So the Tony nominations came out this morning….
I’ve been waiting for the last seven years, through every tweet, concert and staging, for this moment to arrive. And arrive it did–like gangbusters. Just like it burst onto the Great Wide Way, HAMILTON fired into Tony history with a record-breaking SIXTEEN nominations in every category imaginable. If they could have nominated the theater ushers and the #Ham4Ham shows I bet they’d have found a way.
I’m very excited, but I’m thoroughly torn. Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921, and All That Followed, the George C. Wolfe staged production of the Eubie Blake musical, is also nominated, head-to-head with HAMILTON in several categories. You see, the last bit of news I’d heard was that Shuffle Along was delaying their eligibility for consideration this year. All the powerhouse talent I adore–Billy Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Allen, Savion Glover–is involved with this show. Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald is in this show. And Adrienne Warren (who ironically has Lin-Manuel ties from her role in Bring It On), is part of the Shuffle Along family as well.
I don’t even know how to feel right now. As far as musical talent and stellar humanity, Lin and Billy are my end-all, be-all. I LOVE them. That old saying about having to choose your favorite child is in full effect. As much as I’ve crowed endlessly about HAMILTON, it was the musical EUBIE! that was my very first exposure to a Broadway style production….so by extension, Shuffle Along birthed the love for musical theater that allowed me to fall ass over tea kettle in love with HAMILTON. Both of these shows are at the core of my being.
Tony Night will be bittersweet indeed as I wait to see how the votes tallied. The HAMILTON vs. Shuffle battle alone is tense enough (and I’m just going to ignore the Best Musical category altogether, as they just need to make five statues and hand them out NOW)…we have to choose WITHIN categories. There’s a three way scuffle between the Georges, Lafayette and Jefferson, as Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs and Jonathan Groff have all been nominated for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award. I’m leaning most towards Chris because he’s long overdue, but how do you not look at the contrasting dual energies Daveed pours out or all of the emotions Jonathan wrings out of his nine minutes onstage? And in clearly what is someone’s idea of a twisted joke…Hamilton and Burr–in the guise of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr.–battle among themselves for Best Lead Actor. You savages.
This is a Tony year like no other. HAMILTON is my clear and biased choice for everything because I feel like it’s MY show…like I’m a part of its development. In a way, Lin lets us feel like we are, so I’ll be mentally standing on stage with the producers as they claim the trophy. But there are so many other variables and connections in play, and I feel like I’ll be happy if either of my loves wins, yet will also weep for the names not called. Even though HAMILTON is the Jacob to Shuffle‘s Esau in my mind, I can’t completely cast off my other child. Maybe I should contact Olivia and Archie Manning to see how they dealt with it……
Either way, whatever happens in the shuffle, come June 12, I’m raising a glass.