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Tony nominations 2015: Seven snubs and surprises

Jake Gyllenhaal and Glenn Close were among the actors snubbed by the Tony Awards nominations

Sure, “An American in Paris” and “Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2.” “Fun Home” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”? No doubt.

There were a number of pre-announcement favorites that scored when Tony nominations were revealed Tuesday morning.

But there were also eyebrow-raisers and head-scratchers among the choices made by the Tonys' approximately 40 nominators.

Which contenders could have been on the list but weren’t? And which somehow made it on? We break down seven snubs and surprises from theater’s (second)-biggest day.

DISCUSS: Theater critic Charles McNulty fields your questions

1. Theater voters tend to love theater about theater — witness the 10 nominations for the ode-to-musicals “Something Rotten!” on Tuesday. So it was thought “It's Only a Play” would be a slam dunk for best revival of a play. After all, the Terrence McNally work  is all about a company nervously waiting its first reviews. This staging was a hit, and it featured a favored duo in Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

Yet the show was missing from the best revival of a play nominees. In fact, "Play" landed just one of any kind, for featured actor Micah Stock. (McNally fared better with his other entry in this year's race, "The Visit.") Surprisingly making the cut for best revival of a play instead of "Play"? “This Is Our Youth,” Kenneth Lonergan’s piece about disaffected youth in 1980s-era America. The production landed only one Tony nomination too, but it was the big one.

2.  Nominators apparently really didn't care much for Sting’s “The Last Ship” and “Honeymoon in Vegas," based on the movie. There was similarly no love for “It Shoulda Been You” the culture-clash musical that came into the season with high hopes, given that Tyne Daly stars and David Hyde Pierce is the director. The short list for musical -- widely regarded as the top Tony -- featured the four contenders most pundits thought would be on ("An American in Paris," Fun Home," "Something Rotten!" and "The Visit.") The fact there were just four nominations was telling -- it meant that no other show even got close to those choices: A rule enacted last year triggered a fifth slot if voting was tight.

3. Every year a big name, often with some movie cred, makes a well-regarded Broadway appearance — and promptly is left off the Tony list. A couple of years back it was Bette Midler in “I’ll Eat You Last.” This year the dubious honor goes to Jake Gyllenhaal, who followed his snub from the Oscars this year with one from the Tonys. Gyllenhaal was praised for his turn as a beekeeper in Nick Payne's two-hander play “Constellations,” and costar Ruth Wilson was nominated for lead actress. But Gyllenhaal was omitted from lead actor. Fans of movie-world crossover should note that Bradley Cooper made the cut for his turn as John Merrick in "The Elephant Man."

4. Leading actress in a play was always going to feature a lot of boldfaced names — Helen Mirren once again playing the current Queen of England in “The Audience,” Carey Mulligan in David Hare's “Skylight” and Wilson as a theoretical physicist in “Constellations." All three landed nominations. But coming into the day, it was unclear who would fill out the list. Glenn Close, who has won three Tonys, stood a good chance for her role as the anxious Agnes in the revival of Edward Albee's “A Delicate Balance.” At the other end of the spectrum, Elisabeth Moss was thought a longer shot  for her reprisal of the lead role in “The Heidi Chronicles,” a tepidly received revival that is closing early.  

Yet nominators really liked Moss, or maybe they are big “Mad Men” fans: Moss was in and Close out when the nominations were read. There was actually a fifth slot for Close to snag — but instead it went to Geneva Carr, making her Broadway debut as a repressed teacher of a church puppetry class in “Hand to God.”

5. Speaking of “Hand to God,” Robert Askins' show filled with sex, puppetry and a devilishly irreligious message was thought to be polarizing from the minute it made the transfer from Off-Broadway this spring. Yet the production was a big winner Tuesday, picking up five nominations, including best play, best director and acting noms for three of its principals (they include Steven Boyer, playing the shy-man-turned-Satanic-nihilist lead). It was a choice sure to satisfy people who love edgy theater or offbeat nominee names: "Hand to God's" director is one Moritz von Stuelpnagel.

6. "Finding Neverland" was always a bubble candidate, what with some weak reviews and a more commercially crowd-pleasing air about it. But the J.M Barrie musical, Harvey Weinstein's debut as a creative producer, was thought at least to have a shot at a musical slot, especially with Tony favorite Diane Paulus in the director’s seat. If not, Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer were thought likely to land acting nominations. Yet "Neverland" did not pick up not a single nomination— not for any technical categories, and not even for acting, as longer shots Ken Watanabe (“The King and I”) and  Brandon Uranowitz (“An American in Paris”) filled out the acting slates.

7. On the subject of musical snubs, another production with bright prospects was “Side Show,” the well-regarded Bill Condon-directed revival about conjoined twins that was seen at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2013. Revival was a thin category, and both halves of its lead character(s) -- Erin Davie and Emily Padgett — were considered strong performers. Yet neither made the cut, and the show didn’t either, as nominators chose just three musical revival candidates instead of four. Sometimes Tony tastemakers choose not to split the baby.

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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