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'Hamilton,' 'Eclipsed' and more shine at 2016 Tony nominations

"Hamilton," created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda (far right), received a record-setting 16 nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards.
Disney+/"Hamilton" (2020)

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The "Hamilton" train just keeps on rolling.

The musical has already won a Grammy and a Pulitzer, and now it's set to dominate the 2016 Tony Awards. This morning it was announced that "Hamilton" received a record-setting 16 nominations for this year's Tonys, breaking the record previously held by "The Producers."

Of course, there's more happening on Broadway than just "Hamilton." Jesse Green, theater critic at New York Magazine, joined us to break down the rest of this year's Tony nominees. (The awards ceremony is scheduled for June 12.)

Interview Highlights:

"Hamilton" set a record with 16 Tony nominations. Could it actually have gotten more? Was there a category where it was snubbed?

No, it got a nomination in every single award it was up for, and I feel certain that if it had been up for some other category that has yet to be invented, it would have been nominated there as well.

Most expensive tickets on Broadway? [laughs] The record for the most wins is held by "The Producers," which won 12 back in 2001. Could "Hamilton" win that many or more? In some categories, like "Featured Actor in a Musical," it has multiple nominations.

It's still possible, since it's nominated in 13 separate categories, so if it won one of the awards in each of those categories, then it would beat "The Producers." But that's highly unlikely.

Because it has to sweep?

Yeah, and there are a lot of other shows around and I think the voters are going to feel like sharing some of the joy and money with them, even in a year that has quite a juggernaut of a show. No one's doubting that "Hamilton" will have a very long life and will win most of the big awards that it's up for, but I think there's going to be room for some of the less famous categories to go to other players.

(Lupita Nyong'o stars in "Eclipsed," for which she was nominated for a Tony. Image courtesy of Getty Images.)

Out here in Hollywood, we've spent a lot of time talking about #OscarsSoWhite. But there's a recent study of theater casting — not just Broadway — and it found that during last year's season, about 30% of the roles went to actors of color. Among this year's Tony nominations, was there a pretty diverse group of performers?

Yeah, that statistic comes from the previous season, and this season is even better for diversity. That's definitely represented among the nominees, which I'm sure is giving the Broadway community quite a collective feeling of schadenfreude vis-a-vis the Hollywood community. [laughs]

We've got "Eclipsed," which stars Lupita Nyong'o and has an entirely black, female cast; we have a revival of "The Color Purple" with a stunning lead performance by Cynthia Erivo, who may win one of those awards away from "Hamilton";  and we've got several other shows with leading characters of color or who represent other kinds of diversity.

Was there any one nomination that really gratified you — a performance, a play, something that might have slipped under the radar but that got recognition from the Tony nominators?

I'm glad to see that Laura Benanti, the star of "She Loves Me" — which is a revival of the classic, golden age musical — was nominated in the Leading Actress category. I don't know how much of a surprise it was, but there were a lot of possibilities in that category.

Also, there's a show called "Disaster" — I was not a fan of the show, which is a spoof of disaster movies and disco music. [laughs] To me, it's not a great combination, but Jennifer Simard, who's a known quantity here in New York, but not very famous, plays the drunk nun character that you might imagine in such a show. She steals the show and she got nominated for a Featured Actress Tony award. She's unlikely to win it, but you never know.

I think every musical needs a drunk nun character.

[laughs] Yes, and every convent.

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