Wednesday, June 6, 2018

My Habitually Inaccurate Tony Predictions

The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One
and Two
. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
So I have a theory. Our beloved Hamilton was a bit of a tsunami on the Broadway scene. The show delayed its advancement to Broadway from its run at the Public, thus leaving space for Fun Home to claim the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015; with plenty of warning, many shows delayed their arrival on Broadway to a post-Hamilton season, which explains how overstuffed last season was, and why so many shows felt left out in the cold come awards season. Now, the tide's flowing back out and we've got an emptier season. And, at least for the Spring half of it, a bit of a disappointing one. I can't say I came at this list with particularly strong feelings, either for the frontrunners or underdogs, but I will be interested to see what triumphs come June 10th.

With the caveats that I'm not going to see The Iceman Cometh because of my vow to not sacrifice any more of my time to the words of Eugene O'Neill, and that I haven't yet managed to score tickets to either Mean Girls or Harry Potter and the Controversial Fanfic, let's get started.

What will win. Zelda's choice.

Best Play
The Children by Lucy Kirkwood
Farinelli and The King by Claire van Kampen
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne
Junk by Ayad Akhtar
Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo

Going solely on word of mouth (because Sondheim knows I haven't been able to score tickets), I don't see a world in which Harry Potter and the Fanfic doesn't win. Yes, I hear the script is garbage; but I also hear the production is excellent enough to transcend the bad writing (a la War Horse). However, since I haven't seen it and therefore don't have an opinion on it, I'm instead gonna split my vote between the two more interestingly written plays this season: The Children, which continually surprised me with its unpacking of the three characters' history and future, and then blew me away in its final moments; and John Leguizamo's one-man show about the bloody history of the colonization of Latin America, a history he learned in his quest to find a hero for his son's school project. This was my first time getting to see one of Leguizamo's works, and I thought it was terrific.

Best Musical
The Band's Visit
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

As of this writing, I still haven't seen Mean Girls and I don't have an excuse beyond laziness and a bit of burnout (I seem to have accidentally taken three weeks off of theater-going). From word of mouth, Mean Girls sounds like an imperfect, but very fun, adaptation of the hit film. Frozen, alas, was a disappointing adaptation: the first twenty minutes were terrific, and then it started disappointing me with its limp staging and lazy film-to-stage adjustments. SpongeBob, as I will say to anyone who speaks of it scoffingly, is way better than it has any right to be, and I think it deserves to clean up in the design category. All that being said, The Band's Visit is, I think, the clear frontrunner in quality and coherence, and I'm rooting for this quiet and touching musical.

The cast of The Band's Visit.

Best Revival of a Play
Angels in America
Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh
Lobby Hero

Three Tall Women had a gorgeous design and a great second half. I will never see Iceman Cometh again and you cannot make me. Lobby Hero was better than I expected, but that's kind of all I have to say about it. Angels in America is an extraordinary work of theater, but this was not my favorite production of it (ugh, especially the set design). It'll probably win, because it's such an epic thing, but my vote goes to Travesties, which I thought was, to quote Neil Gaiman's review of my favorite book, "Pretty much perfect." Seriously, you guys. I saw it twice in one week and I just loved it.

Best Revival of a Musical
My Fair Lady
Once On This Island
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

If Carousel wins, I'll be pissed because while it's well-performed, it is badly staged. My Fair Lady is fine (the ending moment, as I've previously blogged, is a good nod to Shaw's original intent for this story), but not mind-blowing. I very much would like the excellent, intimate, and continuously surprising production of Once On This Island to win, and I'm going to humor myself and say that it will.

Alex Newell and the cast of Once On This Island.

Best Book of a Musical
The Band's Visit, Itamar Moses
Frozen, Jennifer Lee
Mean Girls, Tina Fey
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Kyle Jarrow

Word on some of the internet streets is that this one will go to Tina Fey for her adaptation. I'd be shocked if Frozen or SpongeBob grabbed this one, and I'd rather like The Band's Visit to win.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Angels in America, Adrian Sutton
The Band's Visit, David Yazbek
Frozen, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Mean Girls, Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants, T.I., and Domani & Lil'C

So remember when I said SpongeBob was better than it has any right to be? That crazy long list of songwriters is one of the reasons it shouldn't be good; but somehow the eclectic score all hangs together very satisfyingly. I don't think it's gonna win, but honestly I wouldn't throw a fit if it did (I'd probably throw a fit if the new songs for Frozen did, on the other foot). I'm voting for Band's Visit again on this one.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Glenda Jackson, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Condola Rashad, Saint Joan
Lauren Ridloff, Children of a Lesser God
Amy Schumer, Meteor Shower

I find it odd that Amy Schumer's on this list, but maybe this is speaking more to how most of the meaty female roles this season land in the supporting category. Then again, I don't know why Deborah Findlay's performance in the three-person play The Children is in supporting. My bewilderment aside, I think this should go to either Lauren Ridloff's fiery turn in Children of a Lesser God or the legendary Glenda Jackson as the cantankerous A in Three Tall Women.

