Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My Annually Inaccurate Tony Predictions

RIP Head Over Heels
The Tony Awards are this weekend, which means I'm legally obligated to have an opinion about who should win, and who should suffer. It's been another kind of weird season for me (well, for Broadway). Not a lot of shows really blew me out of the water, though most shows at least had some element that really stood out, be it design (King Kong) or performance (the Best Featured Actress in a Musical category is a surfeit of riches, with the resulting heartbreak that there are some notable omissions there: I thought Beetlejuice's Leslie Kritzer was a shoe-in for a nomination, and even people who hated the delightful Head Over Heels walked away talking about how brilliant Bonnie Milligan was).

Other disappointing omissions (at least for me) included the stellar work in Lifespan of a Fact and Mike Birbiglia's The New One, as well as Michael Urie's performance in Torch Song. I was surprised that Mockingbird  wasn't nominated for Best Play, especially in light of its other nominations, but that could be due to Scott Rudin being rather an impolitic tool.

Let's get to it!
What will win. Zelda's choice.

Best Play
Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Taylor Mac
Ink by James Graham
What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck

This is one of the more apples to oranges to kumquats categories I've seen in a while, which is thrilling in terms of variety, but makes the "ranking" of them perhaps more subjective than it might otherwise be. I really didn't care for Gary, but I know that others did. I thought Ink was terrific, but between the two British transfers, the strength lies in the epic and heartstopping Ferryman. I adored Choir Boy as a production, its staging and performances, but think it's less narratively strong than Ferryman and Constitution. And Constitution, meanwhile, is such a special and unusual piece to land on Broadway, and I'm so pleased to see Heidi Schreck's work recognized in this way. Going by the way the wind is blowing, and by my own personal subjective preference, I think Ferryman wins here.

Nialle Wright, Matilda Lawler, Justin Edwards, Mark Lambert, Fra Fee, and
Willow McCarthy in The Ferryman. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Musical
Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
The Prom

Interestingly, there seems to be no consensus about what show will win here. Hadestown has the most nominations at 14, with Ain't Too Proud and Tootsie only a few behind. The Prom just won the Drama Desk, and I'm also quietly sitting here wishing Head Over Heels  were up here even though I know it shouldn't be. Having just seen The Prom again this weekend, I'm gonna be the brat who says I liked it better than either Tootsie or Hadestown. Don't get me wrong, Hadestown has amazing elements and deserves the design awards it will probably win, but I'm still bothered by the fact that, within this gorgeous production and amazing surrounding cast, I didn't care about the central couple. I think it likely Hadestown will win, but I'm not strongly in anyone's corner in this race (frankly, my favorite new musical so far this season is Dave Malloy's new Off-Broadway show at Signature, Octet).

Jewelle Blackman, Kay Trinidad, and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer in
Hadestown. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller's All My Sons
The Boys in the Band
Burn This
Torch Song
The Waverly Gallery

Ugh. Apparently the front-runner here is The Waverly Gallery, which had me soporifically bored. I just. I'm not gonna vote for All My Sons because it was poorly directed, and Burn This didn't quite solve the play for me like I'd hoped it would (though I love Lanford Wilson). I'm between Torch Song  and Boys in the Band, both strong revivals of noteworthy plays.

Roxanne Hope Radja, Ward Horton, Michael Urie, and Michael Hsu Rosen
in Torch Song. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Revival of a Musical
Kiss Me, Kate
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

I'm amazed they kept the category, with only two options. And, not to pull the same trick I pulled with Best Musical, but the best revival this season for me is indisputably the Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof running at Stage 42 (and the Drama Desks and Outer Critics agree with me). I haven't seen Kiss Me, Kate yet (seeing it later this month), but going purely on clips I've seen and the fact that, as many issues as I have with it, this is a truly special production of Oklahoma!, I think the choice is pretty straightforward.

Rebecca Naomi Jones and Damon Daunno in Oklahoma!
Photo by Teddy Wolff.

