Molly Garner’s Got Your Tony Predictions Right Here [Fierce and Tony] Jun10

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Molly Garner’s Got Your Tony Predictions Right Here [Fierce and Tony]

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that while I live in New York and am a member of the theatre community, I have not seen every production nominated this year.   Nor have I attempted to predict who the winners will be in categories out of my realm of expertise  (lighting and sound design, orchestrations, et cetera).  But as a fairly well-connected theatre insider, I do feel qualified to predict the winners or front runners in almost all categories.   Read on… part of the fun is the debate that will ensue!

Best Play: War Horse

While Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem may be a superior play on paper, War Horse’s astonishing theatricality and emotional  punch make it the must-have ticket of the season.  Tony voters will act accordingly.

Best Musical:  Book of Mormon

This one’s a no-brainer.  Unless you live under a rock– and that rock isn’t in Utah– you’ve heard that Book of Mormon is the smartest, funniest, most heartfelt show produced on Broadway in the last ten years.  And while you may or may not believe the hype surrounding the show, you have to concede that it’s a shoo-in for Best Musical.

Best Book of a Musical:  Book of Mormon

For reasons listed above.

Best Original Score:  Book of Mormon

Wait a minute, am I predicting a sweep?  I certainly am.  Book of Mormon will be like Producers circa 2002.  However, some musical theatre snobs quietly believe that David Yazbek’s Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was unfairly maligned and is, at least on CD, the best recording of the season.

Best Revival of a Play: Importance of Being Earnest

I’ve chosen Earnest based on populist excitement over this revival.  Simply put, everyone has seen it.  Not only is it one of the cleverest plays in the English language, but It’s a safe choice for New Yorkers with visiting relatives.  It’s hilarious, it doesn’t offend anybody, and Brian Bedford does Bracknell in drag, lending the show a cosmopolitan thrill.   (My pastor even recommended it in his sermon one Sunday.)  However, New York’s hoi polloi may choose Larry Kramer’s AIDS drama The Normal Heart.  Critics raved over this revival, and its serious themes still resonate today.

Best Revival of a Musical:  Anything Goes

The race is a little thin this year with only two nominees in this category.  But Anything Goes will easily win:  not only did the crowd-pleasing production get terrific reviews, but Tony hates Rob Ashford (as do critics in general) and won’t miss an opportunity to pooh pooh his showy, star-studded How to Succeed.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: Mark Rylance in Jerusalem

Can they just knight this guy already?  He gives hands-down the strongest performance this season, and he also gave his second strongest earlier this year in La Bete.  One of the greatest actors of our time.  But will he give his acceptance speech in character the way he did when he won for Boeing Boeing?

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:  Frances McDormand in The Good Heart

Theatre people everywhere are rooting for Nina Ariadna to win for her star-making turn in Born Yesterday. This talented newcomer handily steals the show from leading men like Jim Belushi and Robert Sean Leonard.  But unfortunately, the nomination was probably her reward.  Tony did a great job of eschewing Hollywood talent this year after last year’s Zeta-Jones backlash, but Frances McDormand has the street cred to satisfy theatre actors and a big enough name to draw in audiences.  And her performance in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart has been heralded as flawless.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical:  Josh Gad in Book of Mormon

This is a toughie.  As with the talented Ariadna, the nomination itself could be the award for Gad.  However, he has the advantage of playing the lead in the hottest show this season, which could be just enough to give him an edge over Norbert Leo Butz in Catch Me If You Can, the other favorite to win. Mostly I have chosen Gad out of loyalty:  we were at Carnegie Mellon at the same time.  Go CMU!

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:  Patina Miller in Sister Act

Once again, collegiate loyalty tips the balance in favor of CMU grad Patina Miller.  However, it could just as easily go to Sutton Foster in Anything Goes, despite justifiable reviews that she is not quite right for Reno Sweeney.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play:  Arian Moayed in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Moayed isn’t necessarily the favorite to win in this tight category.  But Bengal Tiger was hugely overlooked this season, probably due to the aforementioned anti-Hollywood backlash.  (Bengal Tiger stars Robin Williams.)   Hopefully Moayed’s transformative portrayal of an Iraqi man in this brilliant, poignant play will be enough to earn the play some of the respect it deserves.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play:  Ellen Barkin in The Normal Heart

My heart goes out to fellow CMU alum Judith Light, who was nominated for this season’s Lombardi. However, those who’ve seen  her performance don’t think she’ll pull in Tony gold.  Meanwhile, Ellen Barkin’s fierce monologue in The Normal Heart’s second act endears her to voters.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical:  Rory O’Malley in Book of Mormon

Yes, I’ve predicted Book of Mormon will sweep.  Yes, O’Malley is a CMU alum and a Cleveland native.  But he’s also emerged as the crowd and critical favorite in a very tight race.  He could possibly be lapped by Colman Domingo in Scottsboro Boys, simply because Domingo should’ve won for Passing Strange. But I doubt Tony’s memory is quite that long.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical:  ?

I admit that this category baffles me.   LuPone’s performance in the gone-before-you-knew-it Woman on the Verge won’t win her a Tony.  One critic said she was “buried under a metric ton of comic rubble.”  She’s been nominated because she’s Patty.  Laura Benanti, on the other hand, is a Broadway darling, and the three or four people who saw Woman on the Verge claim she gave a Tony-worth performance.   Tammy Blanchard could conceivably win, but her portrayal of Heddy LaRue hasn’t generated the kind of buzz that (CMU alum) Katie Finneran’s did in Promises last year.  Nikki M. James’ part is too small in Mormon to win.  That leaves the field open for Victoria Clark in Sister Act.  While she’s excellent, the word on the street is that she would be winning a “career” award, as opposed to an award for this particular performance.

Best Direction of a Play: Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse

Elliott and Morris seem poised to win due to the deft staging and jaw-dropping theatricality of this British import.

Best Direction of a Musical:  Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, Book of Mormon

Sick of Book of Mormon?  Here’s the thing:  it really is deserving of all these awards.  Nicholaw is a Broadway baby, having choreographed Spamalot brilliantly and produced a laugh a minute in The Drowsy Chaperone.   Good writing + good artistic team=Tony sweep.

Best Choreography:  Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes

In this extremely tight race, many people believe that Ashford could win the Tony for How To Succeed that he should’ve won for Curtains. (Several years later I’m still appalled that  Spring Awakening won Best Choreography that year.  Seriously?)  However, Anything Goes is a dance show, while How to Succeed really ought to be a character actor’s showpiece.   With Ashford at the helm, it fails in that regard, but he’s still an excellent choreographer.  (Who should’ve won for Curtains.)  He could take top honors, but I’m putting my money on Marshall’s crowd-pleasing, infectious Anything Goes ‘ography