BEST MUSICAL SUSPENSE: There were just seven new musicals on Broadway this season, the fewest in at least a decade. Only one received “Critic’s Pick” from the New York Times and generally great reviews: The Band’s Visit, about an Egyptian ensemble stranded in a sleepy Israeli town. It has a now-Tony-Award-nominated score by David Yazbeck that’s packed with prospective cabaret standards. As expected, it did well, collecting 11 nominations this morning. But a source of its integrity, the understated drama — its “zero razzle-dazzle,” as New York Magazine‘s Sara Holdren put it — could be a liability with road presenters, who represent a chunk of the roughly 840 Tony voters.
Mean Girls, less loved by critics, garnered 12 nominations, even for what David Rooney called its “workmanlike pastiche” score, by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin. The energetic (over-amplified) adaptation of Tina Fey’s 2004 movie is already a sellout and a popular title with teenagers and young adults. And that’s a coveted demographic, especially this season, given the ceremony’s young hosts, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, and last year’s wins for Dear Evan Hansen. That too was a high school musical, albeit one fresher and more layered.
The example of Evan Hansen could, in contrast, give comfort to Band’s Visit, which was directed by David Cromer. In recent years, smaller, original shows, such as Fun Home and Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, have carried the day. Another stat in favor of Band’s Visit: it has about 60 producers, many of them Tony voters. That’s about three times as many producers as on Mean Girls. A few backed both.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical got a lot of love with 12 nominations, but charming as it is, it may be too kid-oriented to be a contender. In 2017, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 likewise had 12 nominations but won just two Tonys, for lighting and scenic design. Frozen only got three nods, snubbed on all the acting and creative categories, except for book and score. The best musical nomination should help Disney sell the show until the awards on June 10, but it’s unlikely to win the big one.
LINCOLN CENTER THEATER’S RUN: Led by Andre Bishop, it’s on a roll. Should My Fair Lady win for best musical revival, it will be its seventh Tony for play, play revival or musical revival in eight years. It also got a nomination for the play Junk, which will be run over by the Harry Potter steamroller. The other two major Broadway nonprofits did respectably, with four nominations for the Roundabout for Travesties and three for Manhattan Theatre Club, for The Children and Condola Rashad in Saint Joan.
‘CREATIVE ARTS’ DOMINATION: Costume designer Ann Roth was nominated this year as many times as MTC — for Three Tall Women, Iceman Cometh and Carousel. She has won one Tony, for The Nance — produced in 2013 by Lincoln Center Theater. David Zinn was nominated twice, for both costume and scenic design for SpongeBob. And Scott Pask was recognized for set design of Band’s Visit and, with Finn Ross and Adam Young, for Mean Girls.
KATHERINE MCPHEE: She won’t be nominated for an Emmy for her pronunciations of “Oscar Hamersteen,” “Neil Benjamin” and “SpohngeBob.” But the Oscar’s Adele Dazeem imbroglio doesn’t seem to have hurt John Travolta or Idina Menzel. As it happens, Menzel begins performances in Joshua Harmon’s Skintight, presented off-Broadway by the Roundabout, on May 31.
Editor: Alice Scovell