Alison Pill, Glenda Jackson, and Laurie Metcalf in Three Tall Women.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Tom Hollander, Travesties
Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Mark Rylance, Farinelli and The King
Denzel Washington, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

Tom Hollander, please. I really didn't care for Andrew Garfield's mannered Prior in Angels. The other men in the category are great, but I adore what Hollander is doing in the madcap Travesties.

Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub in The Band's Visit.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady
Hailey Kilgore, Once On This Island
LaChanze, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit
Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls
Jessie Mueller, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

An exceptionally strong list of contenders. Jessie Mueller's acting as Julie is nuanced and lovely, breaking my heart with just her reactions. Hailey Kilgore is instantly affecting and charismatic as TiMoune, and I would love for her to get the win. However, Katrina Lenk is a force of nature, and is utterly compelling and captivating as Dina, and I think this one belongs to her.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Tony Shalhoub, The Band's Visit
Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Oh god I seriously can't decide. Ethan Slater's elastic performance in the title role of SpongeBob is astonishing and hilarious. But I've never seen a better acted rendition of Carousel's "Soliloquy" than Joshua Henry's.

Joshua Henry in Carousel. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Susan Brown, Angels in America
Noma Dumezweni, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Deborah Findlay, The Children
Denise Gough, Angels in America
Laurie Metcalf, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women

Another exceptionally tough category of performers. I'm split between Laurie Metcalf (is she ever not amazing onstage?) and Denise Gough. I'm giving the edge to Gough, because goddamn (also, did you see her in People Places & Things at St. Ann's Warehouse?).

Denise Gough and Lee Pace in Angels in America. Photo by Brinkhoff &

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Michael Cera, Lobby Hero
Brian Tyree Henry, Lobby Hero
Nathan Lane, Angels in America
David Morse, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

I think it's a damn shame Seth Numrich's extraordinary physical and verbal dexterity as Tzara in Travesties wasn't nominated. And no offense to anyone on this list, but he's got my vote. I suspect Nathan Lane or David Morse will win this one, though I wouldn't mind if Brian Tyree Henry nabbed it.

Seth Numrich in Travesties.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Renee Fleming, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel
Ashley Park, Mean Girls
Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

I have zero enough strong opinion on this. I really need to see Ashley Park in Mean Girls (I hear good things), and I unfortunately caught Ariana DeBose's understudy when I saw Summer

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady
Alexander Gemignani, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Grey Henson, Mean Girls
Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Ari'el Stachel, The Band's Visit

It's weird, I was disappointed in Norbert Leo Butz's performance, whereas usually I can count on him to be a high point in whatever I see. I probably would have swapped him out for Tony Yazbeck's amazing turn in Prince of Broadway. Citing once again my Mean Girls ignorance (though again I hear good buzz about Grey Henson), I'm looking at either Gavin Lee or Ari'el Stachel for this one.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Miriam Buether, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and The King
Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Santo Loquasto, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh
Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce, Angels in America

I adored the scenic design for Three Tall Women, but I have a suspicion the technical awards are all gonna go to Hogwarts. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT SHOW SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED? EFFING TRAVESTIES AS DESIGNED BY TIM HATLEY. That's where I'm placing my ZeldaVote. Proper lists be damned.

The cast of Travesties on Tim Hatley's scenic design. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Dane Laffrey, Once On This Island
Scott Pask, The Band's Visit
Scott Pask, Finn Ross & Adam Young, Mean Girls
Michael Yeargan, My Fair Lady
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

The transformation of the Circle in the Square Theatre into a hurricane-wrecked island coast for Once On This Island is gorgeous work, and I'm glad it got recognized. While I like the differentiation built between Eliza's world and Higgins's world in My Fair Lady, I don't think it's a frontrunner. The Band's Visit scenic design, like everything in the show, is modest and finely-detailed work. And lordy, talk about transformation: David Zinn's SpongeBob world is an immersive wacky experience. I'm personally leaning toward Dane Laffrey's design, but won't be angry if Zinn takes this one.

