look closely. think twice. cut once.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

HamilTony Nominations (and other related contenders)

Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton
As with last year's reaction to the nominations, I will begin with the caveat that I have not yet seen Waitress or Long Day's Journey Into Night (seeing them both next week, never fear). I also didn't see China Doll, but that's only because I really really really didn't want to.

It was a surprise to no one that Hamilton swept the nominations, getting at least one in every eligible category, and now breaking the record for most nominations with a grand total of 16 (I actually hadn't quite expected that - I was hoping Chris Jackson's Washington would get a nod but hadn't expected Jonathan Groff's George III to also get one). With Hamilton expected to also sweep the awards with wins (we'll get to that closer to the big night), the Plays categories may actually be the more heated and divisive come telecast time.

So below are my general thoughts on nominations and those not nominated. Let's go!



Plays
Strong contenders for the four Best Play slots - Eclipsed, The Father, The Humans, and King Charles III. The plays are all so distinctly different that it's rather hard to even rank them against each other, so it may come down to personal choice. (Personally, I was not a fan of The Humans when I caught it Off-Broadway, and would swap in Therese Raquin for this slot). For Best Revival of a Play, I ... yep, I'm good with this list (The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, Blackbird, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and Noises Off!). No trades needed.

Receiving 0 nominations this season were Act of God, China Doll, and Our Mother's Brief Affair, and in revivals, Fool For Love, Fully Committed, Gin Game, Old Times, and Sylvia. Meanwhile,  Hughie, Misery, and Therese Raquin netted one nomination apiece.



Musicals
Gosh, I wonder which will win for Best Musical. *taps chin in contemplation* Of non-Hamilton nominees, the show I'm most excited to see make the list is School of Rock. I was surprised to see Bright Star here, but I think that was the wild card spot - Shuffle Along has enough power in it, cast and creative team, to push it past its weaknesses, and I don't have an opinion on Waitress yet, except that everyone seems to like it. Looking at the other options, I wouldn't push Tuck Everlasting, Disaster! or American Psycho that aggressively over Bright Star (especially not Tuck, which was profoundly disappointing), though I do think it's too bad On Your Feet! didn't quite make the cut. Allegiance and Amazing Grace never really stood a chance. For Best Revival of a Musical, most of my energy is devoted to being thrilled that Deaf West's Spring Awakening was remembered. The Color Purple and She Loves Me were also incredibly strong productions, and I guess Fiddler on the Roof wasn't going to not get nominated *sigh*. For Best Book of a Musical, I'm again good with this list (Bright Star, Hamilton, School of Rock, and Shuffle Along), though who knows if I'd like to swap in Waitress's book after I see it. I'm actually half-tempted to swap in American Psycho for the Bright Star or Shuffle Along slot, and this is my blog, so let's do it. For Best Original Score, we've got Bright Star, Hamilton, School of Rock, and Waitress (Shuffle Along, Disaster!, and On Your Feet! are, of course, ineligible for this slot), which leaves out Tuck Everlasting and American Psycho, which I'm good with. I didn't think Bright Star's score was good in terms of what a musical theater score should do, but it was still very pretty to listen to.

Receiving 0 nominations this season were Allegiance (in another season, I think at least the three leads might have landed nominations) and Amazing Grace. Meanwhile, Dames at Sea, Disaster!, On Your Feet!, and Tuck Everlasting earned one nomination each.


Acting
For Leading Role in a Play, the lists are largely unsurprising. For Actor, I'd have liked to see Ben Whishaw get a nod for The Crucible, but of Gabriel Byrne, Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Tim Pigott-Smith, and Mark Strong, I don't know whom I'd boot to make room for him. With heavy hitters like this, it's not a big surprise Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jim Parsons were left out, either. For Actress, another excellent list - Jessica Lange, Laurie Metcalf, Lupita Nyong'o, Sophie Okonedo, and Michelle Williams - though it's too bad Annaleigh Ashford (who won for Supporting last year) was left off, for her wonderful performance of the title role in the mediocre revival of Sylvia. For Featured Role in a Play, another good list for Actor (Reed Birney, Bill Camp, David Furr, Richard Goulding, and Michael Shannon) - it's nice to see King Charles III's cast is getting remembered - plays from the fall season don't always fare so well. For Actress, we've got two women from Eclipsed, well-deserved (Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh), against two women from Noises Off!, also well-deserved (Megan Hilty and Andrea Martin). They might split the vote and leave it to Jayne Houdyshell.With unlimited nominees, I think the entire cast of Eclipsed probably would have made the cut here. For Leading Role in a Musical, I was surprised (though happy) to see Zachary Levi make the cut for Actor, and entirely unsurprised (and even happier) to see both Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr., on the list as well. Alex Brightman is another wonderful choice, and though I love Danny Burstein, his Tevye did nothing for me. I'd sooner go with Stokes from Shuffle Along or Benjamin Walker from American Psycho. For Actress, it is disappointing to not have Ana Villafane of On Your Feet! on the list, and a part of me hoped for Sandra Mae Frank from Spring Awakening to get a nod.  But it's hard to begrudge a list that has Laura Benanti, Carmen Cusack, Cynthia Erivo, Jessie Mueller, and Philippa Soo, all giving stellar performances. As for Featured Role in a Musical, this is of course what set Hamilton over the top, netting three nominees for Actor (Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, and Christopher Jackson), and leaving only two slots for non-Hamilton folk - Brandon Victor Dixon and Christopher Fitzgerald. I'm stoked about Diggs, but I'd be willing to sacrifice Groff's nomination to get someone else in the mix (I had my hopes set on Daniel N. Durant from Spring Awakening). And Gavin Creel's enough of a scene stealer in She Loves Me that I actually figured he had a nomination locked in. For Actress, I'm thrilled to see Jennifer Simard on this list, as she was the only thing I liked about Disaster!, and I LOVED her in it. Actually, I'm thrilled to see all the women on this list - Danielle Brooks, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jane Krakowski, and Adrienne Warren - they all did exemplary work, and frankly, each one deserves to win. Oops. I don't have any swaps for this category.



Design
For Scenic Design, I'm very pleased with the lists for both Plays and Musicals - perhaps especially for Therese Raquin's floating prison, and for American Psycho's transformative space. For Costume Design, I ... okay, I don't have a strong opinion here. I looked again at the list and I tried to, but I don't. For Lighting Design, very glad to see Jan Versweyveld's work recognized for the two Miller plays, and Ben Stanton's for Spring Awakening, where the lighting was especially key for guiding the narrative. For Best Direction, again delighted to see whose work was remembered - Rupert Goold's King Charles III and Michael Arden's Spring Awakening. The rest of the list is good, as well. Choreography - at least On Your Feet! got recognized here - the dancing was really spectacular and infectious. I didn't really care for the Fiddler choreography, and would probably swap in Bright Star for this slot. And as for Orchestrations ... idk, looks good from here?

Adrienne Warren in Shuffle Along. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

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