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The feel-good Canadian musical Come From Away, one of the current hits of the New York City theatre scene, is among the leading contenders for Broadway’s top honour, earning a raft of Tony Award nominations Tuesday.
Come From Away, about how the residents of Gander, N.L., welcomed thousands of stranded travellers on Sept. 11, 2001, after the U.S. attacks, earned seven nominations, including for the coveted best musical title.
Husband-and-wife creators David Hein and Irene Sankoff, who were living at New York during 9/11, earned nominations for best book of a musical and for writing the production’s original score.
“To see New York embrace this, to see these New York audiences and the Tonys [nomination committee] say this is an important story and the work we have been doing for so long is important — it’s overwhelming and it’s so gratifying,” Hein told CBC News in New York on Tuesday.
Working with theatre producer Michael Rubinoff, the Canadian couple created Come From Away after attending a 10th-anniversary 9/11 ceremony in Gander, and workshopped the fledgling production at an incubator for Canadian musicals that Rubinoff founded at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.
“It makes me proud of everyone who’s worked on it with us,” Hein said of the show’s haul of Tony nominations.
“Best musical — it feels like it’s a nomination for everyone who’s been working on the show forever.”
The musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 — singer Josh Groban’s Broadway debut — led the pack overall with 12 Tony nominations, followed closely by the Bette Midler-led revival of Hello, Dolly! with 10.
Performers Jane Krakowski and Christopher Jackson announced the nominees for the 71st annual awards, revealed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Come From Away also earned nods for choreography, lighting design and direction, and for performer Jenn Colella, a contender for best featured actress in a musical.
The new sign is already up. Co-creator David Hein enjoying Tony noms for #ComeFromAway pic.twitter.com/mFtcoEOjhy
It is the first Canadian musical to earn widespread Tony recognition since wacky tale The Drowsy Chaperone in 2006.
The moment the @WeComeFromAway inspirations found out they were Tony nominated – including a FaceTime call from @SankoffandHein #CBCnl pic.twitter.com/nXkTHEWKpD
The show speaks so much to the character of Newfoundland and Labrador people, Come From Away actress Petrina Bromley said just after the announcement.
“To get seven nominations is just beyond incredible.”
Throughout Come From Away‘s pre-Broadway runs in the U.S. and Canada, as well as after its debut in New York, the musical has been praised as feel-good true story about our capacity for kindness and compassion during a dark time — and touted by critics as a timely balm for the current divisive U.S. political and social landscape.
“The show is so important. It shows us how kindness is possible,” said co-star Astrid Van Wieren.
“It doesn’t take a lot — letting someone use your shower and making them toutons and getting them clean clothes … playing music, entertaining them, taking their mind off a horrible time — it doesn’t cost a lot to be kind … the show is about that.”
.@WeComeFromAway tells the story of Canadians at their best. Congratulations on your nomination for Best Musical at @theTonyAwards.
The musical has already earned nominations for other U.S. theatre honours, including the Drama Desk Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Drama League Awards and the Helen Hayes Awards.
According to producer Rubinoff, who travelled to Gander on Tuesday to celebrate with Come From Away‘s real-life inspirations, Tuesday’s Tony nominations extend the show even further since the musical nominees typically get the opportunity to perform during the awards gala.
“The company of Come From Away will perform live on the Tony Awards … so they will get to perform a number from the show that’s going to go out to millions of people around the world [who will] get to experience this incredible show,” he said. “That’s also a really exciting an opportunity.”
Winners of the 2017 Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, will be announced June 11 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The three-hour ceremony, which will include a tribute to lifetime achievement winner James Earl Jones, will air live on CBS.
Best play: A Doll’s House, Part 2; Indecent; Oslo; Sweat.
Best musical: Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Groundhog Day The Musical; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
Book of a musical: Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Groundhog Day the Musical; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
Original score: Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Groundhog Day The Musical; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
Revival of a play: August Wilson’s Jitney; Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Present Laughter; Six Degrees of Separation.
Revival of a musical: Falsettos; Hello, Dolly!, Miss Saigon.
Lead actor, play: Denis Arndt, Heisenberg; Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation; Kevin Kline, Present Laughter; Jefferson Mays, Oslo.
Lead actress, play: Cate Blanchett, The Present; Jennifer Ehle, Oslo; Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie; Laura Linney, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Lead actor, musical: Christian Borle, Falsettos; Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical; David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!; Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen.
Lead actress, musical: Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Christine Ebersole, War Paint; Patti LuPone, War Paint; Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!; Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon.
Featured actor, play: Michael Aronov, Oslo; Danny DeVito, Arthur Miller’s The Price; Nathan Lane, The Front Page; Richard Thomas, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; John Douglas Thompson, August Wilson’s Jitney.
Featured actress, play: Johanna Day, Sweat; Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Condola Rashad, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Michelle Wilson, Sweat.
Featured actor, musical: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!; Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen; Andrew Rannells, Falsettos; Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos.
Featured actress, musical: Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!; Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos; Jenn Colella, Come From Away; Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen; Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia.
Scenic design, play: David Gallo, August Wilson’s Jitney; Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong; Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page; Michael Yeargan, Oslo.
Scenic design, musical: Rob Howell, Groundhog Day The Musical; David Korins, War Paint; Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Costume design, play: Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter; Toni-Leslie James, August Wilson’s Jitney; David Zinn, A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Costume design, musical: Linda Cho, Anastasia; Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!; Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Catherine Zuber, War Paint.
Lighting design, play: Christopher Akerlind, Indecent; Jane Cox, August Wilson’s Jitney; Donald Holder, Oslo; Jennifer Tipton, A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Lighting design, musical: Howell Binkley, Come From Away; Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!; Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Japhy Weideman, Dear Evan Hansen.
Direction, Play: Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s Jitney; Bartlett Sher, Oslo; Daniel Sullivan, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Rebecca Taichman, Indecent.
Direction, musical: Christopher Ashley, Come From Away; Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen; Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day The Musical; Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!
Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand; Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day The Musical; Kelly Devine, Come From Away; Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical; Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
Orchestrations: Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand; Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!; Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen; Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.