'Heights' is tops with Tony

Tonyawards_lAs a famous Siamese king once said: "It’s a puzzlement." Usually, I have very few quibbles with the Tony nominations. Yet today, around 8:37 a.m. at NYC’s Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, when Tony winners — and former Spamalot costars — David Hyde Pierce (left) and Sara Ramirez (a.k.a. Grey’s Anatomy‘s Dr. Torres, right) revealed the contenders in 26 categories, I saw more than a few oversights.

First, I’ll give you the big news. The show with the most nominations? In the Heights, which netted astaggering 13 nominations, including two for star/writer Lin-ManuelMiranda.The four Best Play nominees: Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County (the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner, just named New York Drama Critics Circle’s Best Play), Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps. Best Musical: Cry-Baby, In the Heights, Passing Strange (NYDCC’s Best Musical), Xanadu. (A full list of nominees is available at the Tonys’ website.)

So who was crying in their corn flakes? Well, surely Mel Brooks. In 2001 his Producers received 15 nominations — and won a record-setting 12, including Best Musical. This year, his Young Frankenstein received just 3 (for featured performers Andrea Martin and Christopher Fitzgerald, plus best scenic design)… and no one’s forecasting any wins. The Catered Affair company no doubt had their fingers crossed for a Best Musical slot, but the chamber piece was passed over for the flashier Cry-Baby.

And now let me register a few complaints: Manhattan Theater Club’s very fine revival of Caryl Churchill’s crackling drama Top Girls — blessed with a top-drawer female ensemble that includes Elizabeth Marvel, Marisa Tomei, and Martha Plimpton — received only one nod (for the deserving Plimpton). Yet a Best Revival of a Play spot was given instead to the flaccid Les Liaisons Dangereuses? Mon dieu!

addCredit(“David Hyde Pierce and Sara Ramirez: Brad Barket/Getty Images”)

And speaking of Liaisons, lead actor Ben Daniels was rewardedover one of the most captivating performances of the season — IanMcShane’s perverted patriarch in The Homecoming. In a yearwhere the play was indeed the thing, there were so many lead actors whowere simply more deserving than Daniels: Nathan Lane (November), Norbert Leo Butz (Is He Dead?), Brian Cox (Rock ‘n’ Roll), Jimmi Simpson (The Farnsworth Invention). Also overlooked: James Earl Jones’ blustery Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof— a turn I was sure would earn him the Best Featured Actor trophy nextmonth. And poor Cheyenne Jackson. I am not a card-carrying,leg-warmer-wearing, member of the Xanadu fan club. But this immensely appealing lead actor is one major reason Xanaduworks, and if wearing a headband and roller-skating around in shortshorts while singing your heart out doesn’t get you a nod, I’m not surewhat does.

Still, it wouldn’t be awards season without a little grumbling andgrousing, now would it? (And I suspect I’m not the only one whosefavorites were snubbed!) There’s sure to be more drama when the winnersare revealed at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 15.

Comments (32 total) Add your comment
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  • paige

    I couldnt agree more with this whole article but you forgot to mention Kevin Kline in Cyrano

  • heather

    I was looking forward to watching parts of Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstein, and Cry Baby with my daughter. I guess we’ll be doing something else June 15th while I Tivo the ceremony and fast forward to Cry Baby. Most. Unimpressive. Lineup. Ever.

  • notbad

    RE: Heather
    Actually everything nominated for Best Musical is way better than The Little Mermaid or Young Frankenstein, so you and your daughter will actually get to see something good instead of mediocre. Also, the revivals will probably give great Tony performances. I just saw Gypsy and to see any of that again, even on TV, would be awesome.

  • Alex

    Heather, it would be a shame then if you pass missing clips of In the heights, passing strange or xanadu since they were far superior to Young Frankenstein or Little Mermaid.
    In fact it’s great they didn’t award shows that were just big, but actually good this year, despite being more unknown, which is the best reason to watch the Tony’s. To find that gem.

  • Michael H.

    Yeah, poor Cheyenne Jackson! He was the main draw for me in going to see the show and he deserved a nod. At least his leading lady got nominated as did the show. Jackie Hoffman was also a standout in XANADU.

  • bud

    I think the biggest shocker is the lack of noms for Catered Affair. And Cheyenne Jackson..at least we’ll get to see him perform.

  • Stephanie T.

    At least we will hear some decent singing when the Tony’s air. Seriously, has anyone heard the snippet of Meryl Streeps version of ” ABBA’s The Winner Takes it all”?! I heard better vocals from a Coyote! It’s a bad arrangement and she shouts the song.

  • lisa

    Awesome news for In the Heights!!

  • lisa

    Awesome news for In the Heights!!

  • paige

    im shocked that cry-baby was nominated for best musical- it got worse reviews than young frankenstein.

  • EMF

    Passing Strange is great. So happy that it’s getting recognized. Such a unique musical.

  • EMF

    Go Stew!!!!

  • Mozz

    I left IN the HEIGHTS, like i’ve left no piece of Theatre on Broadway in recent years… fracking elated, with a huge smile on my face that lasted DAYS. Well Deserved nominations!!! Vamos a Celebrar!

  • Eli

    Thank God that Young Frankestein and Little Mermaid didn’t get a nomination. I saw both of them, and they were a huge letdown… Young Frankestein was about the worst show i’ve ever seen in my life, and the tickets for it where… well, overpriced is the understatement of the year, and Little Mermaid, while slightly better had no charm in it whatsoever. For my Money, the race is between IN THE HEIGHTS and PASSING STRANGE, two of the best Musicals I have ever seen on BROADWAY… I give IN THE HEIGHTS the edge for its ability to get you on your feet several times in one night. It has by far the best music and lyrics on Broadway, while i give Stew the edge for winning best book of a Musical. I have no clue what Cry Baby and Xanadu are doing in there… but someone has the third and fourth nominee.

  • Eli

    in a year that gave us revelatory musical performances from Lyn-Manuel Miranda and Stew, you really are carping on Cheyene not getting a nomination for a performance that’s nothing more than pretty boy on skates… seriously? seriously?

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