Tony Noms: Our Critic’s Take (and the Complete List of Nominees)

TIME Theater Critic Richard Zoglin offers his analysis of this year's Tony nominees

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The O+M Company, Matthew Murphy / AP Photo

The cast during a performance of the musical "Kinky Boots."

The Tony Award nominations, announced this morning in New York City, set up a clear battle in the race for Best Musical of the season, between two popular, critically acclaimed but very different shows: Matilda: The Musical, the London import based on Roald Dahl’s children’s story, and Kinky Boots, the splashy homegrown show about a struggling shoe factory that tries to save itself by producing stilettos for drag-show entertainers. If not quite a competition between class and mass (both shows are doing sellout business at the box office), it’s an intriguing matchup between a traditional Broadway crowd-pleaser, and a more daring and somewhat darker family musical.

Kinky nudged out Matilda in total nominations, 13 to 12, including two nods for Best Actor in a Musical — for stars Billy Porter (as the leading drag queen) and Stark Sands (as the shoe-factory owner), and one for Cyndi Lauper’s first Broadway score. Matilda grabbed three acting nominations, including one for its own drag queen, Bertie Carvel, who plays the sadistic headmistress who makes little Matilda’s life miserable.

The two other nominees for Best Musical, Bring It Onand A Christmas Story, both of which have closed, don’t stand much of a chance. But they spoiled the evening for a couple of shows that had hopes of a nomination: Motown: The Musical, a jukebox show that is drawing big crowds (and picked up four nominations) and Hands on a Hardbody, the offbeat, country-flavored show about a dozen down-on-their-luck Texans competing to see who can keep their hands on a pickup truck the longest (which got three nominations).

Two musical revivals also got a lot of love from the Tony nominators. Pippin — a new version of the Bob Fosse show, reconceived as an acrobatic spectacle by director Diane Paulus — got 10 nominations, and  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella — originally done for television but making its first appearance Broadway — garnered  9. They’ll compete in the Best Revival category with Annie (which, surprisingly, snagged only a single nomination) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (which got 5).

In the acting categories, the focus as usual was on the snubs. Chief among them was the absence of Bette Midler, considered a near certainty to get nominated for Best Actress in a Play, for her solo turn as Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in I’ll Eat You Last. Just as startling (and more egregious) was the non-nomination for Fiona Shaw, whose solo performance as the Virgin Mary in Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary is one of the most impressive in recent Broadway memory. Also snubbed, less surprisingly, were a couple of Hollywood stars in high-profile Broadway roles: Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Jessica Chastain in The Heiress.

In their place, the nominees for Best Actress in a Play include sentimental favorite Cicely Tyson, in the revival of The Trip to Bountiful; Holland Taylor, for her solo turn as former Texas Governor Ann Richards in Ann; Amy Morton as Martha in the acclaimed revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Laurie Metcalf, as a doctor sliding into dementia in The Other Place; and Kristine Nelson in Christopher Durang’s comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Among those notably left out in the Best Actor category were Alan Cumming, for his dazzling one-man take on Macbeth, and Alec Baldwin, as a kidnapped businessman in a revival of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans. Baldwin had the misfortune to be one of three actors competing from the same play in the same category, and he lost out to British co-star Tom Sturridge. He’ll be competing against Tom Hanks, one Broadway star who didn’t get snubbed, for his role as columnist Mike McAlary in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy; Nathan Lane, in one of his best roles as a gay burlesque performer in The Nance; Tracy Letts for the Virginia Woolf revival, and David Hyde Pierce in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

In a weak season for new plays, Lucky Guy snagged the most nominations, with seven, and will compete for the Best Play award with Christopher Durang’s overratedVanya and Sonia …; Richard Greenberg’s mediocre The Assembled Parties; and The Testament of Mary, a consolation prize for Shaw’s acting snub. The nominators ignored the season’s best American play, Craig Wright’s Grace, starring Paul Rudd as a doomed  evangelist, which had an all-too-short run last fall.

The awards will be given out on Sunday, June 9.

The complete list of nominees:

Best Play
The Assembled Parties, by Richard Greenberg
Lucky Guy, by Nora Ephron
The Testament of Mary, by Colm Toibin
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, by Christopher Durang

Best Musical
Bring It On, The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots, The Musical
Matilda, The Musical

Best Book of a Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical, Joseph Robinette
Kinky Boots, Harvey Fierstein
Matilda, The Musical, Dennis Kelly
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Douglas Carter Beane

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
Orphans
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical
Annie
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Pippin
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Story, The Musical, Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a Hardbody, Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, Lyrics: Amanda Green
Kinky Boots, Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Matilda The Musical, Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda, The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown, The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda, The Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell, Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Matilda, The Musical
Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask, Pippin
David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda, The Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Donald Holder, Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weideman, The Nance

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner, Pippin
Kenneth Posner, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, Pippin
Peter Hylenski, Motown The Musical
John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda, The Musical

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling, Matilda, The Musical
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Chet Walker, Pippin

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, Matilda, The Musical
Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, Motown The Musical
Danny Troob, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Bernard Gersten
Paul Libin
Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Larry Kramer

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
Career Transition For Dancers
William Craver
Peter Lawrence
The Lost Colony
The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda The Musical on Broadway: Sophia
Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro

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