Tonys 2014: Let's talk about those snubs and surprises...

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Image Credit: Michael J. Lutch

With the nominations for the 2014 Tony Awards finally upon us, the race has been blown wide open in one of the most nail-biting stage seasons in recent memory. Although Tuesday’s nominations announcement narrows down the pack to a manageable four or five candidates for Broadway’s highest honors, there’s an overwhelming feeling of absence when it comes to some of the bigger names who didn’t make the cut this year.

Snub: England’s the New Hollywood
All The Way’s Bryan Cranston and Of Mice and Men’s Chris O’Dowd are the marquee names in the race for Best Actor in a Play, but somebody’s got to be left out, and this year the Tony nominators eschewed the rest of the A-list—Zachary Quinto in The Glass Menagerie, Denzel Washington in A Raisin in the Sun, and Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan, to name a few—for British actors like Samuel Barnett and Mark Rylance. In fact, the love bestowed on classical productions like Twelfth Night (tied for most-nominated play with Glass Menagerie) demonstrates the powerful momentum of gorgeous Shakespearean revivals in a season dominated by mega Hollywood names.

Surprise: Sally’s Out, Janis is In
Last week’s final meeting of the Tony administration committee decided that the revival of Cabaret—a carbon copy of the Tony-winning 1998 production—was eligible. But did it even matter? The show was passed over for Best Musical Revival and on most other  fronts, except for Linda Emond and Danny Burstein’s much-deserved featured acting noms. Three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams got no love for her Sally Bowles. In the Best Actress in a Musical category already stacked with intimidating names like Sutton Foster and Idina Menzel, recognition instead went to newcomer Mary Bridget Davies of the long-since-shuttered A Night With Janis Joplin.

Snub: No Awards Land
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart each turned in two fine performances this fall in Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land, but both productions were shut out completely in every category. The Toni Collette-Michael C. Hall-Tracy Letts-Marisa Tomei quartet The Realistic Joneses and fall’s vibrant movie-turned-musical Big Fish were less acclaimed, but equally ignored by nominators.

Surprise: Supporting Shake-Up
Despite poor reviews, Bullets Over Broadway’s standout supporters Marin Mazzie (in the role that won Dianne Wiest an Oscar) and Helene Yorke could have landed on the slate for Featured Actress in a Musical. Both ladies were ignored in favor of pleasant surprises like Hedwig’s Lena Hall and After Midnight’s Adriane Lenox. A representative from Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was expected, but who could guess it would be Lauren Worsham’s docile Phoebe instead of Lisa O’Hare’s flashier Sibella? (On the male front, Bryce Pinkham’s Best Actor in a Musical nod was another welcome surprise for Gentleman’s Guide, although he stands to split votes with Jefferson Mays in a race already half-over thanks to the 800-pound gorilla in fishnets known as Neil Patrick Harris.)

Snub: Rocky Gets Rocked
The buzzy boxing musical earned four nods (for actor Andy Karl, set design, lighting, and choreography), but two of its most overlooked technical achievements—the direction of Alex Timbers and careful sound design by Peter Hylenskki—didn’t even enter the ring. Timbers’ snub is particularly notable, as many pundits thought him the favorite to win the category for his impressive work on the tech-heavy musical. Also, without a crucial Best Musical nod, the show’s box office prospects look, well, rockier.

Surprise/Snub: Many a Musical
A whopping 12 new musicals tread the boards this year, but only four (out of a potential five) made the cut. Of the four Best Musical nominees, only one—Gentleman’s Guide—boasts a completely original score (Aladdin, After Midnight, and Beautiful all feature pre-existing music). Should Best Score nominees like the romantic The Bridges of Madison County or the completely original but critically dismissed If/Then have taken the fifth slot?

Snub: And the Rest…
Other snubs we’re peeved about: Gregg Barnes’ stunning costumes in Aladdin; Jim Norton’s heartbreaking performance as ranch hand Candy in Of Mice and Men; Steven Pasquale’s velvet-voiced Robert in Bridges of Madison County; All The Way’s director Bill Rauch and supporting player Brandon J. Dirden (as Martin Luther King Jr.); Andrew Lippa’s memorable score for Big Fish.

Which plays, musicals, and performances from this year’s Broadway season deserved to make the Tony cut? Let us know your picks for snubs and surprises in the comments!

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