The nominations for the 2019 Tony Awards were announced April 30 — and leave it to the nominators to upend everyone’s expectations and best-laid plans. Here are the nine biggest snubs and surprises.
SNUB: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
This one came early in the Tony nominations announcement, and it was a doozy. The hit adaptation of one of America’s most beloved novels is one of the strongest selling entries of the season, and it seemed a surefire contender in top categories. But while “To Kill a Mockingbird” did plenty well with a total of nine nominations (including one for star Jeff Daniels), Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway return didn’t make the cut for the biggest prize for new play. Chalk it up to an unusually crowded slate that gave “Mockingbird” a lot of competition, and to nominators who took things in a direction no one expected them to.
SURPRISE: “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus”
That new-play nomination that everyone thought would go to “Mockingbird”? It went to “Gary,” the brash, bloody, smarter-than-it-looks Broadway debut from award-winning downtown experimentalist Taylor Mac. The show mostly baffled critics, but nominators rewarded it with a total of seven nods (including acting noms for Kristine Nielsen and Julie White). Not bad for a play that most of Broadway seemed to believe nobody likes.
SNUB: Glenda Jackson in “King Lear”
Jackson is acting royalty, and just last season she took home a Tony Award for “Three Tall Women,” her Broadway return after 30 years. This season she’s playing the title character in “King Lear,” which is the kind of massive role that cries out for awards recognition. But this production of “Lear” was widely disliked by critics and industry types, and mostly ignored by nominators, leaving Jackson out of the competition for lead actress in a play. (In the end, “Lear” earned only one nod, for Ruth Wilson in the featured actress race.)
Broadway’s musical adaptation of the iconic Tim Burton comedy got a mixed bag of reviews — including a high-profile, dismissive pan in the New York Times — and some in the industry thought nominators would ignore it, too. They didn’t: “Beetlejuice” scored a nod for best musical, the night’s biggest prize, among a total of eight noms overall.
SNUB: Some of this season’s biggest stars
Sure, there are plenty of big-name actors among this year’s pool of nominees: Annette Bening, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, Adam Driver, Elaine May, Laurie Metcalf. But that still left other notables out in the cold, including the aforementioned Jackson (“King Lear”) as well as John Lithgow (“Hillary and Clinton”), Jonny Lee Miller (“Ink”), Keri Russell (“Burn This”), Kerry Washington (“American Son”) and Tony favorite Nathan Lane (“Gary”), the only member of his three-person cast not to make the cut.
SURPRISE: Janet McTeer in “Bernhardt/Hamlet”
McTeer always grabs attention when she shows up on Broadway, where she won a Tony for “A Doll’s House” in 1997. Still, few thought nominators would remember her muscular performance as Sarah Bernhardt in “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” which came and went in the fall after earning mixed reviews. But with a category expanded to six nominees, they found a spot for her.
This cleverly staged adaptation of the 1976 movie seemed like a good bet for a best play nomination, thanks to its unexpectedly timely take on the news business and a stellar lead performance by Bryan Cranston (who scored an acting nom). The show got a total of five nods, but in a competitive season, it was nudged off the list for best play.
SURPRISE: Jeremy Pope
It’s been a breakout season (and his first on Broadway) for Pope, and a nomination seemed likely. He didn’t get one, though — he surprised awards watchers by racking up two: one for lead actor in a play in “Choir Boy,” and another for featured actor in Temptations bio “Ain’t Too Proud.”
SNUB: “Be More Chill”
This musical comedy — about high school, fitting in and an ingestible microcomputer that makes you cool — has a legion of young fans, thanks to the score’s viral popularity online. The show has yet to win over the theater-snob demo, though, so its partisans were hoping to score an attention-getting spot in the race for best musical. No luck on that front, although nominators did give a nod to fan-fave composer Joe Iconis for his score.
The 73rd Annual Tony Awards, hosted by James Corden, will be broadcast live from Radio City Musical Hall June 9 on CBS.