Out actor Neil Patrick Harris is not angry with the nominations.
by Donalevan Maines
Hugh Jackman, like Evita, never left us. The Aussie hunk is back as host of the Tony Awards telecast, which airs June 8.
The AIDS Quilt is still with us, too—thank goodness. The memorial to our fallen loved ones was finally seen on Broadway this year at the Golden Theatre, where Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons is a Best Play nominee.
And dear ol’ NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) might not be hosting this year’s Tony ceremony, but he’s the odds-on favorite to win Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The 1998 John Cameron Mitchell glam rocker, about a “girlyboy” whose sex change is botched, should get plenty of Tony face time with its eight nominations that include Best Musical Revival. (Did you know that Jinkx Monsoon, who won last year’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, starred in a Seattle production of Hedwig?)
Among other out finalists for Broadway’s highest honor are Harvey Fierstein as the author of Casa Valentina, Cherry Jones for Best Leading Actress in a Play for The Glass Menagerie, and actors Samuel Barnett and Stephen Fry in the all-male production of Twelfth Night.
This being the theater, there’s no telling how many other nominees are gay (much less out), but gaydar connects the dots with photos at tonyawards.com. Among the most notable is William Ivey Long, a confirmed gay bachelor who designed the costumes for Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway.
Rosie O’Donnell will receive the prestigious Isabelle Stevenson Award, which honors “an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theater.” Larry Kramer won last year for his work as co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization. In 2003, McDonnell launched Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation, a nonprofit arts education organization that provides dance, music, and drama training for New York City public school students. The group’s musical director is Steven Jamail, who grew up in Friendswood. “This is a movement that has become much bigger than any one person,” says McDonnell, who hosted the Tonys in 1997, 1998, and 2000.
Jackman won a special Tony in 2012. He also hosted from 2003 to 2005, won an Emmy Award in 2004, and was crowned Best Leading Actor in a Musical as Liza Minnelli’s first gay husband, Peter Allen, in 2004’s The Boy from Oz.
“Hugh is the ultimate performer. Actor, singer, and dancer—he does it all, second to none,” says CBS executive Jack Sussman. “He is a consummate entertainer and the one you want out there.”
Many of this year’s races appear up for grabs, but A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder leads all comers with 10 nominations, including Best Musical.
Other top tuners are After Midnight, Disney’s Aladdin, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, whose book was written by Doug McGrath, a Texan who won an Oscar nomination for co-writing the movie Bullets Over Broadway in 1994 (with Woody Allen).
Beautiful star Jessie Mueller is up for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Mary Bridget Davies (A Night with Janis Joplin), Sutton Foster (Violet), Idina Menzel (If/Then), and Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County). This is the fifth nomination for O’Hara, who also played the Julianne Moore role of Cathy Whitaker in a recent musical version of Far from Heaven.
In the race for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, NPH faces Ramin Karimloo (Les Misérables), Andy Karl as Rocky Balboa, and both Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham in Gentleman’s Guide. Mays won a 2004 Tony Award playing transgender Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (and some 40 other roles) in I Am My Own Wife by out Dallas playwright Doug Wright.
Cherry Jones’s Best Leading Actress competition includes Tyne Daly as the mother from hell in Mothers and Sons, a “sequel of sorts” to McNally’s Emmy Award-winning 1990 teleplay Andre’s Mother. Set amid white balloons at a memorial service for an AIDS victim, it starred Sada Thompson, Richard Thomas, and Sylvia Sidney. The play, which McNally (a Corpus Christi native) wrote with Daly in mind, finds Andre’s mother visiting his widowed lover, who’s now married to another guy and raising a six-year-old son. Homosexuality “still sickens” Andre’s mother. Oh well.
Other nominees in their category are LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who replaced Diahann Carroll as Denzel Washington’s mother in A Raisin in the Sun, Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Oscar winner Estelle Parsons in The Velocity of Autumn.
Sadly, out actor Zachary Quinto was passed over in the race for Best Leading Actor in a Play despite ebullient notices as Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagarie. (Tony voters like to honor shows that are still running.) With Quinto out of the way, Bryan Cranston, All the Way’s LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson), leads the field. Other nominees (besides Barnett) include Chris O’Dowd (opposite James Franco in Of Mice and Men), Tony Shalboub (Act One), and Mark Rylance (Richard III).
Rylance is also a nominee for Best Featured Actor in a Play, along with Twelfth Night costars Fry and Paul Chahidi, Texas boy Brian J. Smith (as the Gentleman Caller in Menagerie), and Reed Birney as a cross-dresser in Casa Valentina. Birney told USA Today he’s “mystified as to why women didn’t burn high heels before they burned bras.”
As a cross-dresser’s wife in Casa Valentina, Mare Winningham is nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Play alongside Celia Keenan-Bolger as lame Laura in Menagerie, Sarah Greene (opposite Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan), and two Raisin costars, Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose. (Winningham and Okonedo have been nominated for Oscars.)
What: The 68th Annual Tony Awards
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, June 8