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2018 Tony Award nominees include Atlanta ties, special notice for Bruce Springsteen


BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

(This story was originally posted at 12:20 p.m. May 1, 2018)

The Kenny Leon-directed revival of “Children of a Lesser God” didn’t earn any show or director kudos from the Tony Awards committee, but Leon's star won an expected accolade.

Lauren Ridloff, in her debut theater acting role, is nominated for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play for the production, which opened April 11 on Broadway.

Ridloff, who was born deaf, was initially hired to tutor Leon in sign language as he prepared to direct the play. But after noticing her immense presence, she was cast in the role of Sarah Norman, a deaf custodian.

“I’ve been in a room with Viola Davis and Denzel Washington and she has THAT,” Atlanta-based Leon told the New York Times earlier this year.

Also scoring a Tony nod is Brian Tyree Henry, known for playing the wise-cracking, shade-throwing “Paper Boi” on FX’s “Atlanta.” The Morehouse College graduate is nominated for best performance by an actor in a features role in a play for “Lobby Hero.”

Topping the list of Tony Award nominations are Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” (which includes 18-year-old Atlanta native Jai'Len Christine Li Josey in her Broadway debut), each with 12. Following with 11 nods each are “Angels in America,” “The Band’s Visit” and “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel.”

Click here for a full list of nominees.

This year’s Tony Awards will carry a deep interest for music fans.

Bruce Springsteen, currently in the middle of a record-setting Broadway run, will receive a Special Tony Award for his “Springsteen on Broadway” engagement, which has been deemed a “once-in-a-lifetime theatergoing experience for the Broadway stage.”

As well, Sarah Bareilles (“Waitress”) and Josh Groban (“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”) will co-host the show, which airs live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall at 8 p.m. June 10.

Tickets for the Tony Awards can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com beginning May 15.

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About the Author

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta Music Scene and entertainment news for print and online.