The Tony Award Nominations are out, and there is a long list of Broadway newcomers to celebrate in addition to the many wonderful returning Broadway stars. Hugh Jackman, who is returning to host this year following the several year-stint by Neil Patrick Harris, will host the awards, which airs on CBS on Sunday, June 8. This year, there are a lot of new faces on the list of nominees, making this an exciting year to cheer on the underdogs, as these newbies are nominated among names like Neil Patrick Harris, Bryan Cranston, Tyne Daly and Audra McDonald. Here is a quick look at six of these new faces to the Tony Nominee list.
Chris O’Dowd is making his Broadway debut in the latest revival of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” While O’Dowd is new to Broadway, you may recognize him from some of his well-known roles on television in shows like “The IT Crowd,” “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Girls,” or from his performance in the smash hit movie “Bridesmaids.” Currently, O’Dowd is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for “Of Mice and Men,” where he takes the classic role of Lennie opposite James Franco as George. O’Dowd was born in Ireland and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, however he’s been a working actor in the United States since 2003. This handsome and charismatic actor is an exciting addition to the Broadway stage, and his many fans are ready to cheer him for this year’s Tony Awards.
You may not know the name Ramin Karimloo, but you soon will. This Iranian-born actor has been working on London’s West End for years, receiving critical acclaim for his performances as Jean Valjean, Enjolras and Marius in “Les Miserables,” as well as his takes on both the Phantom and Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera.” However, he is finally landing on the Broadway stage for his debut in the United States as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.” For his first United States appearance, he’s been nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, which just goes to show how tremendous and accomplished this man truly is. He is another rising star to be on the lookout for.
Sarah Greene is no stranger to the stage. She was a much-lauded performer in Dublin with shows like “Alice in Funderland,” “Peer Gynt” and “Ellemenope Jones” on her resume. However, it’s her Broadway debut in “The Cripple of Inishmaan” as Helen McCormick opposite Daniel Radcliffe and Ingrid Craigie that has been drawing a lot of recent press. Greene’s nomination this year for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play is her first Tony nomination. It’s a much deserved honor, as her performance is incredibly strong and very worthy of the praise.
Another actress making her Broadway debut, Sophie Okonedo is hitting the Great White Way by storm. Okonedo is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for her take on Ruth Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun.” While this is her first role on Broadway, fans may recognize her for her Academy Award-nominated performance in 2004’s “Hotel Rwanda” or her Golden Globe-nominated role in “Tsunami: The Aftermath.” It’s high praise indeed for Okonedo to be nominated for her debut on Broadway, especially when she is working along side names like Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson.
Lena Hall is no stranger to Broadway, but she is finally receiving some of the accolades she deserves. Hall has appeared on Broadway in several hits, including last year’s Tony-winning “Kinky Boots” as well as “Tarzan” and “42nd Street.” Music fans may know her as the lead singer for the band The Deafening, but Broadway fans are loving her as Yitzhak in the Broadway production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” staring the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris. Hall is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, something this actress has richly deserved for quite some time.
James Monroe Iglehart
Another actor that is certainly no stranger to Broadway but is finally getting some much-deserved recognition is James Monroe Iglehart. His resume includes taking on the role of Bobby in “Memphis” and Mitch Mahoney in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” However, it’s his take on a role originally made famous by Robin Williams that has landed Iglehart on the nominees list. Iglehart is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his take on the famous Genie in Disney’s newest musical adaptation, “Aladdin.” He’s a wonderful fit for the role, truly making it his own, while stepping in to some very large shoes. Iglehart is one actor that many people will be cheering on during this year’s Tony Awards.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.