Based on a 2005 British movie, the feel-good show claimed the top spot over the Olivier Award-winning English import Matilda the Musical, which got a dozen nominations. Hot director Diane Paulus’ circus-influenced revival of Pippin earned 10 nominations, followed by Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella with nine.
Among plays, the Bartlett Sher-directed revival of Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy leads with eight nominations, followed by the late Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy and Christopher Durang’s Chekhov parody Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with six each. Durang, a much-admired (as well as brainy and funny) playwright, has never won a Tony.
After 868 Tony voters assess the nominees in 26 competitive categories, Broadway’s highest honors will be awarded June 9 in a ceremony at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. CBS will broadcast the show from 8 to 11 p.m.
Several stars from the worlds of movies and television earned Tony nominations, including multiple Oscar winner Tom Hanks, who got a best actor nod in his Broadway debut as controversial columnist Mike McAlary in Ephron’s Lucky Guy. In the highly competitive category of best performance by a leading actress in a play, Laurie Metcalf ( The Other Place), Holland Taylor ( Ann) and Cicely Tyson ( The Trip to Bountiful) are up against Kristine Nielsen ( Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Steppenwolf veteran Amy Morton ( Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).
As always, there were surprising snubs. Bette Midler, returning to Broadway after 40 years to play agent Sue Mengers in the solo show I’ll Eat You Last, was passed over. So were Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain ( The Heiress), Scarlett Johansson ( Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Katie Holmes ( Dead Accounts), Alan Cumming ( Macbeth), Alec Baldwin ( Orphans), Jessica Hecht ( The Assembled Parties), Bobby Cannavale ( The Big Knife) and Fiona Shaw ( Testament of Mary). Record mogul Berry Gordy’s Motown the Musical, a jukebox retelling of his hitmaking history in Detroit, was passed over for best musical nomination. Douglas Carter Beane didn’t get a best play nod for The Nance, though star Nathan Lane was nominated for his portrayal of a gay vaudeville performer (and Beane did get nominated for the new book he wrote for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella).
Two of the gents up for best performance by a leading actor in a musical earned their nominations while wearing dresses. British actor Bertie Carvel, making his Broadway debut, plays the cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical. Billy Porter plays Kinky Boots’ drag queen Lola, the performer whose need for sturdy yet stylish footwear leads to a life-transforming partnership with a shoe factory owner played by Stark Sands — another nominee in that category.
The focal race, however, will be between the edgy-with-heart Kinky Boots and the much-admired Matilda the Musical. We’ll know June 9 whether voters favor kinky or kiddies.