Is this a snub I see before me? Notable omissions from the Tony nominations
A rundown of some big names who didn't fare too well this year
It's not much of a surprise, but the biggest snub of the 2022 Tony nominations is Beanie Feldstein for Funny Girl. The most polarising performance of the year, Beanie has attracted hordes of haters, but also plenty of defenders (I was charmed by her comic timing and palpable vulnerability). I predicted that enough of the nominators would agree with me that she would earn a nod in the Leading Actress in a Musical category, but they did not.
Beanie is in good company over at the August Wilson Theatre: Funny Girl was not nominated for Best Revival, nor was Ramin Karimloo for his performance as Nick Arnstein, nor was Jane Lynch for playing Mrs Brice. The single nomination went to Jared Grimes for his portrayal of Eddie Ryan and his remarkable tap routine. Leaving him off the list would have been a crime.
Six got a lot of love, with eight total nominations. Unfortunately, none of them went to the six actors who play Henry VIII's six wives, all of whom were eligible for the Leading Actress category. As my colleague David Gordon and I both predicted, the nominators were unable to select one or two of the women to elevate over the others, and putting all six of them in the category must have seemed like a bridge too far when considering all of the other talented musical leads this season. (As it turns out, three is a more acceptable number for this sort of thing, as all three of the actors in The Lehman Trilogy were nominated in the Leading Actor in a Play category, making that a seven-man race.)
The 2021-22 season was an especially good one for new plays, and there were several surprising omissions in the Best Play category: Most shocking to me was Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's Pass Over, which set the pace for the season by being the first Broadway play to open following the long pandemic shutdown. The nominators decided to completely pass over the play, giving it not one nomination.
I was also surprised by the omission of Lucas Hnath's Dana H in the Best Play category. It ran in rep at the Lyceum with Tina Satter's Is This a Room (the omission of that one wasn't much of a surprise, as the script was entirely lifted from an FBI transcript). Keenan Scott II's Thoughts of a Colored Man and Douglas Lyons's Chicken and Biscuits were also completely shut out of the Tonys this year, despite having design elements and performances that could have merited nomination. Both productions have been closed for months, however, and memories get fuzzy following the April rush of new show openings.
One play that is very much open but was completely snubbed is Noah Haidle's Birthday Candles, which I found touching. It seems the Tony nominators were not as moved, though: The show got nothing, not even for lead actress Debra Messing.
I was surprised that Lincoln Center Theater's monumental revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth did not receive a nomination for Best Revival of a Play, but it did receive six other nods, including for director Lileana Blain-Cruz, actor Gabby Beans, and set designer Adam Rigg (who built a three-story fun slide onstage). The fifth slot in the Best Revival category instead went to Neil Pepe's production of American Buffalo, which neither my colleague not I predicted, despite the production being very good. It's just another reminder that we in the New York theatre cannot ignore David Mamet, no matter how much we would like to.
The nominators were able to ignore Daniel Craig for his leading role in Shakespeare's Macbeth. That revival only received three nominations: Ruth Negga for her performance as Lady Mac, Jane Cox for lighting, and Mikaal Sulaiman for sound. Director Sam Gold was conspicuously (and rightfully) not nominated.
Sarah Jessica Parker is another bold name glaringly absent from the nominees list. While she gave a solid performance with some startlingly effective choices in the revival of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, and she is arguably in league with Hugh Jackman and Billy Crystal (both nominated) when it comes to luring audiences back to Broadway, the nominators were not impressed enough to throw her a nomination. Plaza Suite only got a single nod, for Jane Greenwood's retro costumes.
I know that there are a lot of Diana stans out there, and they might be disappointed to learn that the musical about the late Princess of Wales only received one nomination, for William Ivey Long's magnificent costumes. But really, becoming the next cult classic musical, available worldwide on Netflix, is a reward more valuable than ten Tonys.
Another show in the single-nom club is Mrs Doubtfire: Unsurprisingly, the one nomination went to Rob McClure, the hardest-working guy on Broadway, who plays the title role. If he wins, it will be well-deserved.
Personally, my money is on Jaquel Spivey, who is leading the cast of A Strange Loop (11 noms) in his Broadway debut. If he wins the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, he will beat Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackman, two of the biggest box office draws of this century — not bad for a first gig out of college.