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Nods, snubs and sweeps: Five takeaways from the 2015 Tony Award nominations

By David Cote
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By: David Cote & Adam Feldman

This morning, Broadway-bound Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker announced the nominees for the 2015 Tony Awards. While for us there weren’t a lot of surprises (our pre-nominations were pretty close), there are still lessons to be drawn from the announcement.

RECOMMENDED: See complete Tony Awards coverage

1. Choreography is more than dance. Most of the names in this category came as no surprise: Christopher Wheeldon for his gorgeous ballet sequences for An American in Paris and Casey Nicholaw’s boffo Elizabethan England–meets–Las Vegas showmanship in Something Rotten! But less expected was Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, which created the intricate movement vocabulary for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In this hyper-stylized drama about a youth on the autism spectrum, no character dances, per se, but every footstep and gyration has been carefully plotted out. Nice to see Tony acknowledging that all movement has a method.

2. Harvey Weinstein snubbed—or was he? The widely panned Peter Pan musical Finding Neverland did not receive a single Tony nomination, which some have seen as a defiant gesture toward the show’s producer, Hollywood superpower Harvey Weinstein. And yes, Weinstein has made a lot of clumsy missteps in his dealings with the Broadway community. But the truth is that Finding Neverland just isn’t very good, and in a year with so much competition—ten original musicals, plus five revivals—it was roundly outclassed. Finding Neverland didn’t need to be snubbed: It earned its lack of recognition.

3. The race for Best Musical is the tightest and weirdest in years. Three shows are the main contenders for the most coveted award, Best New Musical: An American in Paris, Fun Home and Something Rotten! If we had to place a bet—right now—on which will take home the gold, it would be a tough call. Each was well-received (even if we were mixed on An American in Paris) and we could easily see all of them running a year from now (although Fun Home could use the bump most). Still, looking at the nominees side by side, you are reminded afresh how silly these contests are: A romantic, classy ballet-centric show based on a beloved movie; a dark, quirky tale of sexual repression inspired by a graphic novel; and a great big silly comedy about Shakespeare, stuffed with Broadway in-jokes. The diversity is heartening.

4. This is the year of the unknowns—who may win. Disinterested bystanders who happened to glance at this year’s nominees might note familiar names—Bradley Cooper, Helen Mirren, Bill Nighy, Elisabeth Moss—but the bulk of nominees in leading roles will probably draw a blank. Geneva Carr? Micah Stock? Emily Skeggs? It was a great year for young performers to make their Broadway debuts. Even better: The race for Best Actor in a Play will probably be a tight race between two intensely talented newbies: Steven Boyer in Hand to God and Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. For Featured Actress in a Musical, there’s a lot of talent in this race, but the win might go to this year’s youngest nominee: 11-year-old Sydney Lucas, who is radiant in Fun Home. Tony loves a fresh face.

5. A new twist in the Best Actress in a Musical showdown. The marquee cage match of the season, as is often the case at the Tonys, is the fight between Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara for Best Actress in a Musical. Both are beloved veterans giving strong performances: Chenoweth pulls out all the stops in On the Twentieth Century with dazzling comic skill, whereas O’Hara brings class and vocal shimmer to her less showy role in The King and I. That O’Hara has never won a Tony—this is her sixth nomination—works to her advantage. But the announcement today that Cheno will cohost the ceremony is a point in her favor: It further endears her to the community, and reminds voters that she’s the rare theater star with crossover mass-culture appeal.

For the record, here are the complete nominees for the 2015 Tony Awards:


Best Play
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Disgraced
Hand to God
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Best Musical
An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit

Best Revival of a Play
The Elephant Man
Skylight
This Is Our Youth
You Can’t Take It with You

Best Revival of a Musical
The King and I
On the Town
On the Twentieth Century

Best Book of a Musical
An American in Paris, Craig Lucas
Fun Home, Lisa Kron
Something Rotten!, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
The Visit, Terrence McNally


Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Fun Home, Music: Jeanine Tesori 
Lyrics: Lisa Kron
The Last Ship, Music & Lyrics: Sting
Something Rotten!, Music & Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
The Visit, Music: John Kander 
Lyrics: Fred Ebb


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris

Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!

Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town 


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century

Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home

Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience

Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man

Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You

Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century

Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home

Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I

Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight

Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It with You


Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century

Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home


Best Costume Design of a Play
Bob Crowley, The Audience

Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

David Zinn, Airline Highway


Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century

Catherine Zuber, The King and I


Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight

Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway


Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit 

Best Direction of a Play
Stephen Daldry, Skylight

Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God


Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home

Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town

Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


Best Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, On the Town

Christopher Gattelli, The King and I

Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


Best Orchestrations
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home

Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Tommy Tune

Special Tony Award
John Cameron Mitchell

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, Ohio

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Stephen Schwartz

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Arnold Abramson
Adrian Bryan-Brown
Gene O’Donovan

Tony Nominations by Production

An American in Paris - 12
Fun Home - 12
Something Rotten! - 10
The King and I - 9
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two - 8
Skylight - 7
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - 6
Hand to God - 5
On the Twentieth Century - 5
The Visit - 5
You Can’t Take It with You - 5
Airline Highway - 4
The Elephant Man - 4
On the Town - 4
The Audience - 3
The Last Ship - 2
Constellations - 1
Disgraced - 1
Gigi - 1
The Heidi Chronicles - 1
It’s Only a Play - 1
This Is Our Youth - 1

Check our Tony Award page for regular analysis and updates. The 69th annual Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS on June 7 from Radio City Music Hall.

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