68th Annual Tony Nominations Include First-Time Recognition of Bryan Cranston, Lena Hall, Neil Patrick Harris and More

By Carey Purcell
April 29, 2014

Playbill.com looks at the actors and actresses who recently received their first Tony Award nominations.



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Bryce Pinkham
The role of Monty Navarro has proven to be a killer part for Bryce Pinkham, who earned a Tony nomination for his performance as the disgruntled heir to the D'Ysquith fortune who stakes his claim to said fortune by knocking off the eight heirs who stand in his way. Pinkham, whose stage credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Ghost The Musical, murders fellow nominee Jefferson Mays eight times a show — while managing to indulge in a romance or two as well.

Andy Karl
Andy Karl's first Tony nomination was earned with sweat and blood … and experience. Karl has been treading the boards for years with stints in Wicked, Jersey Boys, The Wedding Singer, Legally Blonde and 9 to 5 under his belt, as well as 2013's Tony-nominated revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The title role in Rocky gave the leading man the opportunity to show off his acting and singing skills and his impressive physical strength. How many other actors can sing while doing chin-ups?

Mary Bridget Davies
Making her Broadway debut as the Queen of Rock in A Night with Janis Joplin, Mary Bridget Davies gave an uncannily accurate performance as the late rock singer known for her vocal strength. Davies, who previously portrayed Joplin in the national tour of Love, Janis, impressed audiences with her vocal stamina, performing Joplin's trademark hits like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Summertime" and "Mercedes Benz" six times a week.

Ramin Karimloo
Ramin Karimloo is no stranger to the stage; the West End actor played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera across the pond and starred in its short-lived sequel, Love Never Dies. The leading man, who has received no formal training as an actor, made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in the revival of Les Misérables. Impressing audiences with his impassioned performance as the former convict seeking redemption, Karimloo can now answer the question, "Who am I?" with "A Tony nominee."

Paul Chahidi 
Making his Broadway debut in Shakespeare's Globe's repertory productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III, Paul Chahidi earned a Tony nomination for his performance as Maria in Twelfth Night. The British actor, who received an Olivier Award nomination for the role in the West End, counts Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew among his stage credits.

Neil Patrick Harris
A multiple Emmy Award winner, Neil Patrick Harris earned his first Tony nomination for his performance in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Playing the "internationally ignored" East German transgender rock musician chasing after an ex-lover who plagiarized her songs, the "How I Met Your Mother" star returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in a decade, after performing in Stephen Sondheim's Assassins in 2004.

Bryan Cranston
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Sarah Greene
Giving a spirited performance as the fiery Helen McCormick in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Sarah Greene made a memorable Broadway debut as the love interest of Daniel Radcliffe who has a penchant for cracking eggs on her brother's head — and just about anything else around her. Greene's performance infused the role of a local tough girl with vulnerability and heart.

Bryan Cranston
Going from Walter White to Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bryan Cranston made a memorable Broadway debut starring in All The Way as the 36th President of the United States. Emmy winner and "Breaking Bad" star Cranston gave a magnetic performance as the tough-talking, rough-mannered President who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals, giving an impassioned personal edge to the historical drama.

Chris O'Dowd
Starring alongside James Franco in Of Mice and Men, Chris O'Dowd gave a heartfelt performance as Lenny, the good-hearted farm hand who dreams of "living off the fat of the land" but is doomed to a tragic ending. Dowd, who has appeard in the films "Gulliver's Travels," "Bridesmaids" and "This Is 40," earned a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson
Playing Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, LaTanya Richardson Jackson fought numerous onstage battles with formidable performers that include Anika Noni Rose, Sophie Okonedo and Denzel Washington. As the dignified matriarch of the Younger family, Jackson, who has performed on Broadway in Joe Turner's Come and Gone, compellingly portrayed Lena's determination to build a better life for her family while fighting the prejudices that they faced from society.

Brian J. Smith
Playing the young man who instills the Wingfield family with hope, and then heartbreak, Brian J. Smith's performance as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams' memory play, The Glass Menagerie, garnered him a Tony nomination. Smith has previously tread the boards in The Columnist and Come Back, Little Sheba, but The Glass Menagerie marks his first recognition from the Tonys.

James Monroe Iglehart
Giving a performance of unsurpassable energy and showmanship, James Monroe Iglehart's work as the Genie in Aladdin earned him his first Tony nomination. Iglehart, whose stage credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Memphis, brings a whirlwind of energy to the songs "A Friend Like" and "Prince Ali."

Lena Hall
photo by Joan Marcus

Lena Hall
Lena Hall underwent a radical transformation from her performance last season as the high-fashion Nicola in Kinky Boots to the downtrodden Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hall tread the boards in Cats, 42nd Street, Dracula the Musical and Tarzan before earning her first Tony nomination in John Cameron Mitchell's landmark rock musical.

Sophie Okonedo
Making her Broadway debut in A Raisin in the Sun, Sophie Okonedo was recognized with a Tony nomination for her performance as Ruth Younger. Playing Walter Lee's devoted wife, Okonedo brought strength and compassion to the role. The Academy Award nominee's acting credits include "Hotel Rwanda," Troilus and Cressida and Haunted Child.

Anika Larsen
Anika Larsen's beautiful performance as the feisty, career-driven Cynthia Weil, fellow songwriter and friend to Jessie Mueller's Carole King, in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, garnered the actress her first Tony nomination. After performing in Avenue Q, All Shook Up and Xanadu, Larsen's renditions of classic songs like "He's Still The Boy I Love" and "Walking in the Rain" earned her recognition from the nominators.

Lauren Worsham
Playing the pious Phoebe D’Ysquith, Lauren Worsham's luscious soprano and spot-on delivery of British humor earned the actress her first Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. Worsham has also performed in Turn of the Screw and Candide at New York City Opera, as well as the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.