No one Broadway show has been a standout hit, commercially or artistically, during the 2011/2012 season except the revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman and Disney’s new musical Newsies, both commercial winners. With Salesman the combination of Miller and theater and film royalty, Mike Nichols, directing Oscar winning film and theater star Phillip Seymour Hoffman, made for instant box office magic. Newsies on the other hand, which had languished in Alan Menken’s desk for 20 years, is turning into a surprising Disney hit. The musical about 19th century NY City newsboys opened for a limited run, but has been extended indefinitely and is now grossing around a million dollars a week.
We expect with all the marvelous talent on Broadway right now that the Tony Awards, like the Drama Desk Awards will be scattered around with no single show dominating. The new musical Once, an unrequited love story set in Dublin based on the film of the same name has won the hearts of many claiming the most Tony nominations with 11 and managed to take home the most Drama Desk Awards with 4, but we predict the Disney Hit Newsies will give Once a run for the gold. Here are our picks to win the coveted Tony Awards. Last year we had 16 correct out of the 17 we predicted.
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Venus in Fur
CLYBOURNE PARK – Jordon Roth’s Jujamcyn production has wisely kept the original Playwrights Horizons terrific staging of Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, without making a single change, cast included. The resulting production is even better, deeper and richer.
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get it Once NEWSIES– The Disney musical that has been 20 years in the making is a big energetic Broadway hit and is poised to take the gold. However the little musical Once, has a solid fan base and is much loved so this could be a very tight race, where Once could upset, especially after taking the Drama Desk Award on Sunday. Of the 851 voters about 300 make up the road votes and Once is a small show that would benefit from a Tony stimulating its potential road business, where Newsies is already a hit bearing the Disney name. Newsies deserves to win!
Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
DEATH OF A SALESMAN – No contest here; Salesman is a commercial hit and to many an artistic accomplishment as well. Certainly this is Miller’s best play, and Nichols delivers a fine staging.
Best Revival of a Musical
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar
FOLLIES- The revival is the best and the unsentimental star studded musical is a favorite with the Tony voters as well. Porgy and Bess is marvelous, but just doesn’t soar, while Follies was ahead of its time 40 years ago.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit
TRACIE BENNETT- This is the tightest race of the evening and the contest pits a Brit against Broadways newest star. Bennett’s acclaimed performance of Judy Garland comes to our shores by way of London. The British import has charmed most of the critics and won her almost every award imaginable. Her main competition of course is Nina Arianda, who first did Venus in Fur Off-Broadway in 2010 to much critical praise. Now two years later after doing a Broadway revival of Born Yesterday and winning a Tony nomination for that performance, her work in Venus has become only better, more lived in and confident. Her transitions are nothing short of amazing making her the front runner and most deserving. But Bennett’s awards and her press give her tremendous momentum. I wish they could give the award to both actresses. My hunch is Bennett will win because of the unforgettable recreation of Garland in song.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist
JAMES CORDEN- Another race that pits a Brit against an American and a difficult one to call. Corden’s priceless turn in One Man,Two Guynors is the stuff of legend. His comic timing is extraordinary and his performance is an authentic physical riot. Hoffman is a well respected actor in a demanding dramatic role. He had many theater patrons in tears. I am going out on a limb with this one as most of the wise money is on Hoffman. I believe Corden could surprise. He took the Drama Desk last Sunday. People know the real thing when they see it.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti, Once
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde
AUDRA McDONALD- Audra gives a showy saucy interpretation replete with a scar. Here she is in a league of her own. Everyone else on the list is an also ran giving rather generic performances that serve well. Cristin Milioti has an interesting quality, but that’s all while Audra re-created Bess in dynamic fashion.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines, Follies
JEREMY JORDAN- He carries Newsies with remarkable charm and charisma. Also, he scored in the short lived Bonnie & Clyde this season as well. This is just a hunch because all of these actors have their supporters and almost anyone could find his way into the spotlight. Norm Lewis and Danny Burstein turned in wonderful performances and their work is deserving of the award. They have both been around and this could give them the edge, but Jordon is on stage almost all the time.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Linda Emond, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly
JUDITH LIGHT- Nominated two years in a row, she has endeared herself to the theater community and is picking up awards along the way for her smart interpretation of a bitter alcoholic in Desert Cities. The role couldn’t be further from the woman herself, who possesses a light of warmth and grace.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park
CHRISTIAN BORLE – He practically steals the musical; most definitely every scene he’s in with astounding panache. That he is also appearing in the hit TV series SMASH doesn’t hurt.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jessie Mueller, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical
JUDY KAYE – After years of turning in wonderful work, this year she will take home a Tony. In another year DaVine might score for her spirited and funny turn in Ghost
Best Performance by a featured Actor in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
David Alan Grier, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar
PHILLIP BOYKIN – His beautifully sung clown in Porgy and Bess is the most deserving, but don’t be surprised is Michael Cerveris takes home the award. He has a history of nominations without winning. Several times I felt he should have won. He may win for a lesser performance this year, because he is always outstanding. And you can’t rule out Michael McGrath’s fantastic butler in Nice Work.
Best Book of a Musical
Lysistrata Jones Douglas Carter Beane
Newsies Harvey Fierstein
Nice Work If You Can Get It Joe DiPietro
Once Enda Walsh
HARVEY FIERSTEIN – His book revived a musical that has been on the shelf for almost 20 years, however there is solid support for the generic Once, so anything could happen, but these two are the most likely winners.
Best Original Score
Bonnie & Clyde
Music: Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics: Don Black
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Jack Feldma
One Man, Two Guvnors
Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding
Peter and the Starcatcher
Music: Wayne Barker
Lyrics: Rick Elice
NEWSIES – I’m looking for this show to score at the Tony Awards.
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
CHRISTOPHER GATTELLI- Newsies was just so much fun and this man is responsible, however anyone could win except Rob Ashford.
Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher
MIKE NICHOLS – The man’s reputation precedes him, although I would give the award to Pam MacKinnon for her subtle and razor sharp helming of the best play of the season with the best performances. Maybe the Tony voters will surprise us, but I don’t expect the award to go her way. Mike is almost a legend.
Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany, Once
JEFF CALHOUN – Just a hunch as anyone of these directors could take home the gold. They all had limitations to work with and still made their musicals shine. Newsies, however, is an wonderfully entertaining Disney hit with spunk and pizzazz thanks to Calhoun and company. However if the road vote goes heavily for ONCE the musical could sweep carrying John Tiffany to the winner’s circle for his artistic simplictiy.
Watch the Tony Awards live on CBS Sunday June 10 at 8pm.