I've been getting a lot of calls in the last few weeks asking me what I thought of the Tony nominations. Often I am surprised with something right as the nominations come out, but, upon reflection, my surprise changes to understanding. This year that wasn't so. My opinions haven't changed since the announcements.
My reactions are few, but I'll share them with you en masse.
Aladdin's design team got robbed. I believe Natasha Katz, Gregg Barnes and Bob Crowley all should have received nominations. Yet not one got one? This would be more easily understandable to me had the show garnered no nods -- then I would consider their omission part of a backlash. But here the musical received a nod as Best Musical and even one for its book (which I found meh). Who thought Howell Binkley's After Midnight lighting was better than Natasha Katz's Aladdin work? That show rises and falls on its look -- the magical cartoon landscape created is what makes the production. I believe Katz, Barnes and Crowley all deserved to be singled out.
The Best Revival of a Musical category was just as I would have picked it, as my readers know. So I was happy with that one. Someone on Talkin Broadway wondered why this battle was important to me. In a world where we are constantly debating the importance of critics and awards, the Tony Awards still mean a good deal. Yes, not every show needs a nomination to propel it. There are those with winning names or marquee talent that sell themselves. But it can be significant to smaller shows. As a community, we should support creativity. We should want to help new productions. That is why I believe re-mountings of revivals should not be eligible.
Yay, Anika Larsen and Jarrod Spector! I was rooting for them, but neither of them were definite.
I must have seen an off performance of After Midnight. I didn't get Adriane Lenox's performance and neither did the crowd the night I saw it. When I was there, it was all about the trio of ladies and the tappers (and of course Fantasia). Lenox's numbers really didn't get any squeals. So I am surprised at that nomination. Marin Mazzie deserved it more, in my mind.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the nomination of Mare Winningham. I am still upset she didn't win an Oscar for her performance in Georgia.
Of course the real story, as Michael Riedel will keep reminding us, was Realistic Joneses being omitted from the nominations. Most of my calls ask me to weigh in on that in particular. I liked Realistic Joneses more than many. I was happy I saw it. I think it had a unique point-of-view, one worthy of being heard. However I was not surprised that it didn't garner any nominations. As a play, it turned many people off. (I wrote down reactions of some folks coming out, most of which were hilarious.) The performances were all solid, but I didn't leave thinking any actor was a shoo-in. I wouldn't have been surprised if it did receive nominations. I just also was not very surprised by this outcome.
As we enter the Tony Awards, many categories, including the two big ones, remain up-for-grabs. It is an odd season without clear front-runners. It will be interesting to see what happens on Tony night. Tune in June 8.