Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Tony Predictions: Best Featured Actress

In my last post we discussed the supporting men, and today we discuss the supporting women who are up for Tony Awards in just a couple weeks' time.  Predicting these two categories will be tough, as both races are pretty wide open at the moment.  And then you have to take into account that the actress who should win is not always the person who will when, which throws another wrench into any sort of speculation.  But I am nothing if not persistent, so read on to see my best guesses for this year's big winners.

Best Featured Actress in a Play

The always charming Celia Keenan-Bolger was ideally cast as Laura in The Glass Menagerie, even if director John Tiffany let her down with some of his more bizarre choices.
Nominees: Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan; Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie; Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun; Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun; Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina

Many deserving women are nominated in this category, but at the same time there aren't any that seem to demand Tony recognition.  The Cripple of Inishmann, despite positive reviews and the presence of Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, has proven to be a bit of a non-event in terms of box office and awards potential.  That will hurt Sarah Greene's chances, along with the fact that her character comes across as a tad two-dimensional due to the broad nature of playwright Martin McDonagh's script.  A Raisin in the Sun's Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose will likely cancel one another out, with the final nail in the coffin being the lukewarm critical reception to that revival in general.  Okonedo is not entirely out of the picture, although she does face the significant handicap of playing the same role Audra McDonald inhabited to Tony-winning effect only 10 years ago.

Mare Winningham of Casa Valentina has been this season's stealth awards contender.  She didn't receive a lot of attention when the Harvey Fierstein dramedy opened last month, but has been a regular fixture on Best Supporting Actress lists and won the Outer Critics Circle Award for her work in the show.  She is probably Celia Keenan-Bolger's biggest competition, although the latter drew universal praise for her lonely, damaged Laura in last fall's The Glass Menagerie.  This is Keenan-Bolger's 3rd career nomination, and she still has a lot of goodwill left from her equally praised turn in Peter and the Starcatcher 2 years ago, which only increases her chances of finally winning.  I'm going to give the slightest of edges to Keenan-Bolger, but she and Winningham are so neck and neck that this is almost too close to call.

Should Win:  Toss-up between Mare Winningham (Casa Valentina) and Celie Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie)
Will Win:  Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie                                                                     
Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Ingenues are deceptively simply roles to play.  With the wrong actress, they become boring or even worse, obnoxious.  Thankfully Lauren Worsham manages to avoid both of those pitfalls while looking absolutely *fabulous* in her Edwardian hat.
Nominees: Linda Emond, Cabaret; Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Adriane Lenox, After Midnight; Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

This is certainly an eclectic group of nominees.  Lena Hall does a lot with very little in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but in this case I think the nomination is the win, and would be very surprised if she was actually called up to the podium on June 8th.  Adriane Lenox is the only previous winner in this group, and although she nails her two big numbers in After Midnight I suspect Tony voters will opt to spread the wealth.  And Anika Larsen is a complete wildcard; despite Beautiful's clutch of nominations I don't consider it to be a serious contender for most awards, but the sheer number of nominations for a show with such a small amount of buzz (despite steadily strong box office) means it must have impressed a lot of people.  Larsen may reap the benefits of that love, especially since Beautiful's subject matter allows her to do more serious "Acting" than many of the nominees in this category.  (Even in musicals, there's the usual awards bias towards dramatic roles, even if it is less pronounced than in plays or film.)

Linda Emond probably deserved to win for her long-suffering wife in the Phillip Seymour Hoffman-led Death of a Salesman (writing these predictions, I'm realizing just how much I disagree with the way the 2012 Tony Awards turned out).  Although I haven't personally seen the show yet, I'm sure Emond is excellent in Roundabout's resurrected Cabaret, but the Tony committee's distaste for that production is probably her biggest stumbling block.  Which leaves us with newcomer Lauren Worsham, who is making a sensational Broadway debut in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.  Like 2011 winner Nikki M. James, Worsham plays the reliably winsome ingĂ©nue in a comedy dominated by two hilarious men, and like James, I think Worsham's ability to turn a potentially boring part into a fully formed, believable character will net her Tony gold this year.

Should Win:  Linda Emond, Cabaret
Will Win:  Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

That takes us through all of the Featured categories; check back soon for my predictions for Best Actor and Actress.  And in the interim, check out the rest of my 2014 Tony Awards coverage below!

2014 Tony Nominations React
Best Direction and Choreography
Best Book and Score
Best Featured Actor

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