Tony nominations – Comet soars, with Dolly right behind

119529 Denée Benton and Brittain Ashford in NATASHA

Denée Benton and Brittain Ashford in 12-time nominated Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Picture: Chad Batka

The Tony Award nominators have spoken, and the musical with the Broadway season’s longest title tops the list with a dozen nods: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Sashaying almost on the Comet’s tail is Hello, Dolly! with 10 nominations.

Other musicals in a notably crowded field gaining Tony affection are Dear Evan Hansen, nine nominations; Come From Away and Groundhog Day the Musical, each with seven; Falsettos, with five; and War Paint, four.

Bringing up the rear is a trio of shows, each with two nominations – Anastasia, Bandstand and Miss Saigon – and with a single nod, Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical, which closed up shop in January.

Left out in the cold and, somewhat shockingly so, is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Other new musicals ignored are The Bronx Tale, Amélie and two shows now departed, the Cirque de Soleil spectacle Paramour and In Transit.

Revivals coming up empty-handed include Cats and Sunset Boulevard, whose acclaimed star Glenn Close was ruled ineligible since she played the same role in the original 1994 New York production, winning a Tony for it back then. It’s a thorny business, these Tonys.

And what about Sunday in the Park With George, in which Jake Gyllenhaal had critics raving? That revival, which closed its limited run in April, pulled itself out of any awards competition.

Among the major musical classifications, best musical nods go to Comet, Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day and Come from Away. Cited as best musical revival are Falsettos, Dolly and Miss Saigon. Lead Actress has Dolly’s Bette Midler competing against the two ladies from War Paint, Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone, along with Denée Benton of Comet and Saigon’s Eva Noblezada.

Competition may not be exactly the right word, however, in this contest; Broadway oracles say Midler is a sure thing.

Lead actors in competition are Christian Borle, Falsettos; Josh Groban, Comet; Dolly’s David Hyde Pierce; Groundhog’s Andy Karl; and Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt.

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Bette Midler, a favourite to win the Lead Actress Tony in Hello, Dolly! which received 10 nominations. Picture: Julieta Cervantes

Featured performance actors cited are Dolly’s Gavin Creel; Evan Hansen’s Mike Faist; Comet’s Lucas Steele, and two fellows from Falsettos, Andrew Rannells and Brandon Uranowitz.

On the distaff side, its’ Dolly’s Kate Baldwin; Evan Hansen’s Rachel Bay Jones; Falsettos’ Stephanie J. Block; Come From Away’s Jenn Colella; and Anastasia’s Mary Beth Peil.

Best score contenders are Come From Away’s David Hein and Irene Sankoff; Evan Hansen’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Groundhog’s Tim Minchin; and Comet’s Dave Malloy.

For best book, nominations went to Come From Away’s Hein and Sankoff; Evan Hansen’s Steven Levenson; Groundhog’s Danny Rubin; and Comet’s Malloy.

Director nods went to Come From Away’s Christopher Ashley; Comet’s Rachel Chavkin; Evan Hansen’s Michael Greif; Groundhog’s Matthew Warchus; and Dolly’s Jerry Zaks.

For choreography, it’s Bandstand’s Andy Blankenbuehler; Groundhog’s Peter Darling and Ellen Kane; Come From Away’s Kelly Devine; Holiday Inn’s Denis Jones; and Comet’s Sam Pinklelton.

Who will win? The suspense – and campaigning – will end with the Tony Award presentations on 11 June at New York’s fabled Radio City Music Hall, with Kevin Spacey as host.

             Ron Cohen

Readers may also be interested in:

Hello, Dolly! – Sam S. Shubert Theatre, New York – Review

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 – Imperial Theatre, New York – Review

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