NEW YORK -- The Tony nominations announcement Tuesday morning brought good news to Christopher Durang’s dysfunctional-family tale "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" and the late Nora Ephron's period journalism weepie "Lucky Guy" with the two productions nabbing six nominations apiece.
In addition to a raft of acting and other nominations, both were nominated for best play, along with Richard Greenberg's "The Assembled Parties" and "The Testament of Mary" by Colm Toibin.
"Vanya and Sonia" is considered among the front-runners. The dark comedy about siblings in rural Pennsylvania landed on Broadway in March, transferring from Lincoln Center, where it opened in the fall. The production also saw four actors garner Tony noms.
Vying for the best play prize against “Vanya and Sonia” will be Ephron’s last work, which stars Tom Hanks as the late New York newspaper reporter Mike McAlary. Hanks also was nominated for lead actor in a play.
Greenberg's “The Assembled Parties,” about a wealthy New York family, was considered a likely contender for the best play prize as it took a slot Tuesday morning. But "The Testament of Mary," novelist Toibin's expansion of his own book that imagines the thoughts and feelings of the biblical figure, was something of a surprise; the newly opened show had received mixed reviews and was not on some forecasters' lists.
Overlooked in the category was Douglas Carter Beane's “The Nance,” which stars Nathan Lane as a gay comic in a burlesque revue in the 1930s, and which many forecasters had pegged for a slot.
Notably, all four of the nominees opened on Broadway within the last two months, underscoring a fall season that was thin on new work.
On the revival side, the Tony shortlist for play includes a mix of 20th century classics. Among the nominees are “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” "Orphans," "Golden Boy" and "The Trip to Bountiful."
"Woolf," the Steppenwolf Theatre transfer of Edward Albee’s midcentury piece, has Tracy Letts and Amy Morton starring in the drama about a sharp-tongued New England couple having it out with themselves and another couple over the course of one brutal evening.
The newly opened "The Trip to Bountiful" stars Cicely Tyson in the Horton Foote play set in the 1950s.
A new go-round of Clifford Odets' 1937 boxing drama, "Golden Boy," fills out the list.
"Orphans" was perhaps the biggest surprise on the list. The Lyle Kessler show about two brothers in a dilapidated house in Philadelphia had previously gained much of its notoriety because of backstage drama, as star Shia LaBeouf was replaced by Ben Foster.
Not landing a spot on the play-revival list was last fall's star-laden "Glengarry Glen Ross," which saw Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale take on the David Mamet staple.