Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Extremely Early 2016 Tony Predictions: Part I

The Christmas decorations are packed away, we're beginning to see which New Year's resolutions are actually going to stick, and the weather has become decidedly cold and snowy. It is definitely late January in New York City, which means we're just over halfway through the 2015-2016 Broadway season. As has become tradition here at Broadway Etc., I am once again taking stock of the new crop of fall shows to see which ones are in the best position to be remembered when the Tony Award nominations are announced on May 3rd.

As always, handicapping the Tony Awards in an inexact science, but based on some historical trends along with good old fashioned gut instinct I'm ready to make some predictions. Of course, anything can happen depending on how well or poorly the spring shows are received, but here's my take on how things stand so far.

Best Musical

Thomas Jefferson's (Daveed Diggs) coming the Tony Awards.

I know it's early in the season and there are a *lot* of new musicals scheduled to open in the spring, but I think it's safe to call this category for Hamilton. It is easily the most important musical of the 21st century, and I honestly believe future generations will talk about this show the same way we talk about groundbreaking works like A Chorus Line and Rent. It's also just really fucking good, a near perfect fusion of writing, direction, and performances that has floored everyone who's been lucky enough to snag a ticket. As for what other shows will be competing against Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop juggernaut, at this point only On Your Feet and School of Rock seem to be viable contenders. Whether either makes the cut largely depends on whether the Tony committee ends up selecting four or five Best Musical nominees, as the spring musicals would have to be rather disappointing to not account for at least half of this category. I will give the slight edge to Andrew Lloyd Webber's return to form with School of Rock, as a lot of critics seemed skeptical of their enjoyment of On Your Feet, but regardless of what happens I expect a healthy Broadway and regional life for both productions.

Best Play

The (future) Royal Family, as portrayed in British import King Charles III.

This fall has been fantastic for everything except new plays on Broadway. Of the five eligible productions, only British import King Charles III received the kind of critical accolades that will help Tony voters remember it come May (all of the fall plays will be closed by the time Tony nominations are announced). At this point China Doll and Misery are best known for the shortcomings of their famous headliners - both of whom are rumored to be getting line prompts via earpiece - than for the quality of their scripts, and Our Mother's Brief Affair has been met with the kind of muted enthusiasm that often greets Manhattan Theatre Club productions. The fact that Roundabout's divisive Therese Raquin is even a possibility speaks to the uncompetitive nature of the fall plays, but I suspect King Charles is the only we'll actually be talking about come Tony Tuesday.

Best Revival of a Musical

The Color Purple headliners Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson are blowing the roof off that theatre nightly.

This has already been an amazing season for musical revivals, and in my opinion every one thus far has been at least nomination worthy. That said, unless something goes horribly wrong I have to imagine that Roundabout's spring revival of She Loves Me makes the cut, and if Shuffle Along is ruled a revival then it stands a strong chance of getting one of the four Best Musical Revival nominations (there aren't enough eligible productions to allow for the addition of a fifth nominee). John Doyle's sensational striped down production of The Color Purple is the safest bet for inclusion in the category, and at this point looks likely to take the whole thing. Bartlett Sher also seems to have a standing invitation to the Tony Awards, and regardless of what you think about the modern dress framing device he added to Fiddler on the Roof the rest of the production is so well done I can't imagine it being left out. At this point, there's a legitimate chance that Deaf West's highly effective Spring Awakening gets ignored to make room for Shuffle Along (the latter's producers are pushing hard for a revival classification), and that seems almost criminal. This is the most competitive by far of the production categories, and is almost certain to result in at least one legitimate snub.

Best Revival of a Play

There's no stronger critical catnip than British actors digging into a meaty drama, as the ecstatic reception of this season's A View from the Bridge proves.

This is the category that tends to change the least between the fall and the spring, as most of the eligible productions are limited runs that have opened and closed by the time winter rolls around. From the fall crop of play revivals, I would say two are almost guaranteed to be among this year's Tony nominees: the critically lauded A View from the Bridge and Noises Off. Should a third play from the fall make the cut, it's a toss up between Fool for Love, The Gin Game, and Sylvia. I will give the slight edge to Fool for Love for being the most respected piece of writing of the bunch, as it is very hard to be competitive in this category without strong writing. Despite the love for stars James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson, the most common response to this fall's revival of The Gin Game seemed to be, "How did this win the Pulitzer?" Meanwhile, Sylvia is most likely to be remembered for Annaleigh Ashford's star turn as the titular pooch, which could well land the actress among this year's nominees for Best Actress in a Play.

That's my take on where the production categories currently stand. Check back soon for my thoughts on the acting races, and in the meantime don't be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Hamilton is going to win all 4 production awards because the voters will just love it that much