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Tony Awards: Grownups Break Broadway's Age Barrier

Tony Shalhoub, Glenda Jackson, Denzel Washington and others earn over one-third of 2018's nominations

Actors Tony Shaloub, Glenda Jackson, and Denzel Washington

Amanda Edwards/Getty Images, L Karwai Tang/WireImage, MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

From left: Tony Shalhoub, Glenda Jackson and Denzel Washington

Actors over age 50 took 14 of 39 nominations for Broadway's 2018 Tony Awards, announced May 1. Those likeliest to win on June 10, when Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban host the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, telecast on CBS, include Glenda Jackson, 81, who triumphed in Edward Albee's last masterpiece, Three Tall Women, after 23 years as a Member of Parliament in England; Diana Rigg, 79, or Renee Fleming, 59 (both up for best featured actress in a musical); Tony Shalhoub, 64; Mark Rylance, 58; and Norbert Leo Butz, 51, according to experts on the awards-prediction site Laurie Metcalf, 62, who also earned 2018 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and AARP's Movies for Grownups Award, got her second Tony nomination in two years, and she's apt to win, too. "It's a testament to their enduring talents," says Goldderby Broadway critic David Buchanan.

Grownup talents also cleaned up in the noncompetition honors. Chita Rivera, 85, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, 70, will receive lifetime achievement awards, and special Tony awards will be given to Bruce Springsteen, 68, for his critical and box office hit, Springsteen on Broadway; and John Leguizamo, 53, whose Latin History for Morons is one of five contenders for best play. All the best revival award contenders are (or were) by grownup playwrights: Albee's Three Tall Women, arguably the greatest American play about aging; Tony Kushner's Angels in America; Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh; Tom Stoppard's Travesties; and Lobby Hero, by Kenneth Lonergan, 55, whose Manchester by the Sea won the 2016 Oscar and whose 2018 Howards End is apt to attract Emmy honors.

Photographer Sara Krulwich, who is being awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre, told one reporter that when she started out in her profession as a freshman in college in 1968, her first assignment, covering a football event, required her to get past a sign that read, "No Women, Children or Dogs Allowed on the Field." Last year, most Tony nominees in seven top categories were over 50. The success of Krulwich and others shows that nowadays, grownups are very much allowed on Broadway. (Actors over 50 are highlighted in bold below.)

Best performance by an ...

actor in a leading role in a play

Andrew Garfield, Angels in America 
Tom Hollander, 50, Travesties
Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Mark Rylance, 58, Farinelli and the King
Denzel Washington, 63, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

actress in a leading role in a play

Glenda Jackson, 81, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Condola Rashad, Saint Joan
Lauren Ridloff, Children of a Lesser God
Amy Schumer, Meteor Shower

actor in a leading role in a musical

Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Tony Shalhoub, 64, The Band's Visit
Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

actress in a leading role in a musical

Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady
Hailey Kilgore, Once on This Island
LaChanze, 56, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit
Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls
Jessie Mueller, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

actor in a featured role in a play

Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Michael Cera, Lobby Hero
Brian Tyree Henry, Lobby Hero
Nathan Lane, 62, Angels in America
David Morse, 64, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

actress in a featured role in a play

Susan Brown, 71, Angels in America
Noma Dumezweni, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Deborah Findlay, 71, The Children
Denise Gough, Angels in America
Laurie Metcalf, 62, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women

actor in a featured role in a musical

Norbert Leo Butz, 51, My Fair Lady
Alexander Gemignani, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Grey Henson, Mean Girls
Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Ari'el Stachel, The Band's Visit

actress in a featured role in a musical

Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Renée Fleming, 59, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Ashley Park, Mean Girls
Diana Rigg, 79, My Fair Lady

For a complete list of nominees, go to

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