BY NAVEEN KUMAR
The 67th annual Tony Awards will be handed out at
Radio City Music Hall this Sunday, for a season in which Hollywood names didn’t
necessarily lead to big box office, nor big box office to attention from
Tony voters (unless you happen to be Tom Hanks). Acting awards look likely to be spread among stage and screen
veterans (with a rising star or two thrown in along the way), while other major
categories will see spectacle win out over subtlety, and extraordinary children
over ballsy drag queens.
In the major musical categories, the two horse race for Best
Musical remains close approaching the finish line, with both Matilda and Kinky Boots playing to packed houses and consistently grossing over
$1 million each week. But, given its ecstatic critical reception and proven
success in London, wise bets are riding on Matilda
for the big win, with Cyndi Lauper taking home Best Original Score for Kinky Boots while Dennis Kelly takes
home Best Book of a Musical for Matilda.
In the Best Revival of a Musical category, expectations are
flying high for Diane Paulus’ production of Pippin,
a favorite to take home the prize, with Ms. Paulus also likely to be recognized
for Best Director of a Musical. Previously nominated for two musical revivals
that went on to win the Tony in recent years (Hair and The Gershwins’ Porgy
and Bess), the third time should be the charm.
Perhaps the most surefire win of the evening is Pippin’s Andrea Martin for Best Featured
Actress in a Musical—though she performs just one number, it’s a doozy. Giving
original cast member Ben Vereen a run for his money (in heels) Patina Miller (nominated
previously for Sister Act) seems
likely to win for Best Leading Actress in a Musical as Pippin’s Leading Player.
Two of the contenders for Best Leading Actor in a Musical
are nominated for dressing as women, but Bertie Carvel’s Miss Trunchbull in Matilda—which won him the Olivier Award
in London—will likely win him a Tony to go with it for his Broadway debut.
Another Broadway debut is likely to take home Best Leading
Actor in a Play, with Lucky Guy Tom
Hanks drawing crowds for his performance as Mike McAlary and winning hearts on
the campaign trail. Courtney B. Vance is a good bet to follow Tom to the podium
for Best Featured Actor as McAlery’s editor Hap Hairston. Vance has been
nominated in this category twice before, for his roles in the original
productions of Fences and Six Degrees of Separation.
Best Play comes down to a tight race between two well-loved
writers: the late Nora Ephron for her Broadway debut Lucky Guy and Christopher Durang, whose play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike marks his first Tony Award
nomination for Best Play after over three decades as a Broadway playwright.
Though Richard Greenberg’s The Assembled
Parties surpasses both in craft, at this point it's the dark
For her performance in Greenberg’s drama, Judith Light may
walk away with her second Tony in two years for Best Featured Actress (she won
last year for Other Desert Cities).
Though for that reason, voters may choose to spread the love and look to Shalita
Grant’s scene-stealing performance in Vanya
and Sonia, etc. or critical darling Condola Rashad in The Trip to Bountiful.
88-year-old stage and screen vet Cicely Tyson is the
favorite for Best Leading Actress, making her return to Broadway after thirty
years in director Michael Wilson’s revival of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful. This category nevertheless
boasts stiff competition from Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place), Amy Morton (Who’s
Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and frequent Durang collaborator Kristine
Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia, etc).
Though Edward Albee’s Who’s
Afraid of Virginia Woolf? just recently
took home a Tony for Best Revival of a Play in 2005, Pam MacKinnon’s Steppenwolf
transfer was a hit most voters are likely to remember (and reward). Bartlett
Sher’s production of Clifford Odets’ Golden
Boy was superb, but a short subscription run at Lincoln Center Theatre means
many voters are likely to have missed it.
If Pam MacKinnon’s direction is also recognized, two women
could be taking home Tonys for Best Direction (including Ms. Paulus)—though
George C. Wolfe (Lucky Guy) and
Nicholas Martin (Vanya and Sonia, etc.)
in the play category are both well-regarded vets.
Recent theatre features…
A Closer Look at the Chosen and the Snubbed in This Year's Tony Award Nominations
'Pippin’ Revival Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
Bette Midler Opens On Broadway In ‘I’ll Eat You Last:’ REVIEW
'Orphans,' Starring Alec Baldwin Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
Richard Greenberg’s ‘The Assembled Parties’ Opens on Broadway: REVIEW
Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: joan marcus, carol rosegg)