Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Anomalously Accurate Tony Predictions

Lin-Manuel Miranda and company in Hamilton
I'm rather disappointed I didn't get to use one of the funny titles I have stocked up for this year's Tony predictions, but I think we all know where the majority of the awards (for musicals anyway) are going this year. My only hope for consistent inaccuracy is to get the play predictions entirely wrong. Let's see how out of touch we are! (or how far my anti-O'Neill bias tends). Previous season predictions here.

It was a strange season for Broadway this year, or at least for new musicals. I began the season thinking we'd have all these massive risk-taking productions, knowing they can't actually contend for the big awards, but wanting to make a splash anyway. And in certain ways, we did get that - we certainly saw a vastly more diverse season this year than, say, Hollywood. But with the premature closings of a number of shows (some deserved, some not), from Amazing Grace and Allegiance in the first half of the season, to the ill-advised Forrest Whitaker Hughie mid-season, and the recently-closed (or imminently closing) Disaster!, Tuck Everlasting and American Psycho, there's a sense that Broadway audiences are less willing to settle for Not!Hamilton - or at least that producers are more willing to cut their losses and get out while the getting's good; usually shows will wait til the awards season is over to announce their closing, but with little to no Tony love for Tuck or Psycho, perhaps I shouldn't be as surprised as I was.

Let's go see how badly I can predict play awards, shall we?

What will win. Zelda's choice.

Best Play
The Father
The Humans
King Charles III

While a case could be made for #TonysSoDiverse getting Eclipsed the spot here, my money's on The Humans, which got fast tracked for a Broadway transfer this season after its Off-Broadway run at Roundabout, and is quite popular with people who aren't me. I didn't hate The Humans but I was largely indifferent to it (a recent conversation with a friend did at last enlighten me to its ending - the play thought it was about the father; I thought it was about the family). My vote's for The Father, which was rather astonishingly good at putting us inside the mind of a man slowly disintegrating.

Best Musical
Bright Star
School of Rock - The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

What can I say? He knows what to do in a trench, ingenuitive and fluent in French, I mean. There are definitely aspects of the other nominated shows to recommend them, but it's no contest. Hamilton deserves to sweep up this year, and it will.

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Noises Off

This category's hard for me, what with my abounding hatred of O'Neill, my distaste for aspects of Blackbird's content, and my general indifference to A View from the Bridge. I loved so much about The Crucible, but I'm still bothered by how Van Hove flagrantly flipped the bird at the playwright's intentions, so I can't give a full-throated cheer for it. Noises Off was damn funny and just a fantastically good night at the theater. My face hurt from laughing.

The cast of Noises Off.

Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Three strong contenders in this category (I was supremely disappointed in this revival of Fiddler). I loved Deaf West's Spring Awakening, but it's been closed long enough, I don't like its odds. And while I love She Loves Me, word on the street is The Color Purple has the edge here, especially in terms of improvements upon the original production (which I did not see).

Daniel N. Durant in Spring Awakening.

Best Book of a Musical
Steve Martin, Bright Star
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Julian Fellowes, School of Rock - The Musical
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Don't really need a lot of commentary on the Hamilton categories, do we? I'm glad School of Rock is getting some love - it was surprisingly good.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, School of Rock - The Musical
Sara Bareilles, Waitress

While I wasn't as taken with either Bright Star or Waitress as shows complete, I did thoroughly enjoy the music for both (as well as School of Rock, which I enjoyed all around), and will be getting the cast albums. Nice to see them represented here.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong'o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

I actually have very little notion who will win here. I'm rooting heavily for Sophie Okonedo because I adore her, but she has already won a Tony, whereas Jessica Lange (who just won the Drama Desk) has not. I don't see Metcalf or Williams as real contenders here (there's just less buzz), and Lupito Nyong'o could take it, but I think it's more likely Eclipsed's cast will be represented by a win for Pascale Armand.
Jessica Lange in Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

I honestly have no clue where the voter sentiment lies here. If View from the Bridge were still running, odds might be more in Mark Strong's favor, but they may have tipped more toward Gabriel Byrne. Then again, Frank Langella is an old favorite, and is doing wonderful work. I'm sticking with my gut. But hey, maybe this will still be a consistently inaccurate prediction list for me!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Philippa Soo, Hamilton

This is the category that will destroy me because I literally want each of these women to win. These are five incredible performances. Carmen Cusack is the reason Bright Star is worth your time. Laura Benanti has won before, but not for leading, and my god is she absolute perfection in this role. Jessie Mueller could sell dried paint to me, she's so charismatic. Philippa Soo has one of the prettiest and purest voices, and she brings such grace and goodness to Eliza. But at the end of the day, Cynthia Erivo OWNS the Jacobs Theater in The Color Purple, and deserves every accolade and award she's been getting. This will be one of the few (if only?) awards Hamilton doesn't waltz away with.

Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman, School of Rock - The Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton

So while there's a rumor that pitting Miranda and Odom against each other could split the vote and hand the award to Danny Burstein, I ain't buying it. While everyone agrees LMM brings incredible passion and charisma to the title role in Hamilton, he's only an adequate actor and singer. This award belongs to Leslie Odom, Jr., and I can't wait to see him win. (that being said, I'm delighted Brightman and Levi got nods here - they're both awesome)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

This could go so many ways. We've got two actresses from Eclipsed against two actresses from Noises Off, which could split the vote and clear the way for the wonderful Jayne Houdyshell to pick up the award. I still kind of think Pascale Armand has the edge, but I could be pulling an ostrich here, who knows. Great work from all five women, for what it's worth.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III
Michael Shannon, Long Day's Journey Into Night

I have actually no idea who will win. I feel like Reed Birney and Michael Shannon have the edge, but what do I know?

Philippa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones in Hamilton.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Another impossible category. Every single woman on this list is doing fan-freaking-tastic work in her respective show. Heck, Jennifer Simard was the only thing I liked about Disaster!, and I adored her utterly - literally every line, every moment was unparallelled comic perfection. But Renee Elise Goldsberry, you guys. I love her I love her I love her.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton

EVERYONE GIVE IT UP FOR AMERICA'S FAVORITE FIGHTING FRENCHMAN! Even though we've got three Hamilton nominees here, I still don't think we're in danger of a vote split. Daveed Diggs's two parts are two showy, and he milks every single moment in a pitch-perfect performance. That being said, I wouldn't mind a Chris Jackson win. His Washington is wonderful and heroic.

Daveed Diggs and company in Hamilton.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Therese Raquin
Christopher Oram, Hughie
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge
David Zinn, The Humans

Hughie just won the Drama Desk, and Oram's design was truly wonderful. But I still can't get over the pure beautiful poetry of Beowulf Boritt's design for Therese Raquin. Of the nominees, only The Humans is still running, but I don't see that as a deciding factor here. Design wins are often where my predictions fall apart in terms of accuracy, so let's dive off the deep end together, shall we?

Keira Knightley against Beowulf Boritt's set for Therese Raquin.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
David Korins, Hamilton
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
David Rockwell, She Loves Me

Had American Psycho been better received, I'd think it would have a stronger shot here. This, along with Leading Actress, is the only category where I doubt a Hamilton victory (though, to be fair, David Korins has been documenting the genesis of his design for the show on twitter, and I have more respect for it now than I did initially). A part of me wonders if the love for Shuffle Along will push it to win here (though honestly I can't remember the set design right now, oops). Right now I'll give the edge to another Hamilton sweep based on momentum, but my vote goes elsewhere.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jane Greenwood, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Michael Krass, Noises Off
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Tom Scutt, King Charles III

I don't have a strong opinion here, or an idea of where bias might be trending. An Off-Broadway play won at the Drama Desks, which is NO HELP (although yay Georgia McBride! That show was awesome)

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton

I'll just. Leave this here:
The  cast of Hamilton in Paul Tazewell's costumes. THEY'RE SO PRETTY.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

Y'all, I really liked the design for The Crucible. If sound design were still a category, I'd hand the award right over to that show. I will say, each of these nominated designers used light in an unusual way, enhancing the narrative not merely utilitarianly (totally a word), but with an element of poetry or heightened perception. Strong contenders, all.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho

In the eye of the hurricane there's both yellow and purple light and it's really cool. I'm so glad Spring Awakening got recognized here, considering how important the lighting was to help tell the story visually and direct the eye of the audience.

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Jonathan Kent, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

I don't knowwwwwwwwwwwww. I really don't. I thought King Charles III was immaculately done, but Ivo Van Hove's pretty hot right now.

Tim Pigott-Smith in King Charles III.

Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Strong competition, but we still know the answer to this one.

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan

Although in recent weeks I've started to have my doubts, what with Savion Glover's tour de force choreographicness (also totally a word). But I just want to point at how the language of a flying bullet is made, at how the ensemble of Hamilton is everywhere and everyone and constantly moving on two independent turntables, and then I want to cry forever. (side note: glad Sergio Trujillo's work in On Your Feet! got recognized, and it is a shame the show didn't get more attention) (other side note: how did Spencer Liff's work in Spring Awakening get left out, and the uninspiringness in Fiddler get let in?)

Best Orchestrations
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

LACAMOIRE!!!!!! That is all.

Daveed Diggs and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton.

What are your picks? Here's the official ballot.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I've got a new high record! 19/24 correct, beating my previous score last year of 17/24. Next year I expect to return to my usual level of inaccuracy. There was only one category where my preference was correct over my prediction (Best Costume Design of a Play going to Eclipsed), but otherwise the awards coincided with my preferences 14/24 times (I credit most of this to my disagreement with Broadway over this season's plays).

    I thought last night's broadcast was incredibly benevolent, which we really needed after the tragedy of the night before. I found the acceptance speeches very moving, I was pleased with nearly all the wins, and I thought every show that performed (possibly excepting Fiddler) did a terrific job of selling their production and showcasing their talent onstage. I cried a lot. I screamed sometimes. I hugged myself, I spasmodically hit my leg repeatedly during Hamilton's (second out of three) performance. It was a wonderful night and I'm very grateful, that I got to experience this season on Broadway, and that I got to get a good revue of the season last night.