The 2012 Tony Awards nominations were announced Tuesday morning, feting the best productions and performances on Broadway from the past year. The big winner is the new musical Once, adapted from a 2006 indie film about the fleeting romance between a pair of musicians in Dublin, and scoring a leading 11 nominations, including for Best Musical. Also racking up major nods: The Phillip Seymour Hoffman-led revival of Death of a Salesman, the smash new stage adaptation of the Disney musical Newsies, and stars like James Earl Jones, Cynthia Nixon, and Andrew Garfield. (See all the nominees here.) A closer look at the biggest snubs and surprises:
"Please cry for Ricky Martin and Elena Roger in the Broadway revival of Evita," says Thom Geier at Entertainment Weekly. "The truth is, the Tony nominators didn't love you." The "Livin' La Vida Loca" singer earned surprisingly strong reviews for his turn in the musical, while the Argentinian-born Roger actually won the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award (Britain's version of the Tony) for her performance as Eva Peron across the pond. Both were "thought to be locks for their performances," says Terri Schwartz at iVillage.
Samuel L. Jackson
The Mountaintop, a high-profile drama starring Samuel L. Jackson as Martin Luther King Jr. and Angela Bassett as a hotel maid he meets the night before he's assassinated, was shut out completely, even though it was one of the biggest financial hits of the season. It appears "being an Oscar nominee or a pop star doesn't give you clout on Broadway," says Clay Cane at BET.
"One of the biggest shockers" is the omission of Lansbury, says Geier. The stage legend already has a record-tying five Tony Awards, and many believed she would claim a sixth statue for her performance as a Southern political doyenne in Gore Vidal's The Best Man. Instead, almost the entire Best Man cast — including Eric McCormack, John Larroquete, and Candice Bergen — was shut out, despite the play's positive notices. Only James Earl Jones received a nod.
Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark
The troubled musical's long, expensive slog to Broadway was fraught with negative press: Injured actors, an outlandish $75 million budget, incessant delays, and critical lashings. Yet after a string of several other poorly-reviewed musicals opened this year, the show was considered a dark horse for Best Musical. "But the Tony voters were not swayed," says Roger Friedman at Forbes. The headline-making musical earned only two technical nods and nothing in the main categories, not "even for delicious Patrick Page as the Green Goblin."
In a season that saw the opening of the effects-heavy Spider-Man, a splashy stage adaptation of the film Ghost, and the first-ever Broadway revival of the popular musical Godspell, it's surprising that this spare production earned the most nominations, says Schwartz. The small production graduated to the Great White Way after a well-received off-Broadway run, and eschews a full orchestra, instead asking its actors to accompany themselves on their own instruments
If Lansbury was passed over, it's because surprise nominee Rashad took her slot. The daughter of Phylicia Rashad (of The Cosby Show fame and a Tony-winner herself) was recognized for her performance in the drama Stick Fly, even though the play only ran for two-and-a-half months and closed in February.
Former reality TV star Laura Osnes
Osnes scored an unexpected nod in the Best Actress in a Musical category for her performance in Bonnie and Clyde, even though the production was ruled a major flop, shuttering months ago after a blink-and-you'll-miss-it run and atrocious reviews, says Geier. The rising starlet first emerged on the Broadway scene five years ago after winning the NBC reality series Grease: You're the One That I Want, for which she was given a starring role in a subsequent revival of Grease. Osnes beat out Broadway legend Bernadette Peters (Follies) and presumptive-lock Elena Roger (Evita) for the nomination.
The news wasn't all bad on the Spider-Man front, says Schwartz. Andrew Garfield, who plays the superhero in the upcoming summer blockbuster, received a nomination for his portrayal of Biff Lohman in the smash revival of Death of a Salesman. Competition was tough to make it in the category — including from his co-star Finn Wittrock, says Scott Brown at New York. Wittrock's "uniquely interpreted Happy Lohman managed to stand out on a stage full of standouts."
Editor's note: This piece originally misstated who the author of Godspell is. Stephen Schwartz wrote the popular musical. This article has since been corrected. We regret the error.