Best Book of a Musical
Ain't Too Proud, Dominique Morisseau
Beetlejuice, Scott Brown and Anthony King
Hadestown, Anais Mitchell
The Prom, Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
Tootsie, Robert Horn

I don't think it will win, but the book for Beetlejuice was pretty good overall, and I appreciated how it took certain aspects from the film without feeling beholden to it for the full narrative. I have a strong suspicion that Tootsie will win this, but I'm still sticking with the script that made me genuinely laugh the most.
Isabelle McCalla and Caitlin Kinnunen and the cast of The Prom.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Be More Chill, Joe Iconis
Beetlejuice, Eddie Perfect
Hadestown, Anais Mitchell
The Prom, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
To Kill a Mockingbird, Adam Guettel
Tootsie, David Yazbek

It's always fun to see an original score for a play sneak into this category. I think this one is definitely going to Hadestown, and that one I'm fine with.

Patrick Page and Amber Gray in Hadestown.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Annette Bening, All My Sons
Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

This one's rough. Word on the internetstreet is Elaine May is the frontrunner, but for my money, I'd give it to either Heidi Schreck (perhaps even in part because I don't think she'll win for best play, but I'd like her to get something), or Laura Donnelly, who was flipping amazing in Ferryman.

Heidi Schreck and Mike Iveson in What the Constitution Means to Me.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
Bryan Cranston, Network
Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver, Burn This
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy

General consensus is pointing to Bryan Cranston, from what I can tell (funny side note: none of the above gentlemen were nominated for a Drama Desk; all the Best Actor in a Play nominees were for Off-Broadway fare), but I'm ignoring that like a fool. I would love love love for Jeremy Pope, who made his Broadway debut twice this season (Broadway play debut with Choir Boy, then Broadway musical debut with Ain't Too Proud) to win this, because he was kind of every way perfect in this.

Jeremy Pope and the cast of Choir Boy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
Kelli O'Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

My main thought on this category is I'm just so damn thrilled that Caitlin Kinnunen got nominated. She's wonderful. Stephanie J. Block just won the Drama Desk, and she's been doing really great work for a while now. I'd love to see her win.

The three Chers of The Cher Show.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain't Too Proud
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
Santino Fontana, Tootsie

A very strong category. Alex Brightman is a force of nature who keeps landing in seasons where he's somehow not the frontrunner. Damon Daunno bring an interesting combination of sweetness and menace to Curly, and I'm glad to see him recognized here. And oh boy, Brooks Ashmanskas has been stealing the show in supporting roles for his entire career, and I adore adore adore him, and would love for him to win. But Santino Fontana, I also adore adore adore him. I may not love Tootsie, but I can appreciate his work in this (and the versatility he's brought to his many-flavored stage career), and how he disappears into Dorothy. This one's his.

Santino Fontana and the cast of Tootsie. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Fionnula Flanagan, The Ferryman
Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird
Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ruth Wilson, King Lear

No contest, in my opinion. The least of which because she should have been in the leading actor category.

Celia Keenan-Bolger in To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Bertie Carvel, Ink
Robin De Jesus, The Boys in the Band
Gideon Glick, To Kill a Mockingbird
Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
Benjamin Walker, All My Sons

This one's really rough. Benjamin Walker was definitely my favorite part of All My Sons, but I don't know if that's enough. My vote's for either Robin De Jesus (stellar) or Brandon Uranowitz (also wonderful), giving the edge to Uranowitz because his show is still running.

Brandon Uranowitz and Keri Russell in Burn This. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Ali Stroker, Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Oklahoma!

I hate this category because what I truly want is a three-way tie among Amber Gray, Sarah Stiles, and Ali Stroker. Actually, that's a lie, I want a five way tie among those three and Bonnie Milligan and Leslie Kritzer. But methinks this is Ali Stroker's and boy does she deserve it.

Ali Stroker in Oklahoma! Photo by Teddy Wolff.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Andre De Shields, Hadestown
Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Jeremy Pope, Ain't Too Proud
Ephraim Sykes, Ain't Too Proud

Another offensively talent-rich category, and I wouldn't say no to a five-way tie among these nominees. Patrick Page was all set to be my favorite, but I also really really really really want Ephraim Sykes to win.

