With a whopping 14 shows yet to open before the end of Broadway’s 2014-15 season, there’s still plenty of time left for surprises in the upcoming race for the Tony Awards. But a couple of things, at least, seem certain.
For one thing, the season’s plays have had casts so starry that the Tonys could start to look like the Oscars. For another, the new musical that everyone’s been talking about this spring will not be
That’s because “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s follow-up to Tony winner “In the Heights,” won’t transfer from Off Broadway to Broadway until July — well after the April 23 eligibility cutoff forthe Tonys.
“Hamilton,” a hip-hop bio of Alexander Hamilton, built up some jawdropping industry buzz well before its premiere earlier this year, and subsequent critical raves and big-deal coverage in the New Yorker and the New York Times cemented the show’s status as the hot ticket of the spring.
The show’s producers and creatives toyed with the idea of rushing the hit onto Broadway this season, but ultimately opted to open the show this summer, allowing Miranda and company time to hone the final product.
But even with the delay, the musical can’t quite be counted out of the 2015 Tonys: Some industry types worry the buzz for “Hamilton” will dampen the hype around this year’s Tony race.
It’s certainly true that so far, this year’s Tony category for new musical — widely acknowledged as the most influential trophy at the box office — doesn’t yet include any shows that have united both critics and audiences in a wave of enthusiasm. “Honeymoon in Vegas” won over a lot of critics when it opened in January, but still hasn’t caught on at the box office, and Sting musical “The Last Ship,” which earned respectful if mixed reviews, proved short-lived. (The musical revival race is in the same boat, with “Side Show” closing quickly and the admired “On the Town” struggling for sales. However, “On the 20th Century” just opened to promising reviews.)
But there’s potential on the horizon. We already know, for instance, that critics go gaga for Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel “Fun Home” — they did it once already, swooning over the show last season in its Off Broadway premiere at the Public. Meanwhile, the gleefully anachronistic Renaissance comedy “Something Rotten!” has gained some good word-of-mouth in the industry, and everybody has a long-abiding affection for Chita Rivera, returning to Broadway in “The Visit.”
Epic Russian romance “Doctor Zhivago” hasn’t yet attracted much attention — but the real wildcard this spring is “Finding Neverland.” With Harvey Weinstein and his awards-season muscle behind it, how strong can he make the musical’s Tony push?
Among upcoming musical revivals, “Gigi” aims for a cross-generational sweet spot with youthful star Vanessa Hudgens. However, to judge from industry anticipation, the unarguable main event is “The King and I,” the iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein title that, if it works, could become a longrunner for Lincoln Center Theater along the lines of “South Pacific.” Theater-world denizens are already buzzing that this could finally be the year for Kelli O’Hara (who co-stars with Ken Watanabe), the Broadway favorite with five nominations but no wins under her belt.
But of course, the contest for lead musical actress is still wide open. Ditto the play competitions.
Pundits have begun to point toward Helen Mirren (“The Audience”) and Alex Sharp (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) as likely front-runners in their respective races, but there are plenty of other viable contenders.
Bill Nighy (“Skylight”), Bradley Cooper (“The Elephant Man”), Hugh Jackman (“The River”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Constellations”) are also in the mix, as are actresses like Ruth Wilson (“Constellations”), Glenn Close (“A Delicate Balance”), Carey Mulligan (“Skylight”) and Elisabeth Moss (“The Heidi Chronicles”). And that’s leaving off the less famous names likely to turn heads, such as Stephen Boyer (“Hand to God”) and Ben Miles (“Wolf Hall”).
With all those racehorses still waiting to get out of the gate, Broadway’s award contests still have some shaping up to do. But once the Tony nominations are announced April 28, then it will be off to the races.