|Like this, but excited.|
Unfortunately, that was also the year a lot of ugliness was revealed about the motivations behind voting, and I started emotionally investing a little less.
But my investment in Broadway, in live theater, never waned, and the Tony Awards, if nothing else, are a celebration of that. So I still tune in, to cheer when people I admire get awards, to shrug when people I ... admire less ... get them, and mostly to enjoy the live performances during the telecast. I especially appreciate the latest trend of allowing shows which were not nominated to get an abbreviated performance, as a nationally-broadcast commercial. It's a real gesture of camaraderie, and represents the best kind of spirit in the Broadway community. Do I wish closed shows that were nominated also got to perform? Yes, but I can understand the logistics are more complicated to achieve that (Sorry, Edwin Drood).
Overall, I think it's been an exceptionally strong season. The number of "snubs" catalogued elsewhere is testament to that (my personal bugaboo is about the MTC revival (and new translation) of An Enemy of the People, which was so good I couldn't breathe. Ah well). We had so many good plays, and some really delightful musicals on the boards this past year, and I have definitely enjoyed myself watching them.
I haven't really been reading the chat boards, so I actually don't know what popular predictions are this year. I know there's apparently some Matilda backlash going on, but that's all I know. And that's dumb. Matilda is awesome.
Though I would like to take a moment, in light of the "Special Tony" being granted to the four Matilda girls (no doubt to prevent a repeat of the win for the three Billy Elliot boys), to acknowledge the high number of talented child actors currently working their butts off on Broadway. We've got the ragamuffins in Annie, belting it out every night, the two charming boys in Kinky Boots, and the young man in Motown doing triple duty, including a star turn as young Michael Jackson with the Jackson 5 (and, last fall, the boys in Chaplin as well). Well done, kids!
And now, my predictions, preferences, and paraphernalia:
What will win (pretending I know ANYTHING). My pick.
The Assembled Parties (Richard Greenberg)
Lucky Guy (Nora Ephron)
The Testament of Mary (Colm Toibin)
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Christopher Durang)
Durang's never quite done it for me, so I can't give Vanya my vote, delightful though some of the moments were. The Assembled Parties and Mary both had really interesting moments, but did not win me over to loving them as plays. Lucky Guy was pretty stellar, even if I don't always love Ephron.
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Matilda The Musical
Best Book of a Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical (Joseph Robinetto)
Kinky Boots (Harvey Fierstein)
Matilda The Musical (Dennis Kelly)
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Douglas Carter Beane)
This one was haaaaaaaard. Again, it's between Matilda and Kinky Boots for me (I was not in love with all of DCB's updates to Cinderella, and I know I'm not the only one). I thought the script for Kinky Boots was really marvelous, except for the manufactured "crisis" in Act Two (a plot problem that also plagues the film, to be fair). I really liked Matilda a lot ... I keep waffling. But I think Kinky Boots might snag this one.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Story, The Musical (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
Hands on a Hardbody (Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green)
Kinky Boots (Cyndi Lauper)
Matilda The Musical (Tim Minchin)
I mostly really hope Kinky Boots doesn't win this one - the songs were too similar to each other for my taste - bombastic and huge, no musical arc - and the lyrics employed too many cliches and mixed metaphors. After I heard the hook I had to stop listening. Matilda's score isn't flawless, but it is interesting, and helps move the story along.
Best Revival of a Play
The Trip to Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
There was a lot of drama attached to this category, after the infraction by the producers of Woolf, and the subsequent call for sanctioning by the producers of Bountiful. I thought all the nominees in this category were pretty strong, with Orphans being perhaps the weakest, but included because it was still running at the time. Bountiful is very good, but Woolf was on fire, and I give the strength to that production.
Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella
Another frustratingly/delightfully strong category. I didn't care for Annie, but the other three productions were pretty awesome. I freaking loved Drood, but I'd say Pippin managed to reinvent its source material in a way that won even me over (and I don't like the show). Also, Pippin's still running, and that helps.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Another offensively strong category. A lot of the winners this year, I really can't predict. Metcalf was just utterly perfect, but her show closed so long ago, I fear she'll be forgotten. The same might go for Amy Morton, who gave a roaring performance. I didn't love a lot of Kristine Nielsen's work, but that's a personal preference, and her Maggie Smith impersonation had me throwing my head back laughing multiple times. Holland Taylor was great in Ann, though I wasn't that interested in the play itself. But ... I'm gonna go with sentiment and the one who made me cry the most - I vote for Cicely Tyson, who warmed my cold dead heart in Bountiful.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots
My gut reaction is to say Billy Porter, who is truly wonderful, but I worry that the double nominations from Kinky Boots might cancel each other out. McClure was perfection in Chaplin, but his nomination goes hand in hand with Carolee Carmello's in Scandalous - a star turn in an otherwise mediocre show, and I think he won't win. I adore Santino Fontana, but I've liked his work in other shows more. I think I'm gonna go with Bertie Carvel as the Trunchbull, though the fact that he was up in the Supporting category at the Drama Desks might hurt him here. It'll be either him or Billy Porter (I'm giving my vote to Billy Porter for his very human and dynamic portrayal).
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy
The entire ensemble of Golden Boy was fantastic, but I'm guessing Burstein and Shalhoub, strong in their own rights, will cancel each other out (especially with the show already closed). Richard Kind was apparently the main reason The Big Knife revival made it to Broadway, and it is a nice change of pace for him, but I still didn't care for it. That leaves Billy Magnussen and Courtney B. Vance. I'll vote Vance, because he really did stand out in another very strong ensemble. No clue who'll actually win, though.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin
Oh God. I have actually no idea. None. I'm just gonna guess.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical
If Andrea Martin doesn't win, I think we'll all have one collective heart attack. She managed to deliver both the most hilarious performance in Pippin, as well as the most heart-felt of the entire cast. No one else stood a chance (though Keala Settle, the by-far best part of Hardbody may stand an underdog's chance of sneaking off with it).
Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell, Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy
I barely remember the set of Lucky Guy, I'm not gonna lie to you. Both Nance and Assembled Parties had transforming rotating connected set pieces, but I can't really call one better than the other. I'll go with Assemble Parties just because that play's got a bit more buzz attached.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask, Pippin
David Rockwell, Kinky Boots
I really like the poetry in the ladders of books and letters that make up the Matilda set. It's perfectly suited to the story being told. Pippin stands a shot at challenging it, but I think they're gonna give it more credit for direction/choreography than set.
Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherin Zuber, Golden Boy
All right, so we've got Period Piece vs. Period Piece vs. Period Piece vs. Period Piece. I'm ruling out Cyrano's only nomination as a token-nom, along with The Heiress. Honestly, I'd say Nance and Golden Boy were both equally competent. I'm gonna give the edge to Zuber. Because of reasons.
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
The title practically demands we give it to Kinky Boots, and with all the drag outfits, it might get it. Pippin's costumes are certainly detailed in an intelligent way - the glamour rubbing off, the paint chipping on everyone's circus unitards. But then we have William Ivey Long, a long-time favorite, making some fairy tale magic and onstage beautiful costume changes for Cinderella. When it comes to spectacle, it's a tough category.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Donald Holder, Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weiderman, The Nance
I'm going with Mary, as it's the only show in this list whose lighting design I remember (and it was a stunning lighting design - the final cue made me cry).
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner, Pippin
Kenneth Posner, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical
I'm half-wondering if Kenneth Posner's being nominated three times against himself might cancel him out and give it to Hugh Vanstone by default. That being said ... I do think Matilda had the most interesting lighting design of the four shows nominated.
Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromade, The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy
I'm terrible at Sound Design. Sorry guys.
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, Pippin
Peter Hylenski, Motown The Musical
John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
See above, re: terribleness.
Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy
Another tough category. I've typed "[blank] might get it" four times now, with different names. I am personally voting for George C. Wolfe.
Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical
*throws hands up in despair* I give up! Someone will win! Others will not win!
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling, Matilda The Musical
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Chet Walker, Pippin
For cripe's sake. Bring It On, which was by the way a very fun show and I loved it, had fantastic choreography, but it might just be too long closed, and too overshadowed by the circus theatrics in Pippin. Jerry Mitchell is an old favorite, but I would argue he didn't show us anything new here, talented though he is. Peter Darling's choreography was a great naturalistic edgy use of children, and the staging of "School Song," as well as "Bruce," were pretty awesome. But I think the circus will win it here.
Chris Nightingale, Matilda The Musical
Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, Motown The Musical
Danny Troob, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
I fail at life.
Would you like to cast your vote? I used the Playbill ballot for my rubric.