s biggest surprise, she was left out of the running for Best Actress in a Musical, one of the tightest categories of the year. (In a different season, On Your Feet!’s Ana Villafañe and Allegiance’s Lea Salonga might have had shots, too.) Out of the ten roles McDonald has originated in Broadway productions, this is only the second time she has not been nominated. Her own success may have worked against her; in a crowded year, the nominators may have felt that she didn’t need the nod.

3. The new Tony rules for actors don’t make much of a difference. Recent changes to the Tony Awards regulations made it possible for there to be as many as seven nominations in the acting categories this year, if there had been a tie among the lowest vote-getters. If ever there was a season in which expanded categories would have come in handy—especially in the musical-theater categories, where 16 shows were eligible—it was this one. But the categories all ended up with the traditional five nominees after all. However unintentional, this can give the appearance of snubbing; it may be time for the Tonys to revisit this rule change.

4. The race for Best Play is tight. Tony nominators tend to make it clear which shows they love. Hamilton and Shuffle Along (10 nominations) dominated the new-musicals field, leaving Waitress (four), School of Rock (four) and the divisive Bright Star (five) behind. (American Psycho nabbed just two nominations, for sets and lighting; Tuck Everlasting, Disaster! and On Your Feet! got just one apiece.) Among musical revivals, She Loves Me (eight nominations) got more love than The Color Purple (four), Fiddler on the Roof (three) and Spring Awakening (three); among play revivals, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (seven) edged out A View from the Bridge (five), Noises Off (five) and The Crucible (four). The closest race: Best Play, where The Humans and Eclipsed each scored six nominations, with King Charles III narrowly behind with five.

5. Great work can be recognized even in shows that are not. Given the Tony’s propensity toward slates, it’s especially notable when contributions to less popular productions are recognized. So special congratulations are in order to actors Jennifer Simard (the hilarious nun in Disaster!) and Laurie Metcalf (Misery), set designers Beowulf Boritt (Thérèse Raquin) and Christopher Oram (Hughie), costume designer Gregg Barnes (Tuck Everlasting) and choreographer Randy Skinner (Dames at Sea). Among the most egregiously overlooked, in our opinion: actors Benjamin Walker (American Psycho), Zanaib Jah (Eclipsed) and Brooks Ashmanskas (Shuffle Along).

RECOMMENDED: See complete Tony Awards 2016 coverage

Here is a complete list of nominees for the 2016 Tony Awards:

Best Play
Eclipsed (Danai Gurira)
The Father (Florian Zeller)
The Humans (Stephen Karam)
King Charles III (Mike Bartlett)

Best Musical
Bright Star
School of Rock
Shuffle Along

Best Revival of a Play
The Crucible
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
A View from the Bridge
Noises Off

Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical
Steve Martin, Bright Star 
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Jessie Nelson, Waitress
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, School of Rock
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman, School of Rock
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Robert Goulding, King Charles III
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Borritt, Thérèse Raquin
Christopher Oram, Hughie
Jan Versweyveld, A View from the Bridge
David Zinn, The Humans

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Es Devlin and Finn Ross, American Psycho
David Korins, Hamilton
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along
David Rockwell, She Loves Me

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jane Greenwood, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Michael Krass, Noises Off
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Tom Scutt, King Charles III

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Jan Versweyveld, The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld, A View from the Bridge

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo van Hove, A View from the Bridge

Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet!

Best Orchestrations
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Sheldon Harnick, lyricist
Marshall W. Mason, Circle Repertory Company founder

Special Tony Award
The National Endowment for the Arts
Miles Wilkin, theater-tour innovator

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey)

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Brian Stokes Mitchell, actor

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Joan Lader, voice coach
Seth Gelblum, attorney
Sally Ann Parsons, owner of costume shop Parson-Meares

Tony Nominations by Production
Hamilton: 16
Shuffle Along: 10
She Loves Me: 8
Long Day's Journey Into Night: 7
Eclipsed: 6
The Humans: 6
Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge: 5
Bright Star: 5
King Charles III: 5
Noises Off: 5
The Crucible: 4
The Color Purple: 4
School of Rock—The Musical: 4
Waitress: 4
Blackbird: 3
Fiddler on the Roof: 3
Spring Awakening: 3
American Psycho: 2
The Father: 2
Dames at Sea: 1
Disaster!: 1
Hughie: 1
Misery: 1
On Your Feet!: 1
Thérèse Raquin: 1
Tuck Everlasting: 1

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