This has to be the toughest prediction year since Avenue Q shockingly walked away with the Best Musical prize six years ago, with some categories having as many as up to three good bets. The telecast, coming to you live this Sunday on CBS at 8 p.m., seems likely to be one of the least-watched in recent years given that the revivals had more juice than the new stuff, unless Ramin Setoodeh and host Sean Hayes do a feisty, Zoolander-style walk-off and the cast of American Idiot performs naked. Not likely.
According to early reports, the Tonys will apparently make the general public aware that they can find pop songs in this year
In the Next Room or the vibrator play, by Sarah Ruhl
Next Fall, by Geoffrey Nauffts
Red, by John Logan
Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies
Next Fall has a ton of supporters, but Red, with its lofty musings on the value of art—a favorite Tony subject (Art, The Coast of Utopia)—should pull through.
Million Dollar Quartet
A pretty sad-ass lot actually, and given that first-night press were yanked off the voting block this year, Memphis becomes the safe, sane, bland choice that Best Musical often goes to.
Best Revival of a Play
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View From the Bridge
A View from the Bridge was adored by all, but Fences—the season’s most successful play, usually a good precursor—will likely snatch the trophy.
Best Revival of a Musical
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime was transcendent but short-lived and it would have been a great makeup award for being passed over in 1998. But the best of times is now for La Cage.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Jude Law, Hamlet
Alfred Molina, Red
Liev Schreiber, A View From the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
Denzel Washington, Fences
A toughie. It’s nearly a dead heat between Molina, Schreiber, and Washington at this point. But for his many years in the theater and his great reputation everywhere, I’m predicting Molina by a hair, which is exactly one more than his Mark Rothko actually has.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Viola Davis, Fences
Valerie Harper, Looped
Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family
Every woman in this category was the frontrunner at one time for this award…until Davis came along. It’s hers, no question.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!
Kimball and Ngaujah worked their asses off and it would be nice to see one of them finally recognized for their splendid work in these shows. But Hodge is the critics’ darling and should add another trophy to his crowded mantle.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
Another close one. Do they honor a vibrant theater vet (Scott) or acclaimed Hollywood royalty (Zeta-Jones)? I say neither: Glover’s own personal Cinderella story with Memphis and her powerful pipes will squeak her along to a win.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
David Alan Grier, Race
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Stephen Kunken, Enron
Eddie Redmayne, Red
I’m allowed one wacko choice. Despite the major support for Henderson and Redmayne, I’m gonna go on a limb for Hill, provided enough voters saw him last fall. He’s the one guy in this category who was seemingly adored by everyone. I hated Donuts, but even I loved him in it.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
Jessica Hecht, A View From the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View From the Bridge
Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor
Johansson was spectacular in A View from the Bridge, and a win for her could be great encouragement for the actress to come back to Broadway. But Maxwell is one of the greatest we have, and this is the perfect place to finally recognize her.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime
This one is not as easy as it looks. I can see Fitzgerald or Chamberlin or Steggert pulling out a win by reputations alone. De Jesús’s scene-stealing maid is a strong contender too, but Kreis gets to play a rock n’ roll legend and do lots of cool piano tricks.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!
Apologies to the grande dames, but Finneran’s sublime second-act drunk demolisher is winnin’ this one.
Best Direction of a Play
Michael Grandage, Red
Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
Kenny Leon, Fences
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge
Grandage is overdue, but I suspect Leon will win for keeping August Wilson’s spirit very much alive.
Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Since Memphis will probably take the big one, this is the voting block’s chance to honor Fela! in a big way, and Jones is its entire reason for being.
Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
Christopher Oram, Red
Red‘s scenic design—a painstaking recreation of Mark Rothko’s painting studio, including live production of canvases—is as vital as either of its two actors. This one’s got it.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles
American Idiot‘s bold video walls and aerial prowess should cinch this.
Best Costume Design of a Play
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family
Zuber already has a damn barrelful of Tonys, so the next most handsome period garb is Zinn’s, and they might want to reward the Pulitzer-nominated In the Next Room somewhere.
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles
With Ragtime‘s Santo Loquasto gently removed from competition after nominations were announced for aping the 1998 designs (what the hell was this committee thinking not to know that?), it looks like La Cage aux Folles is ready for the runway.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences
Enron might have stood a chance if voters got to see the show before it closed, but even so, Austin probably had it anyway with the pivotal moment in Red when Alfred Molina took us from warm painter’s light to something much harsher to prove a point.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!
Flash is usually king here, but American Idiot put off some with its assaultive uses, so Wierzel’s colorful schemes seem a better fit for a win.
Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge
I still haven’t a clue why A View from the Bridge is nominated in this category, and ditto everything said two categories above for Enron here, so Red‘s crafty use of ambient music should seal a win.
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim
Fela! seemed the trickiest to make work sound-wise—given the amount of drum use, and for not letting Fela Kuti’s strong African accent get lost in the shuffle—so I’ll go for that one.
Best Book of a Musical
Sherie Rene Scott and Dick Scanlan,Everyday Rapture
Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis, Fela!
Joe DiPietro, Memphis
Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, Million Dollar Quartet
There’s only one good book in this lot, and I’m praying to God voters agree with me. Plus, it’s a great way to acknowledge Scott and her long journey with this show, since she’s likely to lose Actress in a Musical.
Best Original Score
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
Adam Cork and Lucy Prebble, Enron
Branford Marsalis, Fences
David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, Memphis
No way Memphis loses this; it’s only one of two full song scores even in the category (shame!), and of those two, the only original one not based on anything previously produced. Bon Jovi’s David Bryan will be a Tony winner on Sunday.
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Usually goes to a dance show if there is one…so it’s Twyla, Twyla, Twyla.
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis
Those stunningly recreated African rhythms in Fela! cannot be ignored.