The 2018 Tony Awards, set to air live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS this Sunday night (June 10), will mark the 72nd time Broadway insiders have gathered to honor the best of the season with this most high-profile of prizes.
This year’s ceremony will be hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, who both rose to fame as pop stars before finding success with Tony-nominated musicals — Groban as leading man in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and Bareilles as composer/lyricist and star of Waitress. The awards handed out will reflect a season that brought an array of multifaceted artists — from Bruce Springsteen being recognized with a special Tony for his smash engagement Springsteen on Broadway, to Dame Diana Rigg and CBE Glenda Jackson, both nominees for performances that ended lengthy sabbaticals from the New York stage.
New musicals and plays drawing on contemporary pop culture phenomena, such as Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants — each up for a dozen awards — and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which earned 10 nominations, are competing along with revivals of American classics, such as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (11 nods), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (11), Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady (10, with one for Rigg), Eugene O’Neill’s The Icemen Cometh (eight), Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (six, with one for Jackson), and a revelatory take on Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’s Once on This Island (eight).
As usual, artists and productions from across the pond are in contention. The U.K.-based Angels and Harry Potter boast nominees that include returning stars, such as Andrew Garfield and acclaimed directors Marianne Elliott and John Tiffany, as well as celebrated British actors making Broadway debuts. And Best Play candidates are Farinelli and the King (by Claire van Kampen, starring her husband, Mark Rylance, up for his fourth Tony) and The Children (by Lucy Kirkwood).
Other contenders for Best Play include Pulitzer Prize–winning Pakistani American playwright Ayad Akhtar’s Junk and special Tony recipient John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons. The Band’s Visit, an Off-Broadway transfer (like Latin History) set in the Middle East, garnered some of the season’s most ecstatic reviews and collected 11 nominations, including Best Musical. (Disney’s Frozen rounds out the nominees in that latter category.)
Diversity is also evident in the acting, directing, and design categories, both in terms of race and ethnicity and in levels of experience and exposure. Previous winners and noted names among the contenders include, in addition to those already mentioned: Laurie Metcalf (last year’s winner for actress in a leading role in a play, this year up for featured role for Three Tall Women); Nathan Lane (Angels); Denzel Washington (The Iceman Cometh); Jessie Mueller (Carousel); Norbert Leo Butz (My Fair Lady); and LaChanze (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical); directors Bartlett Sher (My Fair Lady), George C. Wolfe (Iceman), Joe Mantello (Three Tall Women), and Casey Nicholaw (Mean Girls); and designers Ann Roth (a triple nominee for her costumes for Three Tall Women, Iceman, and Carousel), Scott Pask (scenic design for The Band’s Visit and, with Finn Ross and Adam Young, Mean Girls), Santo Loquasto (scenic design, Iceman), Michael Yeargan (scenic design, My Fair Lady), and Catherine Zuber (costumes, My Fair Lady).
Nicholaw is a double nominee as well, with a nod for choreography (for Mean Girls) as well as direction, as is fellow choreographer Christopher Gattelli, acknowledged for both My Fair Lady and SpongeBob. Nominees for choreography also include Stephen Hoggett — for a play, Harry Potter — and ballet wunderkind Justin Peck, picking up his first Tony nomination for Carousel.
Other first-time nominees include celebrated names, such as opera star Renée Fleming (Carousel), director Tina Landau (SpongeBob), and comedy icons Tina Fey (for her book for Mean Girls, adapted from her screenplay) and Amy Schumer (for her performance in Steve Martin’s play Meteor Shower). Stars whose faces and gifts have grown increasingly familiar to theater fans in recent years also received their first nods: The Band’s Visit’s Katrina Lenk, Carousel’s Lindsay Mendez, and Mean Girls’ Taylor Louderman and Ashley Park, to name a few.
Special Tonys for lifetime achievement will be presented to Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Stage and screen stars expected to appear at the Tony Awards include Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells — all currently featured in Mantello’s revival of The Boys in the Band, which won’t be eligible until next year — as well as Uzo Aduba, Claire Danes, Tatiana Maslany, and Leslie Odom Jr. More presenters, and of course performances, will be announced as the big night approaches, so stay tuned — and get your scorecard ready.