Tony nominees are announced: 3 shows that played D.C. get 4 nods

With three shows that had pre-Broadway stops in the District garnering a fairly anemic four nods, the 2014 Tony nominations were announced Tuesday morning. The most recognized show was the musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” with 10 nominations. Neil Patrick Harris, Audra McDonald, Bryan Cranston and Idina Menzel are among the stars who will be vying June 8 for Broadway’s top honors.

The shows shut out of the best musical category are more notable than the ones nominated. “A Gentleman’s Guide,” a cheeky adaptation of a 1907 novel, will vie for the best musical Tony with Disney’s “Aladdin,” the musical revue “After Midnight” and the biographical “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” Those that fell short with the Tony nominating committee include “If/Then,” which had its tryout at the National Theatre last fall, and other high-profile but poorly reviewed entries such as “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Rocky” and “The Bridges of Madison County.”

The ambitious but flawed “If/Then” got only two nominations, one for Menzel, its star, and the other for the score by composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Brian Yorkey. Menzel will compete against Mary Bridget Davies, whose performance as Janis Joplin in “A Night With Janis Joplin” was featured in two Arena Stage visits. The others in this category are Sutton Foster (“Violet”), Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Kelli O’Hara (“The Bridges of Madison County”).

The contenders for best new play, announced in New York by actors Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu are: James Lapine’s “Act One,” Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way,” Harvey Fierstein’s “Casa Valentina,” Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” and John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar.” “Act One” was the most nominated new play, with five nods. Among the plays ignored in this category were two that had tepidly reviewed tryouts at Arena Stage: Rupert Holmes’s short-lived “A Time to Kill” and Eric Coble’s “The Velocity of Autumn,” which will have its final performance Sunday. One of the latter’s stars, Estelle Parsons, received a nomination for best actress in a play, but the production, directed by Arena’s Molly Smith, drew no other Tony recognition.

The category of best revival of a musical mustered only three contenders, in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Les Miserables” and “Violet.” Best revival of a play is a far more competitive category, with the strong quartet of “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Twelfth Night.”

The oft-honored Mark Rylance — who has won Tonys for performances in “Boeing-Boeing” and “Jerusalem” — pulled off the nifty trick of receiving nominations in both the best actor and best supporting actor categories for his work in “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night,” which were performed on Broadway in revolving repertory. In other notable twists: Denzel Washington was ignored for his work in “A Raisin in the Sun,” while his three co-stars, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose and Sophie Okonedo, were nominated. Shut out in the best actor category, too, was Daniel Radcliffe — who deserved better — of “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” James Franco got no Tony love for his critically panned performance in “Of Mice and Men,” but his co-star, Chris O’Dowd, was nominated for best actor in a play.

Oddly, too, the four strong performances in the ravishing revival of “The Glass Menagerie” resulted in only three nominations, for Cherry Jones, Brian J. Smith and Celia Keenan-Bolger. It’s ironic that what was perhaps the production’s most illuminating portrayal, Zachary Quinto’s Tom, went unappreciated by the Tony nominators.

Watch for John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” — which swept in eight nominations — to have a big night on June 8 as well as Neil Patrick Harris, its star. Cranston, who plays LBJ in “All the Way,” seems likely to extend his winning streak with another acting trophy, too. Otherwise, in this fairly desultory year for Broadway, many of the accolades will be going to shows that in stronger seasons would have been also-rans.

Peter Marks joined the Washington Post as its chief theater critic in 2002. Prior to that he worked for nine years at the New York Times, on the culture, metropolitan and national desks, and spent about four years as its off-Broadway drama critic.
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