Musical about Temptations garners 12 Tony Award nominations

musical

BY ASHLEY LEE
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

The Tony Award nominations Tuesday were dominated by new musicals and “Hadestown” led the way, the folk-operatic reimagining of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth collecting 14 nods.

“Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations,” the hit-packed bio-musical that started its life at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, followed with 12 nominations.

“Tootsie,” the musical comedy based on the 1982 Dustin Hoffman movie, had 11 nominations including lead actor Santino Fontana, a front-runner in that category.

Those three productions will face off in the marquee best musical category against “Beetlejuice,” an adaptation of the 1988 supernatural movie starring Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder, which finished with eight nominations; and “The Prom,” a heartwarming show about a high school student banned from bringing her girlfriend to their small-town dance, with seven nominations.

BEST PLAY NOMINATIONS

The shows in contention for best play are “The Ferryman,” Jez Butterworth’s ensemble piece set during the Troubles of Northern Ireland in 1981, which has nine nominations; “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Heidi Schreck’s autobiographical and political commentary piece, two nominations; “Ink,” the hit London transfer that recounts how Rupert Murdoch transformed the British tabloid the Sun, six nominations; “Choir Boy,” Tarell Alvin McCraney’s drama about a prestigious prep school for African American boys (staged at the Geffen Playhouse in 2014), four nominations; and “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” Taylor Mac’s response to Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy starring Nathan Lane, which overcame decidedly mixed reviews to score seven nominations.

Notably absent from the best play contenders: Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Lee Hall’s adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1976 film “Network” — although “Mockingbird” did score nine nominations, “Network” five.

NODS FOR REVIVALS

With so many new musicals debuting this season, only two shows were eligible as best musical revival.

An edgy production of “Oklahoma!” earned eight nominations and will go head to head with a new staging of “Kiss Me, Kate,” which collected four nominations. It is the first time in eight years that only two productions will compete in this category.

The nominees for best revival of a play are “All My Sons,” the Arthur Miller classic with three nominations; “Burn This,” the revival of Lanford Wilson’s intimate drama, three nominations; “The Waverly Gallery,” Kenneth Lonergan’s memory play about a woman battling Alzheimer’s, two nominations; “The Boys in the Band,” Mart Crowley’s 1968 dramedy about pre-Stonewall gay men in New York, two nominations; and “Torch Song,” Harvey Fierstein’s historic work about a gay drag performer, two nominations.

CRANSTON GETS NOD

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Tonys without a bit of star power. Jeff Daniels got a nod for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as did Bryan Cranston for “Network.”

Annette Bening was nominated for “All My Sons,” a revival of the Arthur Miller classic that got three nominations.

Adam Driver got the nod for “Burn This,” the revival of Lanford Wilson’s intimate drama, also with three nominations. Laurie Metcalf was the sole nominee for “Hillary and Clinton,” Lucas Hnath’s imagining of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, as was Ruth Wilson for the gender-swapped staging of “King Lear.”

Some Hollywood names not embraced this year included Glenda Jackson, the snubbed star of “King Lear,” as well as Keri Russell for “Burn This,” Tracy Letts for “All My Sons” and John Lithgow for “Hillary and Clinton.” Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano of “True West” and Lucas Hedges and Michael Cera for “The Waverly Gallery” also went overlooked. Armie Hammer missed out on a nod for “Straight White Men.”

And though “The Boys in the Band” featured Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells in its ensemble, its only acting nomination went to Robin De Jesús for his standout featured performance.

JUNE 9 AWARDS SHOW

Another surprise was the lack of love for “Be More Chill,” which centers on a teenage outcast whose popularity soars upon ingesting a pill-size supercomputer. The show, which evolved from a 2015 regional production cast recording that went viral, got only one nomination — for Joe Iconis’ score.

“The Cher Show,” the musical tracing the performer’s 50-plus years in showbiz, earned only three nominations (including nods for Stephanie J. Block’s lead performance and Bob Mackie’s costumes) but was left out of the best musical race.

The ambitious “King Kong” spectacle, reimagining the 1932 tale of the giant ape tragically enchanted by an actress, was recognized in only three craft categories (scenic design, lighting design and sound design).

The 73nd Tony Awards, celebrating the best of the Broadway season, will be held at Radio City Music Hall on June 9. Hosted by James Corden, the ceremony will air on CBS.

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