2018 Tony Award Nominations: ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘SpongeBob’ Lead the Pack

Two musicals with enormous brand names, “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” led the pack of Tony-nominated shows Tuesday morning, garnering 12 nods each.

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, New York Times

Two musicals with enormous brand names, “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” led the pack of Tony-nominated shows Tuesday morning, garnering 12 nods each.

The nominators also showered affection on five critically acclaimed productions: Revivals of “Angels in America” and “Carousel,” as well as the new musical “The Band’s Visit,” got 11 nominations apiece, while the new play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and a revival of “My Fair Lady” each got 10.

The best new musical race will now pit “The Band’s Visit,” a critical darling, against three shows with bigger fan bases but weaker reviews: “Mean Girls,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Frozen.”

Among the boldface names who scored nominations: Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Cera, Renée Fleming and Diana Rigg.

Thirty Broadway productions were eligible for prizes, the smallest number in more than a decade. This year’s Tony Awards will take place on June 10 at Radio City Music Hall and will be broadcast on CBS.

Magic is not a metaphor.

It’s been a blockbuster season on Broadway, and not just because of record-breaking box-office grosses.

Many of the season’s shows are based on widely recognized entertainment brands — “Frozen,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” “Mean Girls,” “Escape to Margaritaville” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” There were solo shows by Bruce Springsteen, Michael Moore, John Lithgow and John Leguizamo, and star turns by Schumer, Washington, Chris Evans, Uma Thurman, Garfield and Clive Owen.

The nominators showered recognition on several of those shows, including “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob,” but none on “Margaritaville,” which has been struggling at the box office. The Tony nominations, selected by a panel of 43 people knowledgeable about theater, have the potential to give a lift to the nominated shows, and to mark the beginning of the end for those that are struggling.

Watch for “Cursed Child” and “Angels in America,” both two-part productions which transferred to Broadway after wowing critics and audiences in London’s West End, to do especially well once voting begins. “Cursed Child,” with an enormous budget (its capitalization was $35.5 million) and cast (40 performers), won nearly unanimous praise from critics.

And “Angels,” one of the 20th century’s great American plays, is also a large-scale production (its capitalization was $7.6 million) with a gifted cast led by Garfield and Nathan Lane.


Springsteen can make room for a Tony on his awards shelf.

Awards administrators said Tuesday that they had decided to give the 68-year-old rock idol an honorary Tony in recognition of his ongoing song-and-storytelling show, “Springsteen on Broadway,” which has been running at the Walter Kerr Theater since October.

The award is noncompetitive. Springsteen opted not to contend for competitive awards, disqualifying his show from consideration by declining to invite Tony voters to see it. Previous recipients of special Tonys have included Bette Midler, Lena Horne, John Cameron Mitchell and Dame Edna.

The award makes it far more likely that Springsteen would perform on the Tony Awards, which is to air on CBS on June 10, and that could help the show’s ratings.

“Springsteen on Broadway” has been an enormous hit, critically and commercially. It won rave reviews, and it has been consistently sold out; it has already grossed $55 million, and the most recent average ticket price was $508, which is quite high for Broadway. The last show is scheduled to be Dec. 15.

Springsteen has no shortage of prizes. He won an Oscar in 1993 for best song (“Streets Of Philadelphia” from “Philadelphia”) and he has won 20 Grammy Awards.

It was a quieter year for new musicals.

Musicals are the bread and butter of contemporary Broadway, but this season was generally regarded as a weak one for new shows.

The only musical universally praised by critics — and now the odds-on favorite for the Tony Award — is “The Band’s Visit,” a lovely, languid stage adaptation of a fictional 2007 Israeli film about what happens when an Egyptian police band gets stranded for a night in an Israeli desert town. The musical, which opened in November, has sold well but has not been sold out, and it could use awards-season attention.

