Tony Awards nominations have an unusual San Diego angle for 2018
The 2018 Tony Awards nominations were announced this morning, and in what has long since become an annual occurrence, shows that originated in San Diego were among the picks for the Broadway theater honors.
What’s unusual this time around is that the nominated productions are plays, not musicals.
Ayad Akhtar’s “Junk” and John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” — both of which originated at La Jolla Playhouse — were nominated in the best-play category. Leguizamo also will receive a Special Tony Award for his solo piece.
A pair of musicals that had their world premieres at the Playhouse in 2017 before transferring to Broadway were eligible for nominations: “Escape to Margaritaville” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”
But neither landed a spot in the marquee best-musical field, which mustered only four productions for 2018: “The Band’s Visit,” “Frozen,” “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.”
The Playhouse musicals also were shut out of the best-book category, and neither was eligible for best original score, as both are jukebox musicals: “Margaritaville” is built around the songs of Jimmy Buffett, while “Summer” tells the life story of the late disco queen through her own music.
But two “Summer” cast members were nominated: LaChanze in the lead actress category, and Ariana DeBose as featured actress.
“Junk” and “Latin History,” the two Playhouse-launched plays, are nominated alongside “The Children,” “Farinelli and the King” and the likely odds-on favorite, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Akhtar’s play focuses on the Shakespearean drama of high-stakes high finance in the 1980s, while the Broadway and film/TV veteran Leguizamo’s work is a cuttingly comic examination of Latinx tokenism through the ages.
“Junk” received one other nomination, for Ben Stanton’s lighting design.
One other San Diego-bred play was thought to be in the running: Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower,” which premiered at the Old Globe Theatre.
That cosmic comedy by the actor-writer-musician was left out of the best-play category, although Amy Schumer did receive a lead-actress nomination in her Broadway debut (the New York production of “Meteor Shower” had an entirely different cast than the Globe’s original staging).
Three directors who are former San Diegans are in the broader Tonys mix. Casey Nicholaw, who came up through San Diego Junior Theatre and the Globe, is nominated for both directing and choreographing “Mean Girls.”
And “Carousel,” directed by longtime Globe artistic chief Jack O’Brien, and “My Fair Lady,” directed by onetime young-gun local theatermaker Bartlett Sher, are both nominated in the musical-revival category. Sher also received a directing nod.
The 2018 Tony Awards ceremony is set for June 10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
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