Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Insanely Early 2014 Tony Predictions: Part I

It's never too early to start discussing Tony Award contenders (at least, not for me).  And since we're in the middle of the winter no man's land between the fall and spring Broadway offerings, now is as good a time as any to look back on the first half of this season on the Great White Way.  Obviously we have a lot of shows left to open, so at this point only those who have made a major impression on the theatre-going community can be considered true Tony contenders.  As I do at the end of each theatre season, I'm going to go through all of the major Tony categories and note which productions and people I think have a real shot at recognition come nomination time. 

WARNING:  Occasional snark and a great deal of speculation to follow.

Best Musical

Smartly written and expertly cast, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is easily the best of the fall's new musical offerings.

There were actually (surprisingly) a fair number of productions eligible for the Best Musical category over the past six months.  Unfortunately, there are also a lot more new musicals on the horizon, and this fall's shows (especially the ones that have closed) stand a good chance of being overshadowed/forgotten come Tony time.  If I were to pick the show with the highest chance of securing a Best Musical nomination, I would go with A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which in addition to being hilarious is one of the smarter book musicals to come around in a long time.  If a second fall show sneaks into this category then the well-reviewed After Midnight has a shot, although it's status as a revue rather than a book show hurts its chances with the sometimes snobby Tony voters.

I personally enjoyed Big Fish, but it was a divisive show and that decreases its chances immensely, especially in the face of the formidable-looking spring line-up.  There's also the off chance that Baby Boomer baiting Beautiful scores a surprise nomination, but despite its rosy box office prospects I think it will ultimately be passed over by the more discerning voters.  A Night with Janis Joplin and First Date are ultimately slight entertainments unlikely to gain any serious awards traction, and if Soul Doctor gets mentioned at all on the Tony telecast it will likely be as the butt of somebody's joke.  I mean, does anyone even remember Soul Doctor happened?  And what is it going to take to get a show that lasts more than a few months into the Circle in the Square?

Best Play

As of right now, this is the weakest this category has been in years.  Most of the plays from the fall were star-driven revivals, with only A Time to Kill and The Snow Geese even eligible for this award.  Both were met with critical and audience indifference, and there are enough interesting-sounding plays scheduled for spring that I suspect both will be shut out of the Tonys.  *If* (and that's a very big "if") one of these plays were to be nominated, it would probably be Sharr White's WWI drama The Snow Geese, but I find that highly unlikely.

Best Musical Revival

In something I consider a celebration, there were no musical revivals on Broadway this fall.  Every tuner that premiered was a new show, so currently this is a wide open race.  There are also only 4 revivals scheduled for the spring, and that's assuming Roundabout's remounting of their Tony-winning Cabaret is even deemed eligible for competition (which I suspect it won't be).  So basically, everyone gets nominated!

Best Play Revival

Did anyone think that a 400-year-old Shakespeare comedy would be one of the critical and commercial smashes of the fall season?  But Mark Rylance and the all-male company have made Twelfth Night must-see, hysterical theatre.

Thanks to the repertory productions that took Broadway by storm, there are already plenty of play revivals eligible for this year's Tonys.  The double bill of Twelfth Night and Richard III in particular has been a box office and critical sensation, and I would be shocked if Twelfth Night wasn't nominated (in fact, at this moment I think it's the likely winner).  And while I personally hated it, most critics and audience members have been over the moon about this latest production of The Glass Menagerie, so I'm going to name it the second sure thing in this category.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see one of the Patrick Steward/Ian McKellan shows nominated (probably Waiting for Godot), although their slot is the most endangered should the spring revivals prove particularly strong and/or popular.  Despite fantastic reviews, the Roundabout's revivals of The Winslow Boy and Machinal lack the star power to be serious contenders, and the producers of the Daniel Craig-led Betrayal will likely have to content themselves with the millions of dollars they made from that sold out but not necessarily well-reviewed production.  Betrayal always had the air of being an event that was separate from rather than a part of the Broadway season, and the competition is simply too strong for even the mighty James Bond to conquer.

That's my take on the production races and where they stand so far.  There of course is always the chance for surprises, but history has taught us that shows which fail to make a major impression in the fall don't stand much chance at Tony love once the spring shows open (especially if the fall shows have shuttered before nominations are announced).  I am also making some of these predictions based on the assumed strength of the spring's offerings, so if that becomes a surprise in either direction (really strong or really weak overall), then things will change as well.

Check back soon for my thoughts on how the acting races are shaping up so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment