×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Loves Big Names, But Does Tony?

Great White Way loves high-profile thesps. Do the Tony nominators?

If Hollywood pundits think the producers of the Academy Awards have a tough job putting on a good TV show, consider the plight of those in charge of the Tony telecast. They have to deal with the Tony nominating committee, a group of legit professionals who have a habit of not always citing those star thesps well-known to a TV audience.

And this Broadway season there are a lot of thesps with TV and film pedigree for the committee to snub. Let’s start with the Broadway debs: Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy,” Cuba Gooding Jr. in Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” and Jessica Chastain in “Ruth” and Augustus Goetz’s “The Heiress.” There also are the Broadway returns of Alec Baldwin in Lyle Kessler’s “Orphans“; Bette Midler in John Logan’s “I’ll Eat You Last“; Scarlett Johansson and Ciaran Hinds in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof“; Paul Rudd and Ed Asner in Craig Wright’s “Grace”; Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike“;, Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams in “The Trip to Bountiful“; Laurie Metcalf in Sharr White’s “The Other Place“; Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale in David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross“; and Cannavale again in Clifford Odets’ “The Big Knife“. Not to be forgotten is Nathan Lane, who having won a Tony a dozen years ago for his legendary turn in “The Producers,” has been ignored by the nominating committee for his past seven — count ’em, seven — perfs on Broadway. Will Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Nance” bring him back to Tony glory?

Yes, the Tony nominating committee isn’t always helpful to producers trying to put on a star-packed TV show. For example, last year they chose not to nom Ricky Martin, Daniel Radcliffe or Matthew Broderick for their respective turns in “Evita,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” The difference with Martin, Radcliffe and Broderick not being nommed is that the Tonys ingeniously worked them into the telecast by having them perform songs. This season, the stars listed above all perform in non-tuners. If not nommed, will Hanks, Midler, Chastain, Baldwin, Rudd et al actually grace the Radio City Music Hall stage on June 9 to read a few lines from their respective plays? Or just present somebody else a trophy? Or will they stay home?

The top original musicals in 2012-13 — those few that are still running — have eschewed stars onstage. Not that there isn’t high-profile talent involved. Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein wrote “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda” is adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel and “Motown” is all about Berry Gordy, who wrote the book and co-produces.

If the Tony nominating committee does bless a few star performers, those actors, ironically, often have the best shot at winning. Tony voters, unlike the committee, are a decidedly starstruck group of professional creatives, producers, presenters and journos. Only three years ago they gave legit’s top prize to seven stars, four of whom happened to be Broadway debs: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (“Fences”), Catherine Zeta-Jones (“A Little Night Music”), Eddie Redmayne (“Red”), Ellen Barkin (“The Normal Heart”) and Johansson (“A View From the Bridge”).

It could happen again. But maybe not.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content