It’s Tony Time!

The Tony Award Nominations are out and Freya Grant, Live From New York, takes us through this year’s nominations – from the snubs to the success stories!

Kristin Chenowith and Jim Parsons host the Tony Award Nomination Ceremony 2012
Kristin Chenowith and Jim Parsons host the Tony Award Nomination Ceremony 2012

If the blooms are out in Central Park, then it’s sure to mean that Broadway is in a frenzy, scrambling to open as many productions as possible to beat the deadline to be in contention for a Tony Award.

The sweet smell of spring is rarely soothing to a Broadway producer whose calendar and checkbook is filled with the tasks of opening a show.

The May 1 announcement of the sought-after Tony nominations means that shows must have opened by April 26th to be eligible for consideration by the judges.

And more importantly for producers, a spot as a nominee on the theatre’s biggest stage is critical as the nationally-screened Tonys equal commercial success and unparalleled awareness.

It’s no mean feat to mount a show on Broadway, with an estimated 75 per cent of productions never making money back for their producers.

Tonys can change things, among both regular theatergoers (some who are insistent on making sure they have seen all nominees) as well as international visitors who are familiar with the revered name of a Tony’s win.

This year’s Tony nominees were announced at the unseemly and un-Broadway time of 8.30am NY time, delivered by musical royalty Kristin Chenoweth and The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons (who will return to Broadway himself later in the year in Harvey) at New York’s Lincoln Center.

Once scored 11 Nominations for the 2012 Tony Awards

It was the beautiful and soaring movie-turned-musical Once which led the pack, garnering 11 Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Actor (Steve Kazee) and Best Actress (Cristin Milioti) in a Leading Role as well as Best Director (John Tiffany). It was then The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It which each grabbed ten nods.

Last year’s mildly controversial snubbing of celebrities on Broadway such as Daniel Radcliffe, Keifer Sutherland and Ben Stiller was not repeated this year with the Best Actor in a Play category reading like a veritable who’s who of amazing acting.

James Corden (One Man, Two Guvnors), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman), James Earl Jones (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man), Frank Langella (Man and Boy) and John Lithgow (The Columnist) will make this category a powerhouse moment during the broadcast.

There were still some snubs though (as all good dramatic presentations should have). Most notably, Ricky Martin was overlooked for his role in Evita; Matthew Broderick, usually beloved by Tony Award judges, missed out for Nice Work if You Can Get It (although his co-star Kelli O’Hara was nominated) and Broadway’s controversial take on Spiderman only managed to be recognized in two categories: Best Scenic Design and Costume.

The 2012 Tonys will be held on Sunday June 20th, hosted for the third time by the beloved Neil Patrick Harris.

And so critics, theatergoers and Broadway insiders have endured a month of April packed with activity – one week toward the end of the month, seven shows opened with a further three the week before.

Rushing to the finish line isn’t always in the best interests of a show. The last musical to open in this year’s official Broadway season was Leap of Faith, starring four-time Tony Award nominee Raul Esparza. Universally panned by all the leading critics, the New York Times’ influential critic Ben Brantley said of the show: “We’ve finally come to the end of a hard-run, overcrowded spring on Broadway. And here, to sound the final trumpet, is one last musical, a show that appropriately expresses how many a dedicated theatregoer must be feeling right now: plumb tuckered out.”

However for the show’s investors, the rush paid off with the production grabbing a Best Musical nomination but that was all they could muster.

Equally, being overlooked can be the final signal for shows that the curtain is falling on their productions. For the producers of Godspell, Seminar and Magic/Bird, the lack of recognition could mean they won’t last the American summer.

Tony Awards 2011. Image by Stephen Lovekin
Tony Awards 2011. Image by Stephen Lovekin

Scheduling dictates that the Tony’s broadcast that it be held in June even though a December deadline would be more beneficial for the industry as a whole. But CBS, the network which airs the Tonys, would never allow the lowly-rated awards ceremony to participate in the hotly contested February sweeps, a time when SuperBowl’s reign and network premieres are giving television executives plenty of sleepless nights.

The frenzy will dry up now though as the nominations have been delivered, the urgency moves away and the focus drifts to trying to get to each of the nominated shows.

Our own Hugh Jackman, beloved by it seems all, will receive a Special Tony Award for his contributions to the Broadway community and to Actors’ Equity Association.

For the complete list of nominees:


  • During the frenzy of new shows opening on Broadway in April, The Lion King quietly surpassed The Phantom of the Opera as the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time.
  • Hollywood heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal will make his New York stage debut in the off-Broadway play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet later this year. The production, produced by the Rondabout Theatre Company and directed by Michael Longhurst, is scheduled to open on September 20. Other hot people who should come to New York’s stages soon include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling. Just saying.
  • The musical adaption of will begin its West End run from November 6th, starring Llyod Owen and Heather Hadley.

Freya Grant

Freya Grant is a New York-based marketing and events manager, working with clients including the New York Yankees, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Alzheimer's Association. A former journalist for Sydney's The Daily Telegraph, Freya has also worked at the Sydney Opera House and Kings' Cross charity, The Wayside Chapel. Since moving to New York in 2009, Freya has been fascinated by the marketing and branding trends of Broadway's roster of shows.

Freya Grant

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