Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tony Nominee Predictions: Part I

With the last show of the 2012-2013 Broadway season officially open, we now enter my favorite time of the theatrical year:  Tony season!  To celebrate this joyous occasion, I’m going to be posting a series of articles dedicated to guessing which productions and people will be among this year’s nominees.  We’ll find out how well I did on April 30th (last year I had an 82% success rate), but until then here’s some educated guesses and wild speculation to tide you over.  Enjoy!

Best Musical
Stark Sands (center) and the drag Angels in Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots and Matilda are a lock in this category.  Before either show even opened, it looked as if this year’s Best Musical race would be between Cyndi Lauper’s Broadway debut and the Olivier-winning smash, and so far that is still the case.  That leaves two slots for the season’s six other new musicals to fight over, a fight the critically lambasted Chaplin and Scandalous have no chance of winning.  The short-lived Hands on a Hardbody certainly had its admirers, but they are too few and far between to give it any serious momentum in this year’s awards race. 

If the Tonys were based solely on artistic merit – a novel idea, I know – the remaining two slots would go to Bring It On and A Christmas Story.  Both were highly entertaining pieces of escapist entertainment with well-constructed stories and endearing musical numbers.  Christmas Story in particular had an amazing score by Broadway newcomers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and I think that level of polish will propel it onto the nominees list.  But I think the fourth slot will go to Motown the Musical, as the Tonys have time and again shown favoritism towards commercially viable productions.  Motown is one of the major hits of the spring and a regular member of Broadway’s million dollar club; such financial prowess practically demands recognition by the Tony committee.  Couple in the fact that Bring It On closed what seems like eons ago, and Motown has the clear edge.

A Christmas Story
Kinky Boots
Motown the Musical
Runner-Up:  Bring It On

Best Play

Jessica Hetch and Judith Light star in Manhattan Theatre Club's The Assembled Parties

The big question in the Best Play race is how seriously Tony voters will take the glut of one person shows that have opened this season.  Most of the solo outings have featured celebrities playing people other than themselves, so they would technically qualify, but I think the traditionally-minded Tony committee will shy away from honoring any of them with production nominations.

Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Other Place and The Assembled Parties, however, are exactly the kind of plays the Tonys like to recognize.  High-minded affairs from a prestigious non-profit, both works received glowing reviews and are the closest thing to sure bets in this category.  And the overwhelming amount of goodwill towards the late Nora Ephron practically guarantees her Lucky Guy is announced with the rest of the nominees come Tuesday morning.  As for the final slot, it’s something of a toss-up between Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike and Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance.  I’m going to give Durang the edge here, as his play is seen as a welcomed return to form whereas Beane’s burlesque comedy is viewed more as an excellent Nathan Lane vehicle rather than a strong show in its own right.

The Assembled Parties
Lucky Guy
The Other Place
Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike
Runner-Up:  The Nance

Best Revival of a Musical

Matthew James Thomas and the company of the Diane Paulus helmed Pippin

There are two things we can be certain of in this category:  that Diane Paulus’ circus-inspired Pippin will be among the nominees, and that the critically reviled Jekyll & Hyde will be completely ignored.  Now, since currently running shows with mass road appeal tend to have an edge among Tony voters, I think we can safely add both Annie (which was fairly good) and Cinderella (which was fairly awful) to the list of nominees.  That leaves one slot left for Elf and The Mystery of Edwin Drood to fight over, and since the theatrical community could barely muster up enthusiasm for Elf during the two months it ran I doubt Tony voters will honor it with a nomination.  Drood, on the other hand, was far better than any production of such awful material deserved to be, and therefore earns its place among the Best Musical Revival nominees.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Runner-Up:  Elf (but who are we kidding, it doesn’t have a chance)

Best Revival of a Play

Tracy Letts as George and Amy Morton as Martha in the latest Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

This is the one production category where I don’t think being a currently running show is going to make much of a difference.  If Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Who’sAfraid of Virginia Woolf? doesn’t get nominated then we should just consider this entire year’s nominations null and void, as such an omission would be a clear sign of insanity on the committee’s part.  And as I can’t recall one negative word being spoken about Golden Boy, I think it’s a lock as well.

With five play revivals this season, simple probability says that Roundabout practically has to score one nomination, and I think it will be for The Trip to Bountiful. Besides being their most recent production, it has a high-profile cast led by a Hollywood legend that received very good reviews, and the New York theatre community has been particularly enamored with playwright Horton Foote as of late.  The final slot is difficult to predict, but I’m going to rule out Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Glengarry Glen Ross for essentially the same reason:  they were poorly received productions that did not represent their Tony-winning headliners’ best work.  Orphans opened to similarly indifferent reviews, and is therefore also out of contention.  That leaves Macbeth and The Heiress as the only real contenders, and I think the latter has the edge.  While most critics loved Alan Cumming, they also felt his bravura turn overshadowed Shakespeare’s text, whereas people were generally pleased with the Victorian-set drama as a whole.

*Note:  Because this is my blog and I get to make the rules, I’m going to say should Roundabout manage two nominations in this category their well-reviewed take on Cyrano de Bergerac is next in line.*

Golden Boy
The Heiress
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Runners-Up:  Cyrano de Bergerac, Macbeth

Be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of my nomination predictions, and once the official nominees are announced on Tuesday look for my personal reactions and the beginning of a month’s worth of speculation!

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