WITH ALL-TIME HIGH OF 16 NOMINATIONS, ‘HAMILTON’ IS JUST THE CREAM AT THE TOP OF A SERIOUSLY DEEP SEASON OF MUSICALS, PLAYS
TO NO ONE’S SURPRISE, Hamilton, the history-making musical about American history, led this week’s Tony Award nominations with 16, making it the most nominated show in Broadway history. The musical about the life and death of Alexander Hamilton received one nod in each of the Tonys’ 13 categories and multiple nominees for best actor in a musical and best featured actor in a musical.
Hamilton, often described as a hip-hop musical with an ethnically diverse cast, is much more than that. It combines new ways of storytelling in a score that features rap, but also the sounds of folk, and classic and contemporary Broadway, with sly references to past shows. In its complexity, it’s much like a Stephen Sondheim show: The more you listen to the score, the more new things you hear.
Of special note to metro Atlanta theater-watchers:
- The Alliance Theatre-born musical Tuck Everlasting, which opened April 26 at the Broadhurst Theatre to mixed but generally positive reviews, received a single nomination — for costume design.
Saycon Sengbloh, an Atlanta native, was nominated for featured actress in a play for Eclipsed. She began performing as a teenager in Tri-Cities High School’s arts magnet program, attended Agnes Scott College, is an alum of the Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA) and has worked at the Alliance Theatre under two artistic directors, Kenny Leon and Susan V. Booth. Sengbloh has been seen on Broadway in Aida, Wicked, The Color Purple (original), Hair (2009 revival), Fela!, Motown the Musical and Holler If Ya Hear Me, all musicals. Eclipsed is a her first non-musical Broadway credit.
The Tony awards telecast airs live on CBS at 8 p.m. June 12, with James Corden, a 2012 winner for One Man, Two Guvnors, as host. Pre-show activities — red-carpet arrivals, interviews and such — will stream live on the Tony awards website HERE, beginning no later than 7 p.m.
With its 16 nominations, Hamilton bests previous record-holders The Producers and Billy Elliott, which had 15 each. Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who’s already won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, earned four nominations himself — for best musical, best actor in a musical, best book and best score.
There are only 13 Tony categories, but Hamilton received multiple performance nominations in the categories of best actor in a musical (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr) and best featured actor in a musical (Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Groff as King George and Christopher Jackson as George Washington). VIDEO HERE
Hamilton, which opened last August — less than a year ago — has already grossed more than $60 million at the box office.
And lest we forget, Hamilton wasn’t the only notable musical to open this season (and 2015/16 was an especially deep season for non-musical plays). According to Tony spokesmen, this is the first time in Tony history that five shows earned best-musical nominations. The other nominees:
- Bright Star, the Steve Martin-Edie Brickell project about love and redemption in the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. It has a bluegrass-style score (lots of banjo) and stars Carmen Cusack, whom Fox Theatre audiences might remember as Nellie Forbush in the 2009 national tour of Bartlett Sher’s reinvigorated South Pacific. VIDEO HERE
- Waitress, with a score by alternative pop-rock artist Sara Bareilles, a five-time Grammy Award winner. Jessie Mueller, a 2014 Tony winner for her work as Carole King in Beautiful, plays a small-town waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of escaping her loveless marriage. Inspired by the 2007 Keri Russell movie. VIDEO HERE
- School of Rock, based on the 2003 Jack Black movie, with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a book by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”). VIDEO HERE
- Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, which in any other year would likely be the favorite. George C. Wolfe’s retelling of black theater history has 10 nominations and features the unrivaled talents of multiple Tony Award winners and nominees — Wolfe, choreographer Savion Glover and performers Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys, Violet revival) and Billy Porter (Kinky Boots). Wolfe is nominated for best director and best book, and Glover for best choreographer. The only performers nominated are Brandon Victor Dixon (featured actor/musical), who plays Eubie Blake, and Adrienne Warren (featured actress/musical), who plays two smaller roles. VIDEO HERE
Broadway in Atlanta has already announced that Hamilton will play the Fox Theatre sometime in the 2017/18 season. The other best-musical nominees are good candidates to visit in the next several seasons as well.
Among plays, the top nominees are Eclipsed (6) by Danai Gurira, about how Liberia’s civil war (1989-2003) impacted women hostages; and The Humans by Stephen Karam (also 6), about a modern family facing a crisis.
Among musical revivals, She Loves Me, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s smart and funny valentine to romance, earned eight nominations. Eugene O’Neill’s portrait of family dysfunction, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (7 nominations) and two Arthur Miller dramas, The Crucible and A View From the Bridge, will compete for best revival/play, all of which speaks to the strength and timelessness of the work done by two classic American dramatists. Long Day’s Journey first debuted on Broadway in 1956; The Crucible and A View From the Bridge in 1953 and 1955.
The full list of nominations follows:
- Eclipsed by Danai Gurira.
- The Father by Florian Zeller. A look inside the mind of a retired dancer living with his adult daughter and her husband. Or is he a retired engineer receiving a visit from his daughter? And why do strangers keep turning up in his room?
- The Humans by Stephen Karam.
- King Charles III by Mike Bartlett. A satire that imagines a future in which Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has died and her son, the long-in-waiting Prince Charles, has assumed the throne. Winner of Britian’s 2015 Olivier Award for best play.
- Bright Star.
- School of Rock — The Musical.
- Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
Best revival / play
- Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In its fifth Broadway revival.
- Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge. In its fourth Broadway revival.
- Blackbird by David Harrower. A two-person drama about a woman who tracks down and confronts the man who had an affair with her when she was 12 and was subsequently jailed for statutory rape. The cast: Tony nominees Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams.
- Long Day’s Journey Into Night. In its fifth Broadway revival.
- Noises Off. Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, in its second Broadway revival. Michael Frayn’s three-act farce follows a second-rate company of touring British actors rehearsing, and then performing, a terrible sex farce.
Best revival /musical
- The Color Purple. In its first Broadway revival, 10 years after it first opened. VIDEO HERE
- Fiddler on the Roof. In its fifth Broadway revival. VIDEO HERE
- She Loves Me. Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, in its second full Broadway revival. VIDEO HERE
- Spring Awakening. In its first Broadway revival. The cast included deaf actors and disabled actors. VIDEO HERE
Best book / musical
- Bright Star. Steve Martin.
- Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- School of Rock — The Musical. Julian Fellowes.
- Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. George C. Wolfe.
Best original score
- Bright Star. Music by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; lyrics by Edie Brickell.
- Hamilton. Music + lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- School of Rock. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Glenn Slater (Leap of Faith, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid).
- Waitress. Music + lyrics by Sara Bareilles.
Leading actor / play
- Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- Jeff Daniels, Blackbird.
- Frank Langella, The Father.
- Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III.
- Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.
Leading actress / play
- Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- Laurie Metcalf, Misery.
- Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed.
- Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
- Michelle Williams, Blackbird.
Leading actor / 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.
Leading actress / musical
- Laura Benanti, She Loves Me.
- Carmen Cusack, Bright Star.
- Cynthia Erivo (as Celie), The Color Purple.
- Jessie Mueller, Waitress.
- Phillipa Soo (as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza), Hamilton.
Featured actor / play
- Reed Birney, The Humans.
- Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
- David Furr, Noises Off.
- Richard Goulding, King Charles III.
- Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Featured actress / play
- Pascale Armand, Eclipsed.
- Megan Hilty, Noises Off.
- Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans.
- Andrea Martin, Noises Off.
- Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed.
Featured actor / musical
- Daveed Diggs, Hamilton.
- Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress.
- Jonathan Groff, Hamilton.
- Christopher Jackson, Hamilton.
Featured actress / musical
- Danielle Brooks, as Sofia, in her Broadway debut, in The Color Purple.
- Renée Elise Goldsberry, as Angelica Schuyler, Hamilton’s muse and sister-in-law, in Hamilton.
- Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me.
- Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
- Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
Scenic design / play
- Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin.
- Christopher Oram, Hughie.
- Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.
- David Zinn, The Humans.
Scenic design / musical
- Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho.
- David Korins, Hamilton.
- Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- David Rockwell, She Loves Me.
Costume design / play
- Jane Greenwood, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- Michael Krass, Noises Off.
- Clint Ramos, Eclipsed.
- Tom Scutt, King Charles III.
Costume design / musical
- Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting.
- Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me.
- Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- Paul Tazewell, Hamilton.
Lighting design / play
- Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- Justin Townsend, The Humans.
- Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
- Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
Lighting design / musical
- Howell Binkley, Hamilton.
- Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening.
- Justin Townsend, American Psycho.
Direction / play
- Rupert Goold, King Charles III.
- Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- Joe Mantello, The Humans.
- Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed.
- Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.
Direction / musical
- Michael Arden, Spring Awakening.
- John Doyle, The Color Purple.
- Scott Ellis, She Loves Me.
- Thomas Kail, Hamilton.
- George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton.
- Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
- Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof.
- Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea.
- Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
- August Eriksmoen, Bright Star.
- Larry Hochman, She Loves Me.
- Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton.
- Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.
Special Tony awards
- Sheldon Harnick, primarily a lyricist, with 30 Broadway shows to his credit, including Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, The Apple Tree, Cyrano, The Rothschilds, Tenderloin and Fiorello!
- Marshall W. Mason, primarily a producer, involved with such shows as Master Class, The Seagull, Prelude to a Kiss, Fifth of July and Talley’s Folly.
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AWARD
- Miles Wilkin, a producer involved with such productions as Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed; Tuck Everlasting; Bright Star; The Humans; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; Hands on a Hardbody; War Horse; and many others.
REGIONAL THEATER TONY AWARD
- Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., a professional regional theater with Broadway standards and talent.
ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD
- Brian Stokes Mitchell, the Tony-winning actor. Given in recognition of “a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.”
EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATER
- Seth Gelblum, an entertainment lawyer.
- Joan Lader, a specialist in vocal training and rehabilitation.
- Sally Ann Parsons, co-founder of New York City’s premiere costume shop.
Tony nominations by production
Hamilton — 16
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed — 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
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible — 4
The Color Purple — 4
School of Rock — 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! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan — 1
Thérèse Raquin — 1
Tuck Everlasting — 1