Los Angeles Times

Tony Award nominations reflect an anemic year for original ideas. Here's a critic's take on the bright spots

Tony Award nominations can be read as Broadway's lab results, and it's clear from the slate announced Tuesday that the patient's health has taken a turn for the worse.

The two big categories, best play and best musical, are not exactly throbbing with competition. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," the two-part juggernaut from London, appears to have inhibited the field.

This towering epic, written by Jack Thorne from an original story by J.K. Rowling, Thorne and director John Tiffany, is the only new play that has opened on Broadway since "John Lithgow: Stories by Heart" in January. And I'm not completely convinced that "Stories," a showcase for Lithgow that played at the Mark Taper Forum in 2011, even qualifies as a proper drama.

"Stories" wasn't nominated, but "Farinelli and the King," another limited-run acting vehicle, this one for the

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