Pondering the Tony Awards




Every year, I anxiously await the Tony nominations to see how the committee stacks up with my thoughts.  There are always a number of surprises and I sometimes think that the committee members certainly did not see the same shows that I saw.  However, that is the experience of someone who goes strictly to enjoy the entertainment and not someone immersed in the profession.  Since the members of the committee are distinguished members of the theater community, our thoughts clearly would be different. 

That having been said, a few thoughts on those who should have been nominated:

First and foremost, for Best Musical – the nominating committee could have gone with a fifth nomination..and they did not.  That is a very sad choice in a year which brought us The Bridges of Madison County, Rocky, First Date and Big Fish among others.  While the latter two closed early, Bridges and Rocky should have been considered.  Not having a fifth nominee only hurts the productions.  Perhaps if Bridges got a nomination, it would not have closed.  There – I said it – Shame on you Nominating Committee. 

Other Slights –

For Best Actor in a Play   – Zachary Quinto in The Glass Menagerie, Daniel Radcliffe for the Cripple of Inishmaan and Denzel Washington for A Raisin in the Sun. The Hollywood factor rules again.

For Best Actress in a PlayToni Collette for The Realistic Joneses

For Best Featured Actress in a MusicalCass Morgan for The Bridges of Madison County, Lisa O’Hare for A Gentleman’s Guide and Margo Seibert as Adrian in Rocky.   

For Best Actor in a MusicalWill Swenson in Les Miserables and Stephen Pasquale for The Bridges of Madison County.

Now onto the nominees –

The most interesting categories this year belong to the leading women, so let’s start with them.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Mary Bridget Davies, “A Night with Janis Joplin”
Sutton Foster, “Violet”
Idina Menzel, “If/Then”
Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
Kelli O’Hara, “The Bridges of Madison County”

All five actresses are worthy but this year’s prize is between Kelli O’Hara and Jesse Mueller.  I think that Jesse’s portrayal of Carole King is amazing and deserves the award.  However, Kelli O’Hara is the sentimental favorite, having been nominated for the fifth time with no previous wins.

 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Tyne Daly, “Mothers and Sons”
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, “A Raisin in the Sun”
Cherry Jones, “The Glass Menagerie”
Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”
Estelle Parsons, “The Velocity of Autumn”

This is probably the most exciting category and the competition is fierce.  Cherry Jones and Tyne Daly gave monumental performances.  Audra McDonald’s portrayal of Billie Holiday is uncanny. My personal vote would go to Tyne Daly over Cherry Jones, but I think Audra McDonald might have this one locked up.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

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”

I adore Adriane Lenox and thought she was spectacular in After Midnight.   I would love to see her win this.  Anika Larsen, Lauren Worsham and Lena Hall all give great performances as well, but I think this belongs to Linda Emond for her emotional portrayal in Cabaret.  Don’t count out Lena Hall either though..this is a tough one to call.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Sarah Green, “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

My vote is for Celia Keenan Bolger.  Anika Noni Rose and Sophie Okonedo might cancel each other out and while Sarah Green was wonderful, I think it is hard to pass up Bolger’s portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie.  I think Mare Winningham was phenomenal in Casa Valentina, and as much as I would love to see her take this, I don’t think she will get the votes.

Now – Onto the Men

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Ramin Karimloo, “Les Miserables”
Andy Karl, “Rocky”
Jefferson Mays, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
Bryce Pinkham, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Neil Patrick Harris will take this one – the Tony voters always love gender bending roles and they love NPH.  Jefferson Mays is a close second but he and Bryce Pinkham will cancel each other out.  Ramin Karimloo is superb as Valjean in Les Miserables and Andy Karl is so endearing as Rocky but he is the dark horse in this category. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein, “Cabaret”
Nick Cordero, “Bullets Over Broadway”
Joshua Henry, “Violet”
James Monroe Iglehart, “Aladdin”
Jarrod Spector, “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”

I would love to see Danny Burstein win this as he has been nominated a few times in the past, however, I think this belongs to James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie in Alladin.  Again, five great performances in a very competitive category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Samuel Barnett, “Twelfth Night”
Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”
Chris O’Dowd, “Of Mice and Men”
Mark Rylance, “Richard III”
Tony Shalhoub, “Act One

This one is between Tony Shaloub and Brian Cranston.  Mark Rylance is brilliant as always and Chris O’Dowd was amazing, but I think the character portrayals by Shaloub and Cranston are Tony worthy.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Reed Birney, “Casa Valentina”
Paul Chahidi, “Twelfth Night”
Stephen Fry, “Twelfth Night”
Mark Rylance, “Twelfth Night”
Brian J. Smith, “The Glass Menagerie”

My vote is for Reed Birney in Casa Valentina.  Brian J. Smith was excellent in The Glass Menagerie and the men from Twelfth Night were all good, I think Birney deserves it.

The best play, musical, and revivals in those categories are next and these are not as easy to decide as they may appear.

Best Play
“Act One”
“All the Way”
“Casa Valentina”
“Mothers and Sons”
“Outside Mullingar”

I think the Tony will go to Act One – the voters love a show business story.  However, my votes go to Casa Valentina and Mothers and Sons.  Fierstein’s dramatization of straight men who live as women in the 1960’s Catskills is an amazing show and Mothers and Sons is just heart wrenching, bringing all the tragedy of losing a child to AIDS  and the aftermath for who remains behind left me in tears.  Don’t count either one out.

Best Musical
“After Midnight”
“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Aladdin is a favorite but based on a movie.  Beautiful is a jukebox musical – to which voters do not take too kindly, although, the story and the performances are wonderful.  After Midnight is the longshot – and also a jukebox musical.  A Gentleman’s Guide is the most original of the four, and will probably take it.  My vote would be for Beautiful.

Best Revival of a Play
“The Cripple of Inishmaan”
“The Glass Menagerie”
“A Raisin in the Sun”
“Twelfth Night”

The Glass Menagerie – hands down -gets my vote here.  However, don’t count the others out.  All three are worthy of the award. 

Best Revival of a Musical
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
“Les Miserables”

Hedwig gets the nod here.  Violet is not as popular as it needs to be to win this and truthfully, as much as I loved the revival – how many revivals of Les Mis can you have? 

I am not going to comment on score, compositions, scenic design, costumes and the other categories as this is already a bit long.  However, I would love to see Jason Robert Brown win and I also would love to see a win for Steven Lutvak, who is a personal favorite.  I have sung a few of his compositions in my cabaret shows and he has always been so giving of his works.

Until next week – when we see how Sunday’s broadcast affects what remains open and what folds…enjoy the pondering!!