Ephraim Sykes and the cast of Ain't Too Proud.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Miriam Buether, To Kill a Mockingbird
Bunny Christie, Ink
Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Santo Loquasto, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Jan Versweyveld, Network

My vote's for Ink's tower of desks, but this is a category where I think I'd be fine with most of the nominees winning (I've already written about my issues with the design of Gary).

The cast of Ink. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Ain't Too Proud
Peter England, King Kong
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, Oklahoma!
David Korins, Beetlejuice

King Kong's already getting a special Tony Award for its massive puppet, and well deserved, but no way in hell does that scenic design deserve to make this list. Of this list, I think Hadestown, Oklahoma!, and Beetlejuice sport the most interesting and surprising choices, but on top of that, David Korins's design is truly special, full of surprises, and working in perfect union with the other design elements of the show (particularly projection and puppets, neither of which have Tony categories as yet).

Alex Brightman in Beetlejuice.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Clint Ramos, Torch Song
Ann Roth, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ann Roth, To Kill a Mockingbird

Bernhardt/Hamlet probably has the edge here, though I think all the designers did fine work.

Janet McTeer in Bernhardt/Hamlet. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Michael Krass, Hadestown
William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
William Ivey Long, Tootsie
Bob Mackie, The Cher Show
Paul Tazewell, Ain't Too Proud

God, this category is rough. I think it'd be amazing to see my former teacher Michael Krass win for his beautifully detailed work on Hadestown, but William Ivey Long's two shows scream spectacle. And then at the end of the day, I think we know Bob Mackie's designs for The Cher Show are going to win.

The Cher Show.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Ink
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Peter Mumford, The Ferryman
Jennifer Tipton, To Kill a Mockingbird
Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden, Network

I vote Mockingbird, and who knows, maybe I'm right?

The cast of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, The Cher Show
Howell Binkley, Ain't Too Proud
Bradley King, Hadestown
Peter Mumford, King Kong
Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice

Bradley Freaking King, you guys. We all know this.

Reeve Carney in Hadestown.

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork, Ink
Scott Lehrer, To Kill a Mockingbird
Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
Nick Powell, The Ferryman
Eric Sleichim, Network

This has to go to Choir Boy, in my own humble whatever (though I could see Network grabbing it).

The cast of Choir Boy.

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice
Peter Hylenski, King Kong
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ain't Too Proud
Drew Levy, Oklahoma!
Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown

I have no idea how the voters will decide, but I'd give it to Oklahoma!, for the way it plays with sound.

Damon Daunno, Mary Testa, and the orchestra of Oklahoma!

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, Ink
Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
Ivo van Hove, Network
George C. Wolfe, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Sam Mendes please! Although any of these nominees are worthy.

Best Direction of a Musical
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Oklahoma!
Des McAnuff, Ain't Too Proud
Casey Nicholaw, The Prom

Rachel Chavkin, I beg you. Come on. She should have gotten it for Great Comet and everyone knows it.

Best Choreography
Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
Denis Jones, Tootsie
David Neumann, Hadestown
Sergio Trujillo, Ain't Too Proud

This one's hard. I adored the musical staging in Choir Boy, but my god the physical muscularity of Hadestown! And then there was something so thrilling in Sergio Trujillo's bringing the old Temptations back to life in Ain't Too Proud. I gotta go with Hadestown on this.

Amber Gray and the cast of Hadestown.

Best Orchestrations
Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown
Larry Hochman, Kiss Me, Kate
Daniel Kluger, Oklahoma!
Simon Hale, Tootsie
Harold Wheeler, Ain't Too Proud

I know Oklahoma! just won the Drama Desk for this, and I'm sure part of that is from this reexamination of a classic, but Hadesssssstowwwwwwwwwwwwwwn that is all.

1 comment:

  1. Overall, I enjoyed this broadcast quite a bit. I like Corden's various bits (highlights were James in the Bathroom and the Broadway Beefs), and I thought that for the most part, each show chose a strong selection/medley to showcase what they have to offer, and remind those of us who've seen them what we liked about them.

    I am BEYOND thrilled with Rachel Chavkin's win and Ali Stroker's win. Hot damn.

    My stats: I guessed correctly 17/26, which is averageish for me.