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Daniel Radcliffe won’t be competing against his Merrily We Roll Along Broadway co-star Jonathan Groff for a Tony Award next June, and the reason has nothing to do with performance quality: The awards administration committee ruled today that Radcliffe will be eligible in the featured performer category, apparently leaving the lead category to Groff.
Lindsay Mendez, who plays Mary Flynn, the musical’s most prominent female character, will, like Radcliffe, who plays Charley Kringas, be eligible in the featured slot (the Tony’s equivalent to Oscar’s “supporting” categories).
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While Groff’s character of Franklin Shepard has traditionally been considered the main character of the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, this year’s hit Maria Friedman-directed revival included the three stars’ names above the title, leaving some wiggle room with regard to the category decisions.
Indeed, audience members might be hard-pressed to decide which actor goes where: While Merrily‘s plot more or less revolves around the trajectory of Groff’s Franklin, the trio of characters/performers far more often than not share the stage, and, in this revival anyway, Radcliffe, as the idealistic Charley, delivers one of the night’s biggest showstoppers: The rapid-fire, comically bitter “Franklin Shepard, Inc.”
And precedence won’t help: The original 1981 production of Merrily We Roll Along received only one Tony nomination, for Sondheim’s score (he lost to Nine composer Maury Yeston). Merrily, a flop among critics and audiences at the time, has grown in stature considerably in the ensuing decades, with the revival now one of the biggest hits and money-makers on Broadway.
The Radcliffe-Mendez eligibility questions were settled today with the first round of determinations made by the administration committee. Such determinations typically address category issues regarding performers, whether a show falls into an original or revival category, and, increasingly in recent years, where to place projection designers.
While producers and performers can offer input and opinions, the ultimate decision on eligibility is made by the Tony’s administration committee. Today’s announcement did not reveal whether Merrily producers or cast made specific requests. Deadline has reached out to a show spokesperson for comment.
The Tony Awards eligibility cut-off date for the 2023-2024 season is Thursday, April 25, 2024. Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, with the 77th Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, set for broadcast live from The David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, June 16, 2024.
Other eligibility determinations announced today include:
Briga Heelan and Justin Guarini will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress/Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical categories for their respective performances in Once Upon a One More Time;
Anna Fleischle and Sven Ortel will be considered jointly eligible in the Best Scenic Design of a Musical category for their work on Once Upon a One More Time;
Arielle Jacobs will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical category for her performance in Here Lies Love;
Eric McCormack and Laura Bell Bundy will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Leading Role in a Play categories for their respective performances in The Cottage;
Casey Likes will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical category for his performance in Back to the Future: The Musical;
Tim Hatley and Finn Ross will be considered jointly eligible in the Best Scenic Design of a Musical category for their work on Back to the Future: The Musical;
Duncan Henderson and Nina Dunn for PixelLux will be considered jointly eligible in the Best Scenic Design of a Play category for their work on The Shark is Broken
Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella will be considered jointly eligible in the Best Sound Design of a Play category for their work on Jaja’s African Hair Braiding.
All other eligibility will be consistent with opening night credits.
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