With a crowded field of contenders and no clear frontrunner, Broadway’s busy 2016-17 season was packed with potential for the Tony nominations. But with so much competition for so few slots, there were bound to be disappointments — not to mention a few impromptu celebrations. Who surprised? Who got snubbed? Here are nine big ones.
SURPRISE: “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”
Dave Malloy’s quirky electropop opera had long been expected to do well with the nominations — just not so well that it would rack up a dozen noms, outpacing obvious favorites “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” The show’s nominations for new musical and score seemed assured, as did directing and design nods, but a nom for book wasn’t a shoo-in, and it wasn’t clear how many of the cast members would make the cut in acting categories. Even topliner Josh Groban wasn’t a sure thing, since his title role of Pierre is an odd, retiring one, playing a major part in the proceedings (and singing a couple of big, notable songs) but lurking in the background for a lot of the show. Despite all that, the idiosyncratic show took the lead — thereby lending the musical a promotional boost that could help at the box office once its big-draw star, Groban, finishes off his stint in the show in July.
SNUB: “War Paint”
The compelling real-life story of dueling cosmetics titans, “War Paint” comes from a formidable team: songwriters Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, whose “Grey Gardens” was a Tony contender in 2007; Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Doug Wright (“I Am My Own Wife,” “Grey Gardens”) and “Dear Evan Hansen” director Michael Greif (“Rent,” “Next to Normal”). In another, less crowded season, the show would have vied for a lot more awards. But this year, with the best musical category sticking at four (rather than a possible five), “War Paint” was left out of the big race, as well as competitions for score and book (which went to the new musical nominees). “War Paint” claimed the two noms of which it was assured — acting nods for Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole — plus design slots for set (David Korins) and costumes (Catherine Zuber).
SURPRISE: Denée Benton and Eva Noblezada
Both Benton (“Great Comet”) and Noblezada (“Miss Saigon”) had been tipped as possibilities for the lead actress race alongside sure-things LuPone, Ebersole,and Bette Midler (“Hello, Dolly!”). But the thinking in the industry was that at least one of the two open slots, if not both, would go to faves from previous seasons, Laura Osnes (“Bandstand”) and Phillipa Soo (“Amelie”). Instead, nominators chose two newcomers, making headturning Broadway debuts, to round out the race.
More Details @ Variety