2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations

By Kenneth Jones
and Andrew Gans
May 3, 2011

Tony winners Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose announced the nominations for the 65th Annual Tony Awards May 3 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center.



Two new musicals scored the most nominations of any productions of the season: The Book of Mormon, which received 14 nominations, and the already-closed The Scottsboro Boys, which earned 12 nominations.

Created by Book and Score nominees Matt Parker and Trey Stone ("South Park") and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), The Book of Mormon offers as unlikely a subject for a Broadway musical as there ever was: a couple of fresh-faced male missionaries who travel to AIDS-plagued, violence-ravaged Uganda to spread the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It contains profanity and references that break ground for a Broadway musical. It earned critical raves, and has been playing to 102 percent capacity (which includes standing-room) in recent weeks.

Two Carnegie Mellon grads working in The Book of Mormon did well: Rory O'Malley, who plays the repressed but tap-happy missionary Elder McKinley, was nominated in the Featured Actor category, and Josh Gad was nominated as Best Actor for playing loudmouth Elder Cunningham. Andrew Rannells (as Elder Price) was also nommed as Best Actor, and Nikki M. James (Nabulungi) was nommed as Best Featured Actress.
 

Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon in The Scottsboro Boys.
photo by Paul Kolnik

It was a good morning for The Scottsboro Boys, the musical about a grim chapter in American justice. The conceptual entertainment by librettist David Thompson, composer John Kander and the late Fred Ebb closed last fall after a brief run, but Tony nominators remembered the ambitious show that used a minstrel show as a frame to tell the tale of nine black boys wrongly jailed in the Depression-era South.

Shortly after Scottsboro closed, producers Fran and Barry Weissler said they were exploring bringing the musical back to Broadway this spring, but a return did not materialize. Joshua Henry, a relative newcomer to Broadway, was nominated as Best Actor for playing righteous Haywood Patterson, who refused to confess guilt for crimes that he didn't commit. In the Featured Actor category, Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon were nominated for playing multiple roles in the positions of classic side-men Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, respectively.

The Tonys had faith in the director-choreographer this year: Rob Ashford of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Kathleen Marshall of Anything Goes, Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker of The Book of Mormon and Susan Stroman of The Scottsboro Boys were all nominated for their Direction of a Musical. All but Mormon co-director Parker (who is not a choreographer) were nominated in the Choreography category for the same shows.

Joe Mantello in The Normal Heart.
photo by Joan Marcus

Joe Mantello, who had all but given up acting to pursue a career in directing (Wicked, 9 to 5, Take Me Out), returned to Broadway for what he called a longtime dream role — AIDS activist Ned Weeks in Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart. He was nominated as Best Actor in a Play. The revival production, its directors (Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe) and featured performers Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey were also nominated. This marks the play's Broadway debut after a launch Off-Broadway in the 1980s.

Tony Award winner Mark Rylance (Boeing-Boeing) was nominated as Best Actor in a Play for his larger-than-life turn as an aging daredevil squatting in what's left of rural England in Jerusalem. He has already won the Olivier Award for his turn. In the Tony race, he was potentially to be competing against himself for his work in La Bete earlier in the season, but he was not ultimately nominated for that comedy (though Joanna Lumley, who played a prickly princess, was — as Featured Actress in a Play).

War Horse, the acclaimed London play with puppets, music and a large cast, earned five Tony nominations for its Broadway production (recreated by its U.K. production team) at Lincoln Center Theater. Newly announced on May 3 was a Special Tony to the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa for creating lifelike horses (manipulated by three actor-puppeteers) in the drama about an English boy whose beloved horse is sold to the British cavalry in World War I.

Patina Miller in Sister Act.
photo by Joan Marcus

Patina Miller, who is making her Broadway debut as a nun on the run in Sister Act, nabbed a Best Actress in a Musical Tony nom after garnering a Best Actress Olivier Award nomination for starring in the London premiere of the disco-flavored musical last year. Miller's Tony-winning co-star Victoria Clark, who brings a solemn reverence to the role of Mother Superior, received her second Tony nomination (after The Light in the Piazza).

Director Daniel Sullivan, on double duty this season with the revival of Merchant of Venice and the new David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People, nabbed one directorial nomination for his work on the Shakespeare classic.

