La Jolla Playhouse-bred shows earn key Tony nominations

Two La Jolla Playhouse-bred shows will be right in the mix for the 2017 Tony Awards.

The nominations for the top annual Broadway theater honors were announced today, and “Come From Away” was named in seven categories, including best musical.

“Indecent” earned three nominations, including best play.

Both shows premiered at the Playhouse in 2015 (“Indecent” in association with Yale Rep). Each production also earned a best-director nod: “Come From Away” for Playhouse artistic chief Christopher Ashley, and “Indecent” for Rebecca Taichman, a frequent San Diego presence.

The musical “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” was the surprise leader of the field announced in New York this morning, landing 12 nominations. The show is the Broadway version of a groundbreaking “immersive” piece that was a hit off-Broadway several years ago.

Behind “Natasha” were the latest revival of “Hello, Dolly!” starring Bette Midler (who earned a best-actress nod), with 10; the new musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” nine; and the play “A Doll’s House, Part 2”, eight.

The movie-based musical “Groundhog Day” and the play “Oslo” both tied “Come From Away” with seven nominations; and “August Wilson’s Jitney” and “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” each had six.

In the best-musical category, “Come From Away” will be one of only four shows (although Tonys organizers had the option of adding a fifth): “Natasha,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Groundhog Day.”

“Come From Away” is based on the real-life saga of how the tiny Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland, took in and comforted thousands of stranded air passengers on 9/11.

“Indecent” will compete with “Doll’s House,” “Oslo” and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat” for best play.

The work by Paula Vogel is built around the creation of, and controversies surrounding, the landmark Sholem Asch play “The God of Vengeance.”

In an emailed comment, the Playhouse’s Ashley said: "I am overjoyed to see not one but two La Jolla Playhouse productions receive this incredible national recognition. Both David Hein and Irene Sankoff’s musical ‘Come From Away’ and Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman's play ‘Indecent’ speak passionately and eloquently to the issues of this very moment in history, and both perfectly exemplify the Playhouse’s commitment to new play development.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our production teams and staff, who helped create and support these new works here in San Diego and propel them to continued life on Broadway.”

Besides best musical and direction, nominations for “Come From Away” included featured actress/musical (Jenn Colella), book and original score (Irene Sankoff and David Hein), lighting (Howell Binkley) and choreography (Kelly Devine).

“Indecent” was nominated for lighting (Christopher Akerlind) in addition to best play and direction.

Besides Midler, other familiar acting names were prominent in the mix, including Kevin Kline (“Present Laughter”), Cate Blanchett (“The Present”), Sally Field (“The Glass Menagerie”), Laura Linney (“Little Foxes”), David Hyde Pierce (“Hello, Dolly!”), Danny DeVito (“Arthur Miller’s The Price”), Patti LuPone (“War Paint”), Nathan Lane (“The Front Page”), Richard Thomas (“Little Foxes”) and first-timer Josh Groban (“Natasha”).

The Tony Awards ceremony, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, takes place June 11 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, hosted by Kevin Spacey.

Twitter: @jimhebert

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