Among the show’s strongest awards contenders are its composer, David Yazbek, who has been nominated for Tony Awards three times previously but has never won; its star, Katrina Lenk, who plays a fierce and sultry cafe owner named Dina; and its director, David Cromer, who is enjoying his first Broadway success with this show.

The chief competitors appear to be “Mean Girls,” an adaptation of the 2004 film, and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” a new story featuring the undersea creatures of the animated television series. “Mean Girls” marks the first Broadway venture for comedian Fey, who wrote the book for the musical based on her screenplay for the film, and “SpongeBob” is the first Broadway venture led by Nickelodeon, the children’s cable network.

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Women are dramatically underrepresented as decision-makers on Broadway — particularly as producers, directors and writers. But expect nods for several powerful women this year.

J.K. Rowling and Sonia Friedman will almost certainly be nominated as two of the three lead producers of “Cursed Child” (the third is Colin Callender). Rowling is the author of the “Harry Potter” books, and Friedman is one of the most successful producers in London.

Two female directors are also strong contenders for awards this year: Marianne Elliott, who directed the “Angels in America” revival, and Tina Landau, who directed “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Several female writers are also likely to be nominated for their work. The leading contender for best book of a musical is Fey, for “Mean Girls.” And at least two women are likely to score nods as the authors of new plays: Lucy Kirkwood, for “The Children,” and Claire van Kampen, for “Farinelli and the King.” (Rowling is not credited as the writer of “Cursed Child,” although she collaborated with author Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany on creating the story.)

What happens next?

Now it’s up to the voters.

There are 841 Tony voters — investors and producers, as well as actors, directors, designers, journalists and others — who are eligible to cast ballots for most categories. (This year, for the first time, a few categories — sound design and orchestration — will be decided by a subset of about half of the voters.)

The voters now have about five weeks to finish seeing all the nominated shows, or to revisit shows they saw in the fall and want to see again, and then they have until noon June 8 to submit ballots. This is the first year that the Tonys, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, are using all electronic voting — each voter is to be tracking his or her show attendance on a website, and then is to submit votes using that site.

In the coming weeks, the voters will get barraged with goodies from the nominated shows — cast recordings, souvenir books, trinkets — and the nominees will pop up at a ceaseless stream of nonprofit benefits, hoping to build goodwill and remain visible to industry insiders while voting is underway.

A few noncompetitive honors have already been announced. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and performer Chita Rivera will receive lifetime achievement awards at the ceremony, while Nick Scandalios, executive vice president of the Nederlander Organization, will get a volunteerism award for his work as an advocate for gay parents and their children. The annual prize for regional theater will go to La MaMa Etc., the New York-based experimental theater company.

At a reception on June 4, Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater will be presented to Sara Krulwich, the longtime theater photographer for The New York Times; Bessie Nelson, a longtime costume beader; and Ernest Winzer Cleaners, a 110-year-old business with a specialty in costume work.

Full List of Nominations


Best Musical

“The Band’s Visit”


“Mean Girls”

“SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical”

Best Play

“The Children”

“Farinelli and the King”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”


“Latin History for Morons”

Best Revival of a Musical


“My Fair Lady”

“Once on This Island”

Best Revival of a Play

“Angels in America”

“Lobby Hero”

“Three Tall Women”

“The Iceman Cometh”


Best Book of a Musical

“The Band’s Visit,” Itamar Moses

“Frozen,” Jennifer Lee

“Mean Girls,” Tina Fey

“SpongeBob SquarePants,” Kyle Jarrow

Best Original Score

“Angels in America,” Adrian Sutton

“The Band’s Visit,” Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek

“Frozen,” Music and Lyrics: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“Mean Girls,” Music: Jeff Richmond, lyrics: Nell Benjamin

“SpongeBob SquarePants,” Various contributors

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Andrew Garfield, “Angels in America”

Tom Hollander, “Travesties”

Jamie Parker, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Mark Rylance, “Farinelli and the King”

Denzel Washington, “The Iceman Cometh”

