An August Wilson revival and a new play directed by former Intiman artistic director Bartlett Sher are among this year's Tony nominees. Come from Away, which was staged at Seattle Repertory Theatre before it went to Broadway, is up for best musical. Other locals done good include costume designer David Zinn, actor Denis Arndt, and director Daniel Sullivan. Celebrity actors nominated this year include Bette Midler, Cate Blanchett, Kevin Kline, Sally Field, Laurie Metcalf, and Danny DeVito.
August Wilson's play Jitney originally premiered in 1982 but had never made it to Broadway before this season. Wilson wrote some of his plays in Seattle, on Capitol Hill. Back in 2005, the year Wilson died, Charles Mudede wrote about seeing him at "Victrola Coffee & Art and the Canterbury Ale & Eats, where I often observed him eating fried foods and smoking cigarettes. The man amazed me."
Jitney is set in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and "follows a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed, and the fragile threads binding these people together may come undone at last." Here's a clip.
Bartlett Sher is up for best director for Oslo, which is also nominated for best play. Oslo "tells the surprising true story of the back-channel talks, unlikely friendships and quiet heroics that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between the Israelis and Palestinians."
It looks like this:
"The genesis of the play occurred during the run of a previous play by J.T. Rogers at Lincoln Center Theater, Blood and Gifts," according to the Tony Awards website. "Director Barlett Sher introduced his friend Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian diplomat, to the playwright. Over drinks, Larsen shared that he and his wife, Mona Juul, now Norway's Ambassador to the UN, had covertly organized the back-channel talks between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. Rogers knew he had his next play (and his director)."
The actor Denis Arndt, who got his start in acting in Seattle, is nominated for best actor in a leading role for his work in the play Heisenberg. Reportedly, Arndt was managing an apartment building in Seattle when one of his tenants encouraged him to audition for what became his first show.
The costume designer David Zinn, from Bainbridge Island, is nominated for his work on A Doll's House, Part 2, which looks like this:
According to American Theatre, Zinn was making theater as early as 7 years old, in a production of Annie on Bainbridge, and he spent high school years as an intern backstage in Seattle theaters. Check out his portfolio of design work here.
As for Come from Away, when it premiered at Seattle Rep, it broke "the Rep's all-time record for single ticket sales in a 24-hour period." And it warmed the heart of Stranger theater critic Rich Smith, who is not usually a musicals guy. If you need me, I'll be at my desk kicking myself for not seeing it here when I had the chance.
The other musicals nominated for the top honor are Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day: The Musical, and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (which is nominated in 12 categories and is the most buzzed-about musical since Hamilton).
Cate Blanchett is nominated for her work in The Present, Kevin Kline for Present Laughter, Sally Field for The Glass Menagerie, Laurie Metcalf for A Doll's House, Part 2, and Danny DeVito for Arthur Miller's The Price.
I'm sure Kevin Spacey will be fine as host, but there's no way he'll be as good as this: