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Tony Award Nominations: Madison Dirks was robbed

Madison Dirks in all his glory in Who's Afraid of Viriginia Woolf?

Madison Dirks in all his glory in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I was really looking forward to the Tony announcements this week. But now I have a broken heart.

Madison Dirks was royally snubbed.

Not a household name yet, but give him time. Madison Dirks gave a great performance on Broadway this past season in a stellar production of Edward Albee’s American classic, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

He should have been nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, but he wasn’t.

Woolf received five Tony nominations. Three of the four cast members got nods: Amy Morton for lead actress in a play, Tracy Letts for lead actor, and Carrie Coon for featured actress. There were also nominations for best revival of a play and for director Pam McKinnon. Dirks was the odd man out.

How would you like to be on a winning team where everyone got a pat on the back and congratulations for doing a great job, except you?

This was a production of Woolf for the ages. Everyone loved it, even the sometimes catty armchair critics on BroadwayWorld.com. And what did professional critics have to say about the show and Mr. Dirks? A few snippets:

My daughter Katie and Madison Dirks after a performance of Woolf on Broadway.

My daughter Katie and Madison Dirks after a performance of Woolf on Broadway.

A shattering revival… the exhilaration of a fresh encounter with a great work of theater revitalized anew. Nick and Honey, hapless partners in George and Martha’s dark dance, are brought to vivid life by Madison Dirks and Carrie Coon. —The New York Times

The revival… doesn’t have household names on the marquee (except Albee’s). But who needs them? The production is powerful, revealing and as painful as a fresh wound. Dirks and Coon, two Broadway first-timers, lend terrific support. He gives a layered performance that reveals the troubled personality behind Nick’s good looks. —N.Y. Daily News

An astonishing production… Nick, played with arrogance and predatory zeal by Madison Dirks…  —Mark Kennedy, Associate Press

So why did three cast members get Tony nominations but not Madison Dirks? Let’s try to figure this out.

Is the character important to the play?
Yes. Pivotal. There are only four characters in three long acts. Dirks’ character Nick, a biology professor who aspires to climb the food chain, is onstage most of the time and has significant interaction with the other three characters.

As portrayed by Madison Dirks, Nick undergoes a major emotional transformation. He enters brashly arrogant and sure of himself, and leaves broken and humiliated. Painfully devolving from sexy stud to houseboy.

Was the show’s timing a problem?
The play opened in the fall for a limited run and closed in March. Some believe the timing hurt Dirks because the play wasn’t fresh in Tony voters’ minds. That may be so, but the other three actors were remembered.

Were the other nominees just better?
The other featured actor nominees are Danny Burstein and Tony Shalhoub for Golden Boy, Richard Kind for The Big Knife, and Courtney B. Vance for The Lucky Guy. I didn’t see those shows so I don’t know.

But this wasn’t my first Woolf-riding rodeo. I saw the 1976 Broadway production with Colleen Dewhurst braying her way across the stage, and the 2005 revival with Kathleen Turner as an indomitable force. The movie featured a go-for-the-throat Elizabeth Taylor and superb mess Sandy Dennis. I’ve seen countless community theater and theatrical productions. I like Woolf. A lot.

But the Martha character clearly dominated those productions. Not this time. This time the audience got more. We got a team effort, where everyone did yeoman’s work.

Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Carrie Coon, and Madison Dirks were all exemplary. Tony’s omission of Madison Dirks is just sad, sad, sad.


Twitter exchange with Madison Dirks. He’s a gentleman to boot.

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One thought on “Tony Award Nominations: Madison Dirks was robbed

  1. Pingback: Tony nominations: Déjà vu all over again | Expect the Unexpected

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