Shortly after the news broke that “Hamilton” had landed 16 Tony Award nominations, the musical’s director, Thomas Kail, sent a text to choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and others on the show’s creative team. “I just woke up. What happened?” Kail asked facetiously.
What happened, as it turned out, was one for the Broadway record books.
“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about America’s founding fathers, wrote its own piece of history Tuesday morning. After selling out theaters and becoming a cultural sensation since it opened on Broadway last summer, the show has now broken the record of 15 Tony nominations previously held by “The Producers” (2001) and “Billy Elliot” (2009).
In the top category of best musical, “Hamilton” will compete, nominally, against Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock,” the small-town charmer “Waitress,” the Appalachian bluegrass piece “Bright Star” and the race-themed meta-tale “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”
But those other shows may consider it an honor just to be nominated. “Hamilton” is considered by nearly all experts to be a shoo-in to win for best musical, and it will aim for the record of 12 Tony wins (set by “The Producers”) when theater’s biggest night kicks off June 12 on CBS from New York’s Beacon Theatre.
“Hamilton” was boosted by multiple nominations in acting categories, including lead actor (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr., the latter a front-runner) and featured actor (Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff). “Hamilton” also will compete for score, choreography and direction of a musical, among others.
The nominations continue a magic-carpet ride that began with a Miranda performance of a “Hamilton Mixtape” at the White House in 2009, continued with an august run at downtown’s Public Theater in early 2015 and then a building juggernaut after opening at the Richard Rodgers in the summer.
The record set Tuesday is an industry capper of sorts on what had become the most unlikely of phenomena: a Broadway musical, often regarded as the narrowest of cultural niches, becoming a crossover hit and a gateway to a larger discussion about history and race.
“Someone asked me today if this is all old hat,” the newly minted Tony nominee Blankenbuehler recalled from the North Carolina set of “Dirty Dancing,” where, in part thanks to the success of “Hamilton” he is choreographing the new ABC reboot. “And I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’m still like a kid in a candy store.’ We all are.”
Miranda, at 36 already one of the theater world’s most influential creators, offered his own valedictory, noting in a statement that “for ‘Hamilton’ to receive a record-breaking number of nominations is an honor so humbling it’s so far been beyond my comprehension.”
The new Broadway production of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” featuring Emmy-winning stage and screen star Cicely Tyson, has extended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The production, which officially opened April 23, had been scheduled for a 14-week limited engagement through July 7. It has now extended an additional eight weeks and will continue through Sept. 1. “Bountiful” was recently nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Play (Tyson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Condola Rashad), Best Sound Design for a Play (John Gromada) and Best Revival of a Play.
The cast also includes Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” “Red Tails”), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives”), Rashad (Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias,” Broadway’s Stick Fly), Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner. Michael Wilson directs.
Cicely Tyson’s return to Broadway indeed proved “Bountiful,” as she is among the contenders for best actress in a play for her starring role in “The Trip to Bountiful.’’ The others in Tyson’s category are Laurie Metcalf for “The Other Place,’’ Amy Morton for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,’’ Kristine Nielsen for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,’’ and Holland Taylor for “Ann.’’
The revival of “Pippin” “Motown: The Musical” each garnered several awards, among them nominations for their respective lead actresses, Patina Miller and Valisia LeKae. Courtney B. Vance also garnered a nomination for his supporting role in “Lucky Guy,” as did Tyson’s “Bountiful” co-star Condola Rashad for hers.
The full list of nominees is below:
Best play “The Assembled Parties” by Richard Greenberg “Lucky Guy” by Nora Ephron “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang
Best musical “Bring It On, The Musical” “A Christmas Story, The Musical” “Kinky Boots, The Musical” “Matilda, The Musical”
Best book of a musical “A Christmas Story, The Musical” Joseph Robinette “Kinky Boots” Harvey Fierstein “Matilda, The Musical” Dennis Kelly Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Douglas Carter Beane
Best revival of a play “Golden Boy” Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Bernard Gersten “Orphans” “The Trip to Bountiful” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Best revival of a musical “Annie” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” “Pippin” “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theatre “A Christmas Story, The Musical” Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul “Hands on a Hardbody” Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green Lyrics: Amanda Green “Kinky Boots” Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper “Matilda, The Musical” Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play Tom Hanks, “Lucky Guy” Nathan Lane, “The Nance” Tracy Letts, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” David Hyde Pierce, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Tom Sturridge, “Orphans”
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play Laurie Metcalf, “The Other Place” Amy Morton, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Kristine Nielsen, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Holland Taylor, “Ann” Cicely Tyson, “The Trip to Bountiful”
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical Bertie Carvel, “Matilda, The Musical” Santino Fontana, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Rob McClure, “Chaplin” Billy Porter, “Kinky Boots” Stark Sands, “Kinky Boots”
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical Stephanie J. Block, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Carolee Carmello, “Scandalous” Valisia LeKae, “Motown, The Musical” Patina Miller, “Pippin” Laura Osnes, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play Danny Burstein, “Golden Boy” Richard Kind, “The Big Knife” Billy Magnussen, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Tony Shalhoub, “Golden Boy” Courtney B. Vance, “Lucky Guy”
Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play Carrie Coon, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Shalita Grant, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Judith Ivey, “The Heiress” Judith Light, “The Assembled Parties” Condola Rashad, “The Trip to Bountiful”
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical Charl Brown, “Motown, The Musical” Keith Carradine, “Hands on a Hardbody” Will Chase, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Gabriel Ebert, “Matilda, The Musical” Terrence Mann, “Pippin” Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical Annaleigh Ashford, “Kinky Boots” Victoria Clark, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Andrea Martin, “Pippin” Keala Settle, “Hands on a Hardbody” Lauren Ward, “Matilda, The Musical”
Best scenic design of a play John Lee Beatty, “The Nance” Santo Loquasto, “The Assembled Parties” David Rockwell, “Lucky Guy” Michael Yeargan, “Golden Boy”
Best sound design of a musical Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, “Pippin” Peter Hylenski, “Motown, The Musical” John Shivers, “Kinky Boots” Nevin Steinberg, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best direction of a play Pam MacKinnon, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Nicholas Martin, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Bartlett Sher, “Golden Boy” George C. Wolfe, “Lucky Guy”
Best direction of a musical Scott Ellis, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Jerry Mitchell, “Kinky Boots” Diane Paulus, “Pippin” Matthew Warchus, “Matilda, The Musical”
Best choreography Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bring It On: The Musical” Peter Darling, “Matilda, The Musical” Jerry Mitchell, “Kinky Boots” Chet Walker, “Pippin”
Best orchestrations Chris Nightingale, “Matilda, The Musical” Stephen Oremus, “Kinky Boots” Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, “Motown, The Musical” Danny Troob, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Recipients of awards and honors in non-competitive categories Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Bernard Gersten Paul Libin Ming Cho Lee
Regional Theatre Award Huntington Theatre Company, Boston
Isabelle Stevenson Award Larry Kramer
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre Career Transition for Dancers William Craver Peter Lawrence The Lost Colony The four actresses who created the title role of “Matilda, The Musical” on Broadway – Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro