In a busy Broadway season that encompassed a slew of well-received productions but no clear juggernaut, there was an anything-goes element to prognosticating the nominations for the 2015 Tony Awards. Still, every awards maven had expectations, and, as happens every year, plenty of deserving work didn’t make the cut. Here are the biggest snubs and surprises that have gotten Tony-watchers talking.
SURPRISE: “An American in Paris”
After the show opened (less than three weeks ago), everyone had come to anticipate that “An American in Paris” would do well with nominators. But the musical, which tied with “Fun Home” as this year’s most-nominated title, must be acknowledged as the surprise of the season. Going into the spring, no one knew enough about the production to expect much. Sure, it had earned good reviews in a Paris tryout, but shows that do well overseas don’t always translate to Broadway successes (see: “Rocky”). It also had to wade into a crowded season where it risked getting confused with another dance-heavy show, the modestly selling “On the Town,” or with that other musical prominently set in Paris, “Gigi.” But reviews and strong sales helped make Broadway, and the Tony nominators, sit up and pay attention.
SNUB: “Finding Neverland”
Conspicuously absent from the nominations list is “Finding Neverland,” which didn’t get a single nod despite a high-profile creative team and lead producer, and a strong start at the box office. Broadway favorites including Tony-winning director Diane Paulus (“Pippin”), actor Matthew Morrison (a stage talent before he found TV fame on “Glee”) and Kelsey Grammer (a TV actor who’s earned Broadway respect with a Tony-nominated turn in “La Cage aux Folles”) were all overlooked, and the production overall was left out of the race for best new musical, the only Tony award that consistently has the power to boost sales.
The omission is an upset for Harvey Weinstein, who makes his debut as a lead producer on the show. The production earned mixed reviews in a season jammed with worthy work. Regardless, “Neverland” seems to be proving popular with audiences, to judge from its weekly box office reports, leading producers to think the play can succeed even without the stamp of Tony approval.
“With 27 nominations today for ‘Fun Home,’ ‘Elephant Man,’ ‘The Audience’ and ‘Wolf Hall,’ shows that we either co-invested or co-produced, we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Weinstein. “As for ‘Finding Neverland,’ our passion for it remains unwavering. I could not be more proud of the magic created on our stage by Diane Paulus and the entire ‘Neverland’ team night after night, which has made this show a smash hit.”
SNUB: Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman
Gyllenhaal, who missed an Oscar nomination for his work in “Nightcrawler” earlier this year, was left out of this year’s Tony race too. He earned strong reviews for his time-fractured pas de deux with Ruth Wilson in “Constellations,” but while Wilson scored a nod, he didn’t.
Jackman, meanwhile, has been a Broadway favorite, not only at the box office but with the New York theater industry at large, since his Tony-winning turn in “The Boy From Oz.” But in a crowded field of leading play actors, his work in “The River” earlier this season couldn’t secure a spot in the category.
SNUB: “Constellations,” “The Audience” and other new play contenders
Anyone arguing that new plays are dead on Broadway should take another look: A dozen of them opened this season alone. Among the shows left off the nominations list were “Constellations,” Nick Payne’s well-reviewed mindbender; “The Audience,” a return to the queen of England for writer Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon”); and “The River,” Jez Butterworth’s Broadway follow-up to “Jerusalem.”
Some see a bias against British imports in the nominees list, and it’s certainly true that the Tonys like to reward homegrown talent. Two spots on the play list this year went to “Hand to God” and Pulitzer winner “Disgraced,” both by American writers. To be fair, though, “Airline Highway,” the play by American Lisa D’Amour that earned four noms, also didn’t claim a spot in the new play race.
SURPRISE: Geneva Carr and Micah Stock
Who? Exactly. These two actors each stood out in a sea of famous faces. Carr, playing a mother pushed to her comical breaking point by a satanic handpuppet in “Hand to God,” finds herself competing for lead actress in a play with well-known heavyhitters Helen Mirren (“The Audience,” in which she revisits the role that won her an Oscar), Carey Mulligan (“Skylight”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Heidi Chronicles”) and Wilson (“Constellations”). Stock, meanwhile, is the sole nominee from “It’s Only a Play,” the backstage Broadway comedy that, in its original cast, was so starry (Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, Rupert Grint) that there was only one guy in it you’d never heard of. He’s that guy.
SNUB: “Side Show”
This revival of a cult Broadway musical — which proved as short-lived as its original incarnation — earned plenty of admirers for the significant revisions made to the show by a creative team led by Bill Condon. Audiences, however, didn’t take the bait — and neither did Tony nominators.
SNUB: “Honeymoon in Vegas”
For a while there, observers thought “Honeymoon” might turn out to be a popular hit for composer Jason Robert Brown, whose ambitious, challenging work has included “Parade” and “The Bridges of Madison County.” (He won Tonys for both.) “Honeymoon” earned unexpected raves in its premiere just across the river at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, and garnered strong reviews here in New York too. But ticket buyers didn’t go for it, and the field was too crowded for Tony nominators to find a place for the show on the list.