Why don’t they just call them the Hamiltons? The Tony Award nominations for the 2015-16 Broadway season were announced today (Tuesday) and a record-breaking 16 of them went to the blockbuster Hamilton, which delivers a hip-hop look at Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers of the United States. The count beats the previous record of 15 held by both The Producers and Billy Elliot.
The show will share the Best Musical race (although the odds on Hamilton hardly make it a race) with Bright Star, School of Rock – The Musical, Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed and Waitress.
The nods to Hamilton include three specifically for its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda: Best Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in the title role, Best Book and Best Original Score.
In the Best Actor category, Miranda will compete with his fellow performer Leslie Odom Jr, who interestingly enough portrays Aaron Burr, the man who killed Hamilton in a duel.
Others in the Hamilton landslide include lead actress Phillipa Soo, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and featured actress Renee Elise Goldsberry.
Crowding the featured actor in a musical competition are three of Hamilton’s cohorts: Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff and Christopher Jackson. The show was also cited for its scenic design, costumes, lighting and orchestrations.
Now, let’s forget about Hamilton for a moment (if such a thing is possible.)
Picking up nods for Best Revival of a Musical were:
The Color Purple, also cited for lead actress Cynthia Erivo, featured actress Danielle Brooks and director John Doyle.
Fiddler On the Roof, also nominated for lead actor Danny Burstein and choreographer Hofesh Shechter.
She Loves Me, with a small bonanza of additional citings for lead actor Zachary Levi, lead actress Laura Benanti, featured actress Jane Krakowski and director Scott Ellis, plus orchestrations, costumes and scenic design.
Spring Awakening, also nominated for its director Michael Arden and lighting.
Among the non-Hamilton contenders for Best Musical:
Shuffle Along etc. picked up a hefty additional nine nominations: featured actor Brandon Victor Dixon, featured actress Adrienne Warren. director George C. Wolfe, also cited for his book, choreographer Savion Glover, orchestrations, set design, costumes, and lighting. (The news here is that this is one of the rare times that Shuffle Along star Audra McDonald has walked on stage and not received a Tony nomination. She will have to be content for the moment with her six Tony Awards.)
Bright Star received four other nods: lead actress Carmen Cusack, Steve Martin’s book, the score by Martin and Edie Brickell, and its orchestrations.
Waitress was additionally named for: lead actress Jessie Mueller, Sara Bareilles’ score and featured actor Christopher Fitzgerald.
School of Rock – The Musical was also cited for: lead actor Alex Brightman, the score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater and the book by Julian Fellowes.
Other nominees in the musical arena include American Psycho, picked for both set and lighting; Tuck Everlasting getting a single nod for costumes; and On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estafen, cited for Sergio Trujillo’s choreography.
Disaster!’s single nomination went to featured actress Jennifer Simard, while the long-shuttered Dames at Sea was nominated for Randy Skinner’s choreography.
Recipients of non-competitive Tony Awards this year include Sheldon Harnick, honoured for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. The 91-year-old composer is seeing two of his shows currently being revived on Broadway: Fiddler On the Roof and She Loves Me, and last year there was an Off-Broadway reworking of Harnick’s The Rothschilds.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, one of Broadway’s favourite leading men and currently one of the headliners in Shuffle Along, will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award, recognising volunteer and humanitarian service, for his work with The Actors Fund. The organisation provides a wide range of assistance to those in need in the entertainment community.
The nominations were announced by Broadway luminaries Nikki M. James and Andrew Rannells at the Paramount Hotel, which happens to sit right across the street from the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where guess what’s playing? That’s right – Hamilton!
Readers may also be interested in:
Hamilton – The Public Theater, New York – Review
The Color Purple – Bernard B Jacobs Theatre, New York – Review