NEW YORK — Given the critical raves and phenomenal business drummed up by “The Producers,” the talk of the town is not so much its record 15 Tony nominations but how many of them will actually translate into medallions come awards night June 3.
As Tony sweeps go, the “The Producers'” tally beats by one the previous record holder, “Company,” a mark that has stood for 30 years. The 1971 Stephen Sondheim tuner went on to win best musical, along with six other awards, and if “Producers” doesn’t replicate that success, it will be the biggest jaw-dropper since Monica Lewinsky last toured the White House.
But quantity doesn’t always guarantee success in the musical category, Broadway’s big-ticket draw and arguably the equivalent of Oscar’s picture laurel. In fact, when it comes to double-digit nominations, the number 13 can be unlucky: “Ragtime,” “Crazy for You” and “Dreamgirls” all nabbed 13 but lost out in the best musical category to, respectively, “The Lion King” (11 noms), “Les Miserables” (12 noms) and “Nine” (12 noms).
The exception came in 1960, when “The Sound of Music” socked away 13 nominations but had to share its musical Tony with 10-time nominee “Fiorello!,” the only tie for top tuner. The 1960 contest may be better, if not more notoriously, remembered for having excluded the seminal “Gypsy” in the categories of author (musical) and composer.
A dozen nominations were lucky for “My Fair Lady,” “A Little Night Music” and “A Chorus Line,” but not for “Grand Hotel,” which lost the best musical award to “City of Angels,” with 11 noms, and “The Life,” which saw “Titanic” become top tuner in spite of competing in just five races, winning all of them.
This year, “The Full Monty” goes into the contest with 10 noms. Not to diminish that feat, musicals with 10 or 11 are fairly commonplace, with well over a dozen examples from the near and distant past.