Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 Tony Predictions: Best Featured Actor

The Tony Awards are only two weeks away, and I have a lot more predictions to make.  So without further ado, here are my picks for who will win the Best Featured Actor statuettes (along with my personal opinions as to who actually deserves them).

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Tony Shalhoub (right) in Lincoln Center Theatre's revival of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy

Nominees:  Danny Burnstein, Golden Boy; Richard Kind, The Big Knife; Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy; Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

These predictions are brought to you by 100% Guesswork, as I have not seen any of the nominated performances.  That said I’m going to rule out Vanya and Sonia’s Billy Magnussen, given the Tonys’ habit of overlooking entirely comedic performances.  Magnussen’s Spike is reportedly dumb as a brick, and while actors can appreciate just how difficult playing a compelling idiot is, the rest of the Tony voters will likely underestimate the amount of work going into his performance when compared to the more overtly dramatic nature of his competitors. 

After years of work in regional productions and as a replacement in high profile Broadway comedies, Richard Kind is being recognized for his more serious work in The Big Knife, but given that he is the show’s sole nominee I doubt it culminates in an actual win.  And while the Tony committee is certainly high on Nora Ephron’s final play, the fact that Lucky Guy is raking in the dough is unlikely to propel Courtney B. Vance to the Tony podium.  The amount of praise directed at Lucky Guy has certainly dimmed in the two months since its opening, and while the play is well-liked I think the majority of voters no longer feel it is award-worthy.

That leaves us with a two way race between the rapturously reviewed Golden Boy’s Danny Burnstein and Tony Shalhoub.  Burnstein is an incredible actor who commands a lot of admiration among his peers, but despite three prior nominations the dependable character actor has thus far failed to actually win a Tony.  You could argue the committee owes him one after overlooking his revelatory work as Buddy in last season’s Follies, but that injustice is actually what leads me to bet on Shalhoub taking home the big prize.  If Burnstein couldn’t win for Follies, the chances of him beating out a three-time Emmy winner are slim, and by all accounts Shalhoub so completely disappeared into his role as the protagonist’s father that begrudging him a win seems petty.

Should Win:  Danny Burnstein, Golden Boy (because at this point, he’s earned it)
Will Win:  Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Terrance Mann and his real-life wife, Charlotte d'Amboise, hamming it up as the conniving parents of Pippin's title character.

Nominees:  Charl Brown, Motown the Musical; Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody; Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood; Gabriel Ebert, Matilda the Musical; Terrance Mann, Pippin

I’m a little more familiar with the nominated work in this category, but that doesn’t necessarily make predicting things any easier.  Since Motown the Musical couldn’t leverage its massive box office into a Best Musical nomination despite the Tonys’ well-document favoritism of commercially viable shows, I don’t think Charl Brown has much of a chance.  This is not to imply Brown is bad; it’s merely a reflection of the fact that if you’re in a show people don’t like, winning awards is an uphill battle no matter how good the work.  Both Keith Carradine and Will Chase did fine work in their respective shows, but neither performance screamed Tony-worthy, and the fact that both productions are now closed is a major obstacle to their winning.

I believe the frontrunners for this prize are Gabriel Ebert and Terrance Mann, who have the advantage of appearing in two of the most critically lauded musicals of the season.  While I have not personally seen Ebert’s work in Matilda (the damn show is sold out for the foreseeable future), I’m sure the role of Matilda’s father provides the actor with plenty of scenery-chewing opportunities.  But as I mentioned with Lauren Ward in my Featured Actress predictions, for whatever reason the cast of Matilda seldom gets mentioned as a driving factor behind the show’s success, which may put Ebert at a disadvantage.  Terrance Mann is doing pitch-perfect work in Pippin, managing to stand out among the enormous amount of spectacle and talent onstage at the Music Box Theatre.  In addition, Mann’s long and respected career on Broadway has yet to net the veteran actor a Tony Award, something which may sway undecided voters in Mann’s favor.  And Pippin itself has been doing quite well in the various theatrical award races, which can only increase Mann’s chances; in fact, I think it pushes him over the top.

Will and Should Win:  Terrance Mann, Pippin

There are only eight of the Big 12 categories left to predict (Best Actor/Actress and the production awards), so check back soon for more insight into how I expect those races to shape up.  Until then, you can catch up on all of my previous predictions by clicking the links below:

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