By Patrick Christiano
The big winner tonight will ultimately be the new musical THE BOOK OF MORMON, but THE NORMAL HEART, WAR HORSE and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS are favorites from the past season that captured our hearts, in addition to PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, which was pretty much shut out with only 2 nominations.
Here are my predictions in most of the major categories.
WAR HORSE – Lincoln Center’s magical production of Nick Stafford’s play direct from the National Theatre of Great Britain stands far above the rest, a spellbinding testament to the power of theater. WAR HORSE is the theatrical event of the season.
Best Musical THE BOOK OF MORMON – South Park writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have concocted a very silly and obscene musical satire with Avenue Q composer, Robert Lopez. The result while not exactly art is an insanely popular tale that has been embraced by many in the community and the show will take many of the 15 categories where their brand appears. THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS should win, a movingly rendered musical with heart and soul and a vastly superior score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, however, THE BOOK OF MORMON is a tidal wave of popularity.
Best Revival of a Play
The Normal Heart – Larry Kramer’s autobiographical masterpiece about the early days of the AIDS epidemic is in a league of its own; memorably acted and directed by a consummate team of professionals at the top of their game. If this doesn’t win, shame on the Tony voters.
Best Revival of a Musical Anything Goes – The sparkling revival will carry the day for Sutton Foster as well.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Film star Frances McDormand, Good People, who just nabbed the Drama Desk Award, will and should win over Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday, probably her closest competitor.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play One of the closest categories and difficult to predict, where anyone could win. Our choice would Joe Mantello, whose searing work, is the center of The Normal Heart. Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, took the DRAMA DESK in this category against simular competition and gives an emotionally potent performance as well. The popular actor has never won a Tony; he’s a strong contenter. But Film star Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice, could upstet the aplle cart and pull off a victory playing a jew, an accliamed performance that moved from the Park to Broadway. The beloved star returing to Broadway, his star power could win him the prize. There has been a trend on Broadway to give awards to big movie stars and Pacino evne going to take part in the awards show enchancing his odds. Mantello has a couple of Tonys for directing, so he may not be honored here. Mark Rylance, Jerusalem, is considered the front runner by many for his dazzling technical display and will probably winn, if Pacino can’t pull off the upset. Rylance has already won the Drama League Award and Outer Critics Circle Award, so a second Tony may yet be his by a nose, considering he was also brillant in la bete, earlier in the season.. Bringing up the rear is Brian Bedford, a man playing a woman, as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, who performed at Bay Street Theater last seson, should win easily over a scraggily field for her sultry turn in Anything Goes. She’s a triple threat singing, dancing and acting at the center of the Roundabout’s marvelous revival of the classic Cole Porter vehicle.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
We predict The Book of Mormon guys, Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, will cancel each other out.making room for our favorite Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, to win for his salty old queen played to understated perfection. Although Josh Gad may eek out a victory, we suspect the inspired work Norbert Leo Butz turned in on Catch Me If You Can will carry him to his second Tony Win in this category, which appears to be a tight race between these three..
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
This one is a tossup between Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart, and Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat. Both women are well respected and liked. Rodriguez has the more challenging role which could win her the award. Both Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves, who won the Drama Desk, and Judith Light, Lombardi have avid supporters.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart, which we predicted in our review in Dans Papers a few weeks ago. His transformation is harrowing.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
We adored Laura Benanti in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. She was a hysterical delight and deserves to win following her Drama Desk victory, but the tidal wave of The Book of Mormon could carry Nikki M. James to the winner’s circle. She has a beautiful solo and a sweet endearing charm, so we won’t be surprised if she takes the prize.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
John Larroquette, making his Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, is the front runner to take home the Tony for his skillfully droll performance as the company boss.
Best Original Score
The Book of Mormon – music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, over the more deserving Kander and Ebb for The Scottsboro Boys.
Best Book of a Musical
The Book of Mormon – Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.
Best Direction of a Play
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart, for their detailed and heart moving helming of the stunning revival.
Best Direction of a Musical
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon.
The Tony Awards will be televised live on CBS television June 12, 2011 8-11 (ET/PT time delayed) presented by The Broadway League and The American Theatre Wing from The Beacon Theatre in New York City.