Tina Fey’s musical Mean Girls, which she adapted from her much-beloved and oft-quoted 2004 high school comedy movie, and the goofy undersea adaptation from the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical lead the Tony Award nominations with dozen nods each.
Fey and her husband, Jeff Richmond, who wrote the Mean Girls music, both admitted they awaited the announcement with bated breath.
“We’re new to this whole Broadway thing and this whole musical thing so it was hard to tell which way everything could swing,” Richmond said.
A British revival of Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s monumental, two-part drama about AIDS, life and love during the 1980s, grabbed 11 nominations — the most for any play — 25 years after it first appeared on Broadway.
The shimmering, grown-up musical The Band’s Visit also earned 11 nods.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise extended its magical touch to Broadway, with a two-part stage play featuring the bespectacled wizard earning 10 nominations, as did a revival of My Fair Lady.
Best new musical category is filled by The Band’s Visit, Frozen, Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical.
Those musicals that failed to make the cut were the Hal Prince revue Prince of Broadway, the Jimmy Buffett musical Escape to Margaritaville and Summer, about disco diva Donna Summer.
‘Really thought I would never be here’
Taylor Louderman, a veteran of such musicals as Bring It On The Musical and Kinky Boots, earned her first nomination for playing a high school queen bee who is laid low in Mean Girls.
“I really haven’t sat back and thought about the young version of me and how she would be freaking out right now,” she said.
I just keep thinking of all the happy faces I’m going to see tonight when I go to work.– Jessie Mueller, Carousel
“I’m from a small town where people don’t really get out and dream big. I just really thought I would never be here.”
She faces competition from Lauren Ambrose of My Fair Lady, Hailey Kilgore of Once On This Island,LaChanze of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Katrina Lenk from The Band’s Visit and Jessie Mueller of Carousel.
This is Tony-winner Mueller’s fourth nomination but she said it never gets old.
“It’s still exciting. It always feels different because every show means something different, and is very personal in its own way. I just keep thinking of all the happy faces I’m going to see tonight when I go to work,” she said.
The two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which picks up 19 years from where Rowling’s last novel left off and portrays Potter and his friends as grown-ups, won nine Olivier Awards in London before coming to America and bewitching critics and audiences alike. It now will face The Children, Farinelli and The King, Junk and Latin History for Morons for best new play.
Anthony Boyle won a nomination for best featured actor for his work in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He played Scorpius Malfoy in London and now on Broadway. He said he’s having a ball with Broadway audiences.
“They’re so vocal, it’s like having an extra cast member onstage,” he said. “You hear audible gasps, and sobs. Broadway audiences are incomparable.”
Major names in contention
Best male acting nominations for a play include Denzel Washington, starring in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s epic The Iceman Cometh.
The 2010 Tony winner for Fences will have to face-off against Andrew Garfield in Angels in America, Tom Hollander of Travesties, Jamie Parker of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Mark Rylance in Farinelli and The King.
Amy Schumer, who made her Broadway debut in Steve Martin’s comedy Meteor Shower, won a nomination for best actress in a play. Others in the category include Glenda Jackson from Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Condola Rashad in Saint Joan and Lauren Ridloff in Children of a Lesser God.
Carousel, My Fair Lady and Once on This Island make up the best musical revival category, mostly because they’re only eligible nominees.
The best play revival category is filled by Angels in America, Three Tall Women, Lobby Hero, Travesties and The Iceman Cometh.
While Broadway veterans like Louderman, Mark Rylance and Condola Rashad all received nominations, some Hollywood stars were shut out, including Uma Thurman and Clive Owen.
This season has seen a number of Canadians take on Broadway roles. Michael Cera is nominated for best featured actor in a play for his turn in the Kenneth Lonergan drama Lobby Hero.
Bruce Springsteen, whose solo show mixes songs and stories from his best-selling memoir Born to Run and has been banking over $2 million US each week he’s onstage, will be granted a special, non-competitive Tony, along with John Leguizamo for Latin History for Morons.
Plenty of nominations don’t necessarily lead to actual wins on Tony night. While Hamilton was nominated for 16 awards in 2016 and went on to win 11, just last year Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 earned a leading 12 nominations but got just two technical awards on the big night.
The 72nd annual Tony Awards will be presented Sunday, June 10 at Radio City Music Hall, with the ceremony broadcast live on CBS.
To host this year’s awards, organizers have tapped singer-turned-actors Sara Bareilles, who composed the music for and also appeared in the musical Waitress, and Josh Groban (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812).