The cast of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical on David Zinn's scenic
 and costume design. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and The King
Nicky Gillibrand, Angels in America
Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Ann Roth, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Ann Roth, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

Actually, Hogwarts might not take this one. Perhaps Ann Roth will win - against herself - for the massive cast of costumes for Iceman.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Mean Girls
Clint Ramos, Once On This Island
Ann Roth, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady

Okay, if David Zinn doesn't win for his fucking brilliant costume design for SpongeBob, I will be pissed. Who could have predicted that this would be the hill I would die on?

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Paule Constable, Angels in America
Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh
Paul Russell, Farinelli and The King
Ben Stanton, Junk

Probably Hogwarts.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Once On This Island
Donald Holder, My Fair Lady
Brian MacDevitt, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Tyler Micoleau, The Band's Visit

I vote for either Tyler Micoleau's lovely work in The Band's Visit or Kevin Adams's bubbly work in SpongeBob. I actually can't decide between the two which I think will win, and which I want to win, so whichever I selected above may have been determined by a coin flip.

Alok Tewari in Tyler Micoleau's lithging design for The Band's Visit.

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork, Travesties
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Angels in America
Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Tom Gibbons, 1984
Dan Moses Schreier, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

Welcome back to the Tony Awards, Sound Design! I can't speak for everyone, but I definitely missed you. While I suspect the behemoths of Angels or Harry Potter to be the frontrunners, I'm going to once again throw my complete lack of critical weight behind Adam Cork's work in Travesties, which managed a rather astonishingly balanced chaos.

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Kai Harada, The Band's Visit
Peter Hylenski, Once On This Island
Scott Lehrer, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel
Brian Ronan, Mean Girls
Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

I'm of so many minds on this. I think the sound at The Band's Visit is perfect; I also think the sound at Once On This Island, which has to balance the voices and orchestra in its arena staging so that everyone can hear it perfectly, is an achievement; but guys, SpongeBob has a foley table set up under one of the boxes, and there's a guy making live sound effects during the show, and it blows me away.

Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott, Angels in America
Joe Mantello, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women
Patrick Marber, Travesties
John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
George C. Wolfe, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh

Basically, I want Travesties to win everything. But Harry Potter or Angels will almost certainly take this one.

Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden, Once On This Island
David Cromer, The Band's Visit
Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls
Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

It's adorable when not only do I have absolutely no clue who will win for Best Direction of a Musical, but I also don't have a strong preference. I looooove Michael Arden's work; I also love David Cromer's. Tina Landau is a legend and did something amazing here (though I think I would be surprised if she won for this show). Who knows, maybe it'll be the delightful and talented Casey Nicholaw with the show I haven't seen and therefore have no opinion on yet (I am the worst).

Best Choreography
Christopher Gattelli, My Fair Lady
Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Steven Hoggett, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls
Justin Peck, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Let's start with the No's: No to My Fair Lady and No to Carousel (seriously, no; one or two good moments does not redeem the rest of the blah). I don't think SpongeBob'll get this one, which leaves us with the two show I haven't seen yet. Let's go with Casey Nicholaw, who #triviatime did excellent work several years ago with the City Center Encores! very staged concert of Anyone Can Whistle. Aren't you glad you know me?

Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, and Kate Rockwell perform Casey
Nicholaw's choreography in Mean Girls.

Best Orchestrations
John Clancy, Mean Girls
Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
Annmarie Milazzo & Michael Starobin, Once On This Island
Jamshied Sharifi, The Band's Visit
Jonathan Tunick, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

This one's got to go to The Band's Visit, and I don't want to hear any arguing about it.

Members of the band in The Band's Visit.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I matched the record of correct guesses from the season of Hamilton, with 19 correct (although the percentage is a bit down, because Hamiltonys was 19/24 and this was 19/26 - welcome back, sound design!).

    I haven't had a chance to watch the broadcast yet. I think the win I'm most excited about is Once On This Island for best revival. The Harry Potter wins were predictable, as were the Angels wins (though I would have preferred Travesties got some love). Glad also to see Band's Visit get so much recognition. And, though I think he should have won for costume rather than scenic design, I'm glad David Zinn's extraordinary work for SpongeBob got an award.