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Glenda Jackson, “Three Tall Women”

Condola Rashad, “Saint Joan”

Lauren Ridloff, “Children of a Lesser God”

Amy Schumer, “Meteor Shower”

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Harry Hadden-Paton, “My Fair Lady”

Joshua Henry, “Carousel”

Ethan Slater, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Tony Shalhoub, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Leading Actress 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 Featured Actor in a Play

Anthony Boyle, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Michael Cera, “Lobby Hero”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Lobby Hero”

Nathan Lane, “Angels in America”

David Morse, “The Iceman Cometh”

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Susan Brown, “Angels in America”

Noma Dumezweni, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Deborah Findlay, “The Children”

Denise Gough, “Angels in America”

Laurie Metcalf, “Three Tall Women”

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Norbert Leo Butz, “My Fair Lady”

Alexander Gemignani, “Carousel”

Grey Henson, “Mean Girls”

Gavin Lee, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Ari’el Stachel, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Ariana DeBose, “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

Renée Fleming, “Carousel”

Lindsay Mendez, “Carousel”

Ashley Park, “Mean Girls”

Diana Rigg, “My Fair Lady”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Miriam Buether, “Three Tall Women”

Jonathan Fensom, “Farinelli and the King”

Santo Loquasto, “The Iceman Cometh”

Christine Jones, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Ian MacNeil & Edward Pierce, “Angels in America”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Dane Laffrey, “Once on this Island”

Scott Pask, “The Band’s Visit”

Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young, “Mean Girls”

Michael Yeargan, “My Fair Lady”

David Zinn, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Jonathan Fensom, “Farinelli and The King”

Nicky Gillibrand, “Angels in America”

Katrina Lindsay, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Ann Roth, “Three Tall Women”

Ann Roth, “The Iceman Cometh”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, “Mean Girls”

Clint Ramos, “Once on this Island”

Ann Roth, “Carousel”

David Zinn, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Catherine Zuber, “My Fair Lady”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Paule Constable, “Angels in America”

Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, “The Iceman Cometh”

Paul Russell, “Farinelli and the King”

Ben Stanton, “Junk”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, “Once On This Island”

David Holder, “My Fair Lady”

Brian MacDevitt, “Carousel”

Tyler Micoleau, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Direction of a Play

Marianne Elliott, “Angels in America”

Joe Mantello, “Three Tall Women”

Patrick Marber, “Travesties”

John Tiffany, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

George C. Wolfe, “The Iceman Cometh”

Best Direction of a Musical

Michael Arden, “Once on this Island”

David Cromer, “The Band’s Visit”

Tina Landau, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Casey Nicholaw, “Mean Girls”

Bartlett Sher, “My Fair Lady”

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, “Frozen”

Christopher Gatelli, “My Fair Lady”

Christopher Gattelli, “SpongeBob SquarePants

Steven Hoggett, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Casey Nicholaw, “Mean Girls”

Justin Peck, “Carousel”

Best Orchestrations

John Clancy, “Mean Girls”

Tom Kitt, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Annmarie Milazzo & Michael Starobin, “Once on this Island”

Jamshied Sharifi, “The Band’s Visit”

Jonathan Tunick, “Carousel”

Sound Design in a Play

Adam Cork, “Travesties”

Ian Dickinson for Autograph, “Angels in America”

Gareth Fry, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Tom Gibbons, “1984”

Dan Moses Schreier, “The Iceman Cometh”

Sound Design in a Musical

Kai Harada, “The Band’s Visit”

Peter Hylenski, “Once On This Island”

Scott Lehrer, “Carousel”

Brian Ronan, “Mean Girls”

Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater

Chita Rivera

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Special Tony Award

John Leguizamo

Bruce Springsteen

Regional Theater Tony Award

La MaMa E.T.C.

New York City

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Nick Scandalios

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater

Sara Krulwich

Bessie Nelson

Ernest Winzer Cleaners

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