By David Sheward
For this year’s Tonys, many of my preferences match my predictions. The biggest possible major upset could be Beautiful: The Carole King Musical snatching the Best Musical prize from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The awards for Broadway’s best will be handed out this Sunday, June 8 in a star-studded ceremony from Radio City Music Hall. Here are my choices for who will win and who should:
Prediction: All the Way
Preference: All the Way
Robert Schenkkan’s epic historical drama detailing the first year of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency has already won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and New York Drama Critics Circle. They really is no competition. Act One and Casa Valentina have their companions, but these are non-profit productions at Lincoln Center Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club, so All the Way will go all the way.
Prediction: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Preference: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Gentleman’s Guide has won the Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. But there is strong support for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical which is a favorite of the road producers, a powerful block of Tony voters. Think about it. Beautiful has a score of familiar songs from a pop music icon and tells an uplifting story of female empowerment. Gentleman’s Guide is a dark comedy about death and features intricate Gilbert-and-Sullivan lyrics. Which is more appealing to Mr. and Mrs. Middle-of-the-Road Theatergoer? The voters may award Guide Best Book and Score and even Director and still give Best Musical to Beautiful. A similar split occurred with Urinetown and Thoroughly Modern Millie and years later with Jersey Boys and The Drowsy Chaperone. I’m hoping Guide, the far superior show, wins over the feel-good pop fest of Beautiful.
Best Revival of a Play
Prediction: Twelfth Night
Preference: Twelfth Night
Even though it’s no longer running, the Shakespeare’s Globe production captivated audiences and there are promises of a return engagement.
Best Revival of a Musical
Prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Preference: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
There are only two other nominees, Les Miserables and Violet. Neil Patrick Harris’ dynamite performance and Michael Mayer’s spectacular production will push Hedwig over the top.
Best Actor in a Play
Prediction: Bryon Cranston, All the Way
Preference: Bryon Cranston, All the Way
The Emmy-winning star of Breaking Bad is so much more than a TV star making his Broadway debut here. It’s a brilliant physical transformation as well as a stunning portrayal of the larger-than-life LBJ.
Best Actress in a Play
Prediction: Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Preference: Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
There are those who quibble that McDonald should be in the musical category since her performance as Billie Holliday features 15 renditions of classic tunes. But that will not prevent voters from honoring her with a record-shattering sixth Tony.
Best Actor in a Musical
Prediction: Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Preference: Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
These two tied for the Drama Desk Award and it could happen at the Tonys, but the voting body for the DDs is much smaller than that of the Tonys, so a tie is not very likely. NPH will likely triumph since he is onstage constantly and is a big TV star. Mays already has a Tony (for I Am My Own Wife) and no one’s ever heard of him outside of NYC. But his incredibly versatile turn as all eight members of an aristocratic family was truly dazzling.
Best Actress in a Musical
Prediction: Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Preference: Sutton Foster, Violet
Since Audra McDonald is in the play category, the musical leading lady race is truly wide open. Mueller won the Drama Desk and will probably grab the Tony because road producers will want to give the show as much love as possible. But I preferred Foster’s intense disfigured girl even though she already has two Tonys.
Best Featured Actor in a Play
Prediction: Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
Preference: Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance is a two-time Tony winner, so the voters will probably go for newcomer Brian J. Smith’s endearing Gentleman Caller. But Rylance’s truly feminine Olivia was convincingly womanly. Possible spoiler: Drama Desk winner Reed Birney as the devious cross-dresser Charlotte in Casa Valentina.
Best Featured Actress in a Play
Prediction: Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Preference: Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Both are worthy, but I preferred Okonedo’s searing Ruth in Raisin.
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Prediction: James Monroe Inglehart, Aladdin
Preference: Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Inglehart’s tour de force turn as the Genie in Aladdin will overwhelm Cordero’s deliciously vicious gangster with the soul of a playwright.
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Prediction: Laura Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Preference: Linda Emond, Cabaret
Worsham has a lovely soprano voice, but I preferred her co-star Lisa O’Hare as the waspish temptress in Gentleman’s Guide, but the latter did not even receive a nomination. Of those in the running, Linda Emond was the beating heart of her production. Her Fraulein Schneider was a real woman dealing with impossible choices.
Best Director of a Play
Prediction/Preferance: Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Best Director of a Musical
Prediction/Preference: Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Best Book and Score of a Musical
Prediction/Preference: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Prediction/Preference: Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
For the remaining categories, my predictions and preferences are the same:
Best Orchestrations: The Bridges of Madison County
Scenic Design: Play: Act One; Musical: Rocky
Costume Design: Play: Twelfth Night; Musical: Bullets Over Broadway
Lighting Design: Play: Machinal; Musical: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Sound Design: Play: Machinal; Musical: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Check back after the ceremony and see how we did.