Mean Girls and SpongeBob musicals lead Tony nominations


New York — Two popular entertainment brands — Tina Fey's high school morality tale Mean Girls and the goofy undersea cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants — lead the Tony Award nominations with 12 apiece. Another massive property, a play based on the wizard Harry Potter, also cast a spell, earning 10 nods.

Fey, who adapted the story of her oft-quoted 2004 movie with her composer husband, Jeff Richmond, admitted they awaited Tuesday's announcement with bated breath. "We're new to this whole Broadway thing and this whole musical thing so it was hard to tell which way everything could swing," Richmond said. "We're delighted."

A British revival of Angels in America, Tony Kushner's monumental, two-part drama about AIDS, life and love during the 1980s, grabbed 11 nominations — the most for any play this season — 25 years after it first appeared on Broadway.

Denise Gough, who plays Harper Pitt in Angels in America, was just pleased that the British import landed so gratefully on Broadway. "We're doing New York's play! That is a total privilege," she said. "Wouldn't that be terrible if we came back and you were all like, what have you done with our play?"

The shimmering, grown-up musical The Band's Visit also earned 11 nods, including Katrina Lenk earning her first Tony nomination. The musical is based on a 2007 Israeli film about an accidental clash of cultures when an Egyptian orchestra gets lost and ends up in the wrong Israeli town.

"I suppose it sounds cheesy if you say it, but it's really an honour. It's kind of hard to put into words. It's a deep joy." Next up for the actress: a nap. "Then I get to do the show again. I love doing it. I love this cast. I love being here. So the best way to celebrate is just to come back and do it."

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise extended its magical touch to Broadway, with the two-part stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child featuring the bespectacled wizard earning 10 nominations, as did a revival of My Fair Lady.

The best new musical category is filled by The Band's VisitFrozen, Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants. Those musicals that failed to make the cut were the Hal Prince revue Prince of Broadway, the Jimmy Buffett musical Escape to Margaritaville and Summer, about disco diva Donna Summer.

Taylor Louderman, a veteran of such musicals as Bring It On: The Musical and Kinky Boots, earned her first nomination for playing a high school queen bee who is laid low in Mean Girls.

"I really haven't sat back and thought about the young version of me and how she would be freaking out right now," she said. "I'm from a small town where people don't really get out and dream big. I just really thought I would never be here."

She faces competition from Lenk; Lauren Ambrose of My Fair Lady, Hailey Kilgore of Once On This Island, LaChanze of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and Jessie Mueller of Carousel.

This is Tony-winner Mueller's fourth nomination but she said it never gets old. "It's still exciting. It always feels different because every show means something different, and is very personal in its own way. I just keep thinking of all the happy faces I'm going to see tonight when I go to work," she said.

The two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which picks up 19 years from where Rowling's last novel left off and portrays Potter and his friends as grown-ups, won nine Olivier Awards in London before coming to the U.S. and bewitching critics and audiences alike. It now will face The ChildrenFarinelli and The KingJunk and Latin History for Morons for best new play.

Anthony Boyle won a nomination for best featured actor for his work in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He played Scorpius Malfoy in London and now on Broadway. He said he's having a ball with Broadway audiences.

"They're so vocal, it's like having an extra cast member onstage," he said. "You hear audible gasps, and sobs. Broadway audiences are incomparable."

Best male acting nominations for a play include Denzel Washington, starring in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's epic The Iceman Cometh. The 2010 Tony winner for Fences faces off against Andrew Garfield in Angels in America, Tom Hollander of Travesties, Jamie Parker of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Mark Rylance in Farinelli and The King.

Amy Schumer, who made her Broadway debut in Steve Martin's comedy Meteor Shower, won a nomination for best actress in a play. Others in the category include Glenda Jackson from Three Tall Women, Condola Rashad in Saint Joan and Lauren Ridloff in Children of a Lesser God.

Ridloff, a deaf actress making her Broadway debut in the Broadway revival of Mark Medoff's 1979 play, paid tribute to Phyllis Frelich, who pioneered the part in 1980 and won a Tony in the same role. In the play, a teacher at a school for the deaf, who becomes romantically involved with a former student, Sarah.

"The messages that come with this story reach to all people that are marginalised — women, people of color, differently abled people," Ridloff texted on Tuesday. "I just keep my focus on telling Sarah's story — that is the most important thing to me at the end of the day."

CarouselMy Fair Lady and Once on This Island make up the best musical revival category, mostly because they're only eligible nominees.

The best play revival category is filled by Angels in America, Three Tall WomenLobby Hero, Travesties and The Iceman Cometh.

One surprise was the relatively few nominations for Disney's Frozen — three, for best original score, best book and best musical. The much-anticipated adaptation of the animated blockbuster got no nominations for its leading ladies — Caissie Levy and Patti Murin— or for traditional Disney strengths like sets and costumes.

While Broadway veterans like Louderman, Mark Rylance and Condola Rashad all received nominations, some Hollywood stars were shut out, including Uma Thurman, Chris Evans and Clive Owen.

Bruce Springsteen, whose solo show mixes songs and stories from his best-selling memoir Born to Run and has been banking over $2m each week he's onstage, will be granted a special, non-competitive Tony, along with John Leguizamo for Latin History for Morons.

Plenty of nominations don't necessarily lead to actual wins on Tony night. While Hamilton was nominated for 16 awards in 2016 and went on to win 11, just last year Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 earned a leading 12 nominations but got just two technical awards on the big night.

HERE ARE THE FULL LIST OF NOMINEES:

Best Musical: 
The Band's Visit
Frozen
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Play
The Children 
Farinelli and the King 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two 
Junk
Latin History for Morons

Best Book of a Musical
The Band's Visit
Frozen
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre 
Angels in America
The Band's Visit
Frozen
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Revival of a Play
Angels in America
Three Tall Women 
The Iceman Cometh
Lobby Hero
Travesties

Best Revival of a Musical
Carousel
My Fair Lady
Once on This Island

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play 
Andrew Garfield, "Angels in America"
Tom Hollander, "Travesties"
Jamie Parker, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two"
Mark Rylance, "Farinelli and The King"
Denzel Washington, "The Iceman Cometh"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Glenda Jackson, "Three Tall Women"
Condola Rashad, "Saint Joan"
Lauren Ridloff, "Children of a Lesser God"
Amy Schumer, "Meteor Shower"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Harry Hadden-Paton, "My Fair Lady"
Joshua Henry, "Carousel"
Tony Shalhoub, "The Band's Visit"
Ethan Slater, "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Lauren Ambrose, "My Fair Lady"
Hailey Kilgore, "Once On This Island”
LaChanze, "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical"
Katrina Lenk, "The Band's Visit"
Taylor Louderman, "Mean Girls"
Jessie Mueller, "Carousel"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play 
Anthony Boyle, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two"
Michael Cera, "Lobby Hero"
Brian Tyree Henry, "Lobby Hero"
Nathan Lane, "Angels in America"
David Morse, "The Iceman Cometh"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Susan Brown, "Angels in America"
Noma Dumezweni, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two"
Deborah Findlay, "The Children"
Denise Gough, "Angels in America"
Laurie Metcalf, "Three Tall Women"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, "My Fair Lady"
Alexander Gemignani, "Carousel"
 Grey Henson, "Mean Girls"
Gavin Lee, "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical"
Ari'el Stachel, "The Band's Visit"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical"
Renee Fleming, "Carousel"
Lindsay Mendez, "Carousel"
Ashley Park, "Mean Girls"
Diana Rigg, "My Fair Lady"

(Photos: AP)