There were two notable cross-dressing actors among the Best Actor nominees: Australian actor Tony Sheldon for his elegant work as Bernadette, a transgendered performer in the musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Brian Bedford in the Victorian ruffles and lace of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, which he directed. The revival of the Oscar Wilde play (for Roundabout Theatre Company by way of an earlier Stratford Festival staging) is also nominated as Best Revival of a Play, and 80-year-old scenic and costume designer Desmond Heeley was nominated for his costumes — 43 years after he won Tonys for his sets and costumes for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

The 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award will go to Lookingglass Theatre Company, the ensemble-oriented Chicago company devoted to new works and creative approaches to classics.

Among the performers and productions that theatregoers may be surprised to see missing from the nominations are How to Succeed (and "Harry Potter") star Daniel Radcliffe, who made his Broadway musical debut as the nimble lead; Catch Me If You Can leading man Aaron Tveit, who, many say, carries his show on his shoulders; Hollywood heavyweights Robin Williams (Bengal Tiger), Chris Rock (Motherf**cker With the Hat), Kathleen Turner (High) and Jim Belushi (Born Yesterday); Lee Hall's critically-praised U.K. drama The Pitman Painters (with its original cast intact); as well as John Guare's A Free Man of Color, which was among the 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalists. James Earl Jones, the driver of Driving Miss Daisy, was not nominated.

Hannah Yelland in Brief Encounter.
photo by Joan Marcus

The new Frank Wildhorn musical Wonderland did not garner a single nod. Also left on the bench was the starry revival of Jason Miller's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama That Championship Season.

The Roundabout Theatre Company's engagement of Kneehigh Theatre's acclaimed British production of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter — a mix of song, dance, film, puppetry, melodrama and hyper-theatricality — earned just two nominations (Best Actress in a Play for its yearning leading lady, Hannah Yelland, and Best Sound, Simon Baker).

The jukebox musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert earned two nominations — for the Costume Design of Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, who have already won the Academy Award for their work, and Best Actor Tony Sheldon, who plays the matriarch role of transgendered performer Bernadette — but the show did not find a place in the Best Musical category.

The American Theatre Wing's 65th Annual Tony Awards will air on CBS June 12 at 8 PM ET live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. 

The awards, Broadway's highest honor, have been broadcast on CBS since 1978. This will be the first year that the show will be broadcast from The Beacon Theatre, which is part of the Madison Square Garden portfolio of venues. (As previously reported, Radio City Music Hall, the home of the Tony Awards for the past several years, is unavailable for this year's awards show.)

Broadway productions had to open by April 28 to be eligible for nomination in the 2010-2011 season.

The Tony Awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. For more information visit www.TonyAwards.com.

2011 TONY AWARD NOMINEES

Best Play

Good People Author: David Lindsay-Abaire  
Jerusalem Author: Jez Butterworth
The Motherf**ker with the Hat Author: Stephen Adly Guirgis
War Horse Author: Nick Stafford

Best Musical

The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can 
The Scottsboro Boys 
Sister Act

Best Book of a Musical

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Alex Timbers

The Book of Mormon Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone

The Scottsboro Boys David Thompson

Sister Act Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

The Book of Mormon
Music & Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone

The Scottsboro Boys
Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb

Sister Act
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek

Best Revival of a Play

Arcadia

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Merchant of Venice

The Normal Heart

Best Revival of a Musical

Anything Goes

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
Billy Crudup, Arcadia
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Adam Godley, Anything Goes
John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Rae Smith, War Horse
Ultz, Jerusalem
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
Derek McLane, Anything Goes
Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice
Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest
Mark Thompson, La Bête
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
Christopher Shutt, War Horse

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice

Best Direction of a Musical
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can

*     *     *

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Athol Fugard
Philip J. Smith

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Eve Ensler

Special Tony Award
Handspring Puppet Company


Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
William Berloni
The Drama Book Shop
Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts

*     *     *

Tony Nominations by Production
The Book of Mormon - 14
The Scottsboro Boys - 12
Anything Goes - 9
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - 8
The Merchant of Venice - 7
Jerusalem - 6
The Motherf**ker with the Hat - 6
The Normal Heart - 5
Sister Act - 5
War Horse - 5
Catch Me If You Can - 4
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo - 3
The Importance of Being Earnest - 3
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - 3
Arcadia - 2
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson - 2
Born Yesterday - 2
Brief Encounter - 2
Good People - 2
La Bête - 2
Priscilla Queen of the Desert - 2
Baby It's You! - 1
Driving Miss Daisy - 1
The House of Blue Leaves - 1
Lombardi - 1
The People in the Picture - 1

 

The American Theatre Wing's 65th Annual Tony Awards will air on CBS June 12 at 8 PM ET live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. 

The Tony Awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League.

For more information visit www.TonyAwards.com.

View highlights from War Horse: