In fact, every actress who has played the demanding role on Broadway has received a nomination. Ethel Merman created the part of the infamous stage mother in the original 1959 production of the Arthur Laurents-Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical, which produced such classic tunes as “Small World,” “Some People” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Merman, however, failed to nab the Tony, losing to Mary Martin for her performance as Maria in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. Subsequent Roses were luckier. Both Angela Lansbury (1974 production) and Tyne Daly (1989 mounting) won Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical. Interestingly, Lansbury vied for her award opposite Bernadette Peters, who was nominated that season for her work in the short-lived Jerry Herman musical Mack and Mabel. That year’s competition also included nominees Lola Falana (Doctor Jazz) and Ann Reinking (Goodtime Charley).
Those competing against two-time Tony Award winner Peters this year include Melissa Errico (Amour), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Man of La Mancha), Elizabeth Parkinson (Movin’ Out) and Marissa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray). Peters won her previous Tonys for her work in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song & Dance and the recent revival of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun.