Seattle’s Robert Schenkkan, ‘Aladdin’ earn Tony nods
Seattle author Robert Schenkkan and the 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Aladdin” were singled out for Tony Award nominations on Tuesday, April 29, in advance of the 68th annual Tony Awards ceremony.
Seattle Times theater critic
“All the Way,” a panoramic historical drama about Lyndon Baines Johnson’s tumultuous first year as U.S. president, has been nominated for two Tony Awards.
The nominations, announced Tuesday morning in New York City, went to Seattle dramatist Robert Schenkkan, for best new play of Broadway’s 2013-14 season; and to “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, for his starring performance as LBJ in the current run of “All the Way” on Broadway. (The play and its upcoming sequel, “The Great Society,” will be staged this fall at Seattle Repertory Theatre, in a coproduction with Oregon Shakespeare Festival.) The awards will be presented June 8, broadcast on CBS.
This is playwright-screenwriter Schenkkan’s second Tony nomination. The first came in 1994 for his last work on Broadway, the epic drama “The Kentucky Cycle.” (The latter won a Pulitzer Prize but lost the Tony to “Angels in America: Perestroika” by Tony Kushner.)
“It’s great to be back on Broadway,” said the delighted Schenkkan, by phone from New York.
“This is a challenging business, definitely a marathon and not a sprint,” the Madison Valley resident reflected. “This has been a wonderful experience, the play is selling incredibly well, and we’ll pay back our investors before the limited run ends, in June. And I’m thrilled that the play is entering the national conversation about race and politics, as well as LBJ’s legacy.”
Asked how receiving a Tony Award would impact his work, Schenkkan replied, “You hope that it brings a little more attention and luster and name recognition to your play, which then goes on to a longer, richer life both in the U.S. and abroad. Tony recognition is so valuable in that regard.”
“Aladdin,” a new Disney musical that premiered at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in 2011 and is now on the Great White Way, is also a top Tony honoree. The hit show received five Tony nominations, including one for best musical of the season.
And Brian Yorkey, a former Village Theatre staffer who grew up in Issaquah, was singled out for his lyrics to composer Tom Kitt’s music, for the new musical “If/Then,” which also won a Tony nod for its star, Idina Menzel. (Yorkey and Kitt won a Tony in 2009 for their score for the musical “Next to Normal.”)
In the Tony race between this season’s musicals, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” a comedic romp in which a poor man eliminates the eight heirs ahead of him for a title, has nabbed a leading 10 Tony Award nominations.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a cult Off-Broadway hit that this season stars Neil Patrick Harris, won eight nominations, while “After Midnight,” a musical celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club, got seven, tied with “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and a staging of the Shakespeare play “Twelfth Night.”
The nominations announced also made waves for snubbing some big names, including Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, James Franco, Zachary Quinto and Michelle Williams.
In addition to “Aladdin,” the productions vying for “best new musical” in June are “After Midnight,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” Shows that failed to make the cut include “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Rocky,” “If/Then” and “The Bridges of Madison County.”
Five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald earned a leading actress in a play nomination for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” That’s the one female acting category in which she hasn’t already notched at least one win, meaning she is in a position to make history as the Tonys’ first grand-slam performance winner.
Competing with Schenkkan’s “All the Way” in the best new play category are James Lapine’s “Act One,” Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,” John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar” (which Seattle Rep will also perform next season), and Harvey Fierstein’s “Casa Valentina.”
Mark Rylance got two nods: One as a leading actor in a play for “Richard III” and another as a featured actor in “Twelfth Night.” Stephen Fry also got a nomination for his featured role in “Twelfth Night.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org