Tony awards 2017: big stars dominate nominations while surprising snubs sting

Bette Midler, Cate Blanchett and Kevin Kline provide some A-list glamour for this year’s nominations, but there’s no love for Amélie and Significant Other

At the Tony awards this year, a comet, a groundhog, deplaned travelers and alienated teenagers will duke it out for best musical. This morning, Jane Krakowski and Christopher Jackson announced the nominations for the 2017 Tony awards, a list that was predictable in some ways (had Bette Midler not received a nod for Hello, Dolly!, riots would have ensued) and surprising in others, particularly concerning new musicals that went mostly or entirely ignored.

Come from Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 dominated the nominations for best musical. Come from Away is a fleet, moving work, but much of the competition should come down to only those last three.

The Tonys has the option to offer five nominations; that it didn’t come to this will make for some very grumpy producers. They’ll also probably be grumpy with only three nods for best revival of a musical: Falsettos, Hello, Dolly! and Miss Saigon. (The lovely Sunday in the Park with George took itself out of competition.)

Natasha, Pierre is gorgeous and wildly innovative, but a compact, beautifully emotive musical like Dear Evan Hansen and a lively, pop culture-approved piece like Groundhog Day may fare better with the touring crowd. If a groundhog walks out to the podium and sees its shadow, what will it mean? The race between Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt and Groundhog Day’s Andy Karl should leave few fingernails unchewed. Best play is also a robust category, with nominations for A Doll’s House, Part 2, Indecent, Oslo and Sweat.

Many shows were shut out entirely, including the Cirque de Soleil fiasco Paramour and Oh, Hello on Broadway, which was closer to a comedy event than a traditional play, a hybrid the Tonys hasn’t made space to honor. Also mostly ignored was The Encounter, which had to settle for a special, and much deserved, award for sound design. DOA revivals of The Cherry Orchard and Les Liaisons Dangereuses also went unheralded, as did revivals of Cats and Sunset Boulevard.

More surprising were complete snubs for Amélie, which starred Hamilton sweetheart Phillipa Soo, and Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other, which featured a bighearted, nerve-jangling performance from Gideon Glick. The nostalgia-laden mob show A Bronx Tale and the a cappella musical In Transit were similarly shunned, as was a rejiggered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in The Present.
Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in The Present. Photograph: Joan Marcus/2016 Joan Marcus

Damned with faint praise was The Present, which scored only a nod for Cate Blanchett, and the well-upholstered revival of The Price, which gave a nomination to Danny DeVito. The new musicals Anastasia and Bandstand picked up a pair of nominations each. Nods for the gorgeous, snoozy War Paint went to the lead actresses and the designers, ignoring book, music and direction. Sally Field earned the only nod for the controversial revival of The Glass Menagerie and Denis Arndt, a jobbing actor who made his Broadway debut at the age of 77, received a nomination for a luminous turn in Heisenberg.

Some races seem already sewn up. They might as well emboss Bette Midler’s statue now. Kevin Kline looks like a strong favorite for Present Laughter and Laurie Metcalf is likely to walk away with the Tony for her A Doll’s House performance, though Laura Linney offers strong competition. (That Allison Janney didn’t make the list was another surprise.) Others are harder to call, including most of the featured role categories and best direction ones, though Rachel Chavkin’s immersive staging of Natasha, Pierre is in a category all its own.

In terms of design, this was a tremendous year for costumes and the lighting categories should be hard fought as well, though Christopher Akerlind deserves recognition for his Indecent work. And despite fine work all around, Mimi Lien’s transformative scenery for Natasha, Pierre should be honored.

The awards will be presented on 11 June at Radio City Music Hall, with Kevin Spacey hosting. Better start teaching the house band those Hello, Dolly! chords now.

  • This article was corrected on 3 May. It was originally stated that The Encounter received no nominations although it did receive a special award for sound design. This has now been amended.


Alexis Soloski

The GuardianTramp

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