Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Tony Predictions: Revival

The big day is fast approaching, and there are only four Tony categories left for me to predict.  The production categories are perhaps the most coveted of all Tony honors, since they recognize the entire show and not just one individual element.  These categories also caused an unusual amount of anticipation when the nominations were announced due to the recently enacted rule change allowing for anywhere between 3 and 5 nominees, depending on the number of eligible productions.  Now that we have our official contenders, it's time to discuss who will win, and whether or not they are the most deserving.

Best Revival of a Play

Stephen Fry and the company of last fall's all-male revival of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Nominees: The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun, Twelfth Night

First, I want to reiterate my surprise that there are only four Best Revival of Play nominees, given the overwhelming number of incredibly well done revivals that premiered during this season.  It's a shame that neither of the Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellan repertory plays made the cut, and that Roundabout's highly regarded productions of little seen plays were also completely excluded.  That said, whether there had been a fifth nominee wouldn't have mattered, because this race has been between The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night since both premiered to critical raves last fall.

To me, the clear choice here is Twelfth Night.  I do not understand the critical praise showered upon The Glass Menagerie; I thought it was one of the worst things I saw last fall, well cast but ultimately ruined by John Tiffany's overly conceptual direction.  Meanwhile, Twelfth Night managed to take a play I've never cared for and make me love it, a feat all the more impressive considering it's one of Shakespeare's most performed comedies.  The gentlemen in the all-male Twelfth Night also acted circles around every other ensemble on Broadway this season, and with the benefit of hindsight on the now closed productions I think enough Tony voters realize Twelfth Night is more worthy of recognition.  I won't rule out a win for Menagerie the way I'm ruling out the pleasant Cripple of Inishmaan and Kenny Leon's acceptable retread of A Raisin in the Sun, but the smart money is on the Bard's comedy.

Will and Should Win:  Twelfth Night
Best Revival of a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris and his onstage band, The Angry Inch.
Nominees:  Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Miserables, Violet

Hedwig and the Angry Inch deserves this one by a mile.  It's the only one of the three nominees I don't have reservations about, and it managed to successfully scale up an intimate show for a big Broadway house.  Neil Patrick Harris is excellent in the title role, and director Michael Mayer has done a fantastic job staging the piece so it is both slick and fluid.  Meanwhile, Violet is a well-intentioned production of what to me is a problematic show, and despite the game actors it doesn't manage to completely overcome the script's structural issues and somewhat clich√© message.  And Les Miserables is just awful, a shameless cash grab prompted by the *very* recent film version that lacks both the spectacle and the heart of the original production.  Despite heroic work by Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, the rest of the cast sings with varying levels of proficiency and almost none of them act their roles with any conviction, making you feel every minute of the show's 3-hour runtime.  I have seen Les Miserables a half-dozen times over the years, and this revival is the first time I've thought the show is too damn long.

I supposed there is a slight chance Les Miserables wins, especially if the out-of-town voters pool their efforts behind it because it will tour better than the other shows (which probably won't tour at all).  But the sheen seems to have already worn off on the musical epic, while Neil Patrick Harris and Hedwig are white hot.  The fact that the latter production is also the most deserving just seals the deal.

Will and Should Win: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Check back soon for my final 2014 Tony predictions, and check out the rest of my awards coverage below!

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

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