Our popular prognosticator prophesizes the prizes.
By: David Sheward
This year’s Tony Awards, scheduled for Sunday, June 9, at Radio City Music Hall and broadcast by CBS, appears to be a horse race, unlike most years when the winners are fairly predictable. Here are my choices for who is likely to triumph and who I believe deserves to.
Prediction: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Preference: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
For a while, I thought Lucky Guy would be the frontrunner because of double-Oscar winner Tom Hanks’s name on the marquee and the desire to pay tribute to its late author, Nora Ephron. But Vanya has won all the other awards (Drama Desk, Outer Critics, NY Drama Critics Circle, Drama League) and is the likely winner here.
Prediction: Kinky Boots
This category is a battle between Kinky Boots and Matilda. The other two nominees Bring It On and A Christmas Story had limited runs earlier in the season and have long since closed. There is an anti-Matilda backlash for some reason. I hear some Tony voters are complaining they can’t understand the thick British accents of the cast. Maybe the accents in Kinky Boots, which won the Outer Critics and Drama League awards, aren’t as heavy. But the tone of Boots is sentimental and conventional while Matilda celebrates edginess. When offered a choice, Tony voters go for the former over the latter.
Best Revival (Play)
Prediction: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Preference: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The recent brouhaha over the brochure sent to voters by Woolf producers is a tempest in a teacup. If anything, it will gain sympathy for the Albee play because the Tony Administration Committee’s regulations over promotional material are so silly. It also makes producer Nelle Nugent (The Trip to Bountiful), who called for a special committee meeting on the matter, seem petty.
Best Revival (Musical)
A foregone conclusion.
Prediction: George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy
Preference: Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Wolfe manages to turn Nora Ephron’s episodic, screenplay-like script into a theatrical event, but MacKinnon had the subtler task of staging Edward Albee’s classic in a whole new way.
Prediction: Diane Paulus, Pippin
Preference: Diane Paulus, Pippin
Prediction: Chet Walker, Pippin
Preference: Chet Walker, Pippin
Prediction: Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Preference: Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Letts won the Drama Desk and Nathan Lane the Outer Critics Circle, but I still think the majority of Tony voters who are producers want to see more big-name movie stars on Broadway, and a Tony for Hanks will encourage that trend.
Prediction: Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Preference: Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Tyson was wonderful, but Metcalf had the more difficult role as the scientist suffering from brain disease. Unfortunately, The Other Place had a relatively short run as part of Manhattan Theater Club’s season. Kristine Nielsen miraculously combined satire with pathos as the lonely Sonia in Vanya and Sonia, but Tyson, already the winner of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics awards, will triumph.
Prediction: Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Preference: Bertie Carvel, Matilda
Carvel should be in the featured category where he was placed by the Drama Desk and won. He would win a featured Tony in a walk for his hilariously menacing Miss Trunchbull.
Prediction: Patina Miller, Pippin
Preference: Patina Miller, Pippin
Many of the best performances in this category weren’t eligible because they were Off-Broadway-Lindsay Mendez in Dogfight, Ruthie Ann Miles in Here Lies Love, Phillipa Soo in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812-which only goes to show that the Tonys are not truly representative of all New York theater.
Featured Actor (Play)
Prediction: Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Preference: Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance is also a possibility to win just because he’s in Lucky Guy and industry Tony voters may want to give that show something extra. But I think it will be Kind, whose malevolent movie studio boss gets to rampage with gusto in The Big Knife. Tony Shalhoub’s more heartrending Italian-immigrant father was in Golden Boy, which closed months ago, and not all the voters may have seen it. If Tom Sturridge of Orphans were in this category instead of leading, he’d probably win as he did at the Outer Critics.
Featured Actress (Play)
Prediction: Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Preference: Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Light who won last year in the same category for Other Desert Cities, will win her second Tony thanks to the Richard Greenberg wisecracks she so skillfully delivers in The Assembled Parties. Judith Ivey showed more shading and complexity in what could have been a minor role: the interfering aunt in The Heiress. Ivey showed all the conflicting motivations behind the aunt’s questionable actions. If Kristine Nielsen of Vanya were in this category, she would have won it as she did at the Outer Critics, but she truly is a leading lady.
Featured Actor (Musical)
Prediction: Terrence Mann, Pippin
Preference: Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Mann will probably win in recognition of his longevity, having been on Broadway for such a long time (Cats, the original Les Misérables, Beauty and the Beast) without a Tony, but I was more impressed by Chase’s devilishly funny turn in Drood.
Featured Actress (Musical)
Prediction: Andrea Martin, Pippin
Preference: Andrea Martin, Pippin
Lesson No. 1: If you’re over 60, learn a trapeze act and the Tony is yours.
Book of a Musical
Prediction: Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots
Preference: Dennis Kelly, Matilda
I really want Dennis Kelly’s clever and sharp adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story to win, and it might be the consolation prize Boots voters are willing to concede it. But I have a feeling Boots will kick Matilda to the curb and sweep the major awards.
Prediction: Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
Preference: Tim Minchin, Matilda
Just as Tony industry voters want more movie stars like Tom Hanks to come to the New York stage, they also want more pop stars like Lauper to write Broadway scores so Top 40 fans who would never otherwise attend the theater will plunk down their $100 to hear the songs penned by their favorite rock icons.
The design categories just include predictions since they pretty much match my preferences:
(Play): The Nance
(Play): The Nance
(Play): Lucky Guy
(Play): The Nance
(Musical): Motown, the Musical
Check back after the ceremony and see how we did….