NEW YORK – One thing practically assured on Tuesday is that the Broadway megahit “Hamilton” will get plenty of Tony Award nominations. The real question is how many.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary has already won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Grammy, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.
Adored by critics and the public alike, “Hamilton” has raised the bar so high that earning a clutch of Tony nominations seems so likely fans will be seeing if it does more and makes Tony history.
“The Producers” and “Billy Elliot” share the record for the most Tony nominations, with 15 each. (“The Book of Mormon” got 14 nods in 2011.) “Hamilton” could very well shatter the record in the 13 categories that a new musical is eligible.
Nominations for best musical, best original score and best book are a foregone conclusion for “Hamilton,” while Thomas Kail’s direction of the show and Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography are also pretty likely.
Miranda, who plays Hamilton, and Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr, are both eligible for best actor in a musical. Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza Hamilton, has been deemed eligible for best actress. The show is also a contender for the four design awards – costumes, sets, lighting and orchestrations.
What could put “Hamilton” over the top is its deep bench of candidates for featured actor and actress awards, including Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette, Christopher Jackson as George Washington and Jonathan Groff as King George III.
“Hamilton” has burst through the Broadway bubble like few shows. Bloomingdale’s now sells “Hamilton” merchandise, U.S. presidential candidates have tweeted about it, it has entered the debate about the nation’s currency and the show has been referenced on “Saturday Night Live” and “Inside Amy Schumer.”
“Things like ‘Hamilton’ start to give youth a better understanding of just how powerful not just theater but performance art can be and you can do it in different ways and people will love it in different ways,” said Zachary Levi, former star of NBC’s “Chuck” who is starring in the revival of “She Loves Me.”
Thanks to shows like “Hamilton,” Broadway has concluded one of its most diverse seasons, with non-white actors filling shows like “The Color Purple” revival, “On Your Feet!” “Hughie,” “Allegiance,” the reworked “Shuffle Along” and “Eclipsed.”
“There’s a hunger that I don’t know that Broadway producers realized existed,” said Liesl Tommy, who directed “Eclipsed,” a play set in a Liberian rebel camp where four women are held as sexual captives. “The question of access is so important.”
Women, so often underrepresented in creative roles on Broadway, also had reason to cheer. “Waitress” was the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the top creative team spots, and “Eclipsed” was the first show in Broadway history with an entirely female cast and creative team.
But most of the headlines coming from Broadway this year were for “Hamilton.” That sometimes overshadowed some superb performances elsewhere.
Some non-”Hamilton” candidates in the best actor in a musical category are possible for Benjamin Walker from “American Psycho,” Danny Burstein of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Alex Brightman of “School of Rock” and Austin P. McKenzie for “Spring Awakening.”
The best actor in a play category might include Ben Whishaw in “The Crucible,” Tim Pigott-Smith in “King Charles III,” Mark Strong in “A View From the Bridge,” Jeff Daniels of “Blackbird,” Clive Owen in “Old Times,” and James Earl Jones of “The Gin Game.” Al Pacino could get a nod, though the David Mamet play he was in, “China Doll,” was roasted by critics.
Best leading women in a musical could include Cynthia Erivo of “The Color Purple,” Jessie Mueller of “Waitress,” Laura Benanti in “She Loves Me,” Ana Villafane of “On Your Feet!” Audra McDonald of “Shuffle Along,” Lea Salonga in “Allegiance” and Carmen Cusack of “Bright Star.” (Jennifer Hudson is eligible only for best featured actress for “The Color Purple.”)
Best actresses in a play might include Lupita Nyong’o of “Eclipsed,” Laurie Metcalf in “Misery,” Cicely Tyson in “The Gin Game,” Jessica Lange of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and Michelle Williams of “Blackbird.”
The awards will be handed out June 12, with James Corden playing host from the Beacon Theatre.