Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011 Tony Award Nominations

Holy nominations!  "The Book of Mormon" leads the pack with a total of 14 nominations for the 2011 Tony Awards.

Chicago-specific, Lookingglass Theatre Company is the recipient of this year's regional theater award. They join the growing list of Chicago theaters to have won the award including the Goodman, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens. Congratulations to the ensemble for a well-deserved award.

Here's the major categories and my picks. Feel free to try and outguess me.  Just remember, I'm not Roger Ebert and there are no prizes involved (well, maybe a Sidetrack slushie if you're nice).

Best Play
"Good People" by David Lindsay-Abaire
"Jerusalem" By Jez Butterworth
"The Motherf**ker with the Hat" by Stephen Adly Guirgis
"War Horse" by Nick Stafford

"War Horse" at the Lincoln Center
As much as I would love for Stephan Adly Guirgis to win, the production of Nick Stafford's play is so beautiful and moving, it's the odds on favorite in my book. Then again, best play is always a horse race (pardon the pun), so who knows. 

Best Musical
"The Book of Mormon"
"Catch Me If You Can"
"The Scottsboro Boys"
"Sister Act"

And what is missing from this list?

Yep. There are some angry drag queens in Chelsea. "Priscilla Queen of the Desert"  was snubbed. It's ok, though. The award should go to "Mormon" anyway. 

Best Book of a Musical
"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"  by Alex Timbers
"The Book of Mormon: by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
"The Scottsboro Boys" by David Thompson
"Sister Act" by Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

Two of the nominated shows have already closed. So, if you're choosing between "Mormon" and "Sister Act," I'd say Sister Mary Clarence doesn't have a prayer.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
"The Book of Mormon" music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
"The Scottsboro Boys" music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
"Sister Act" music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater
"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" music and lyrics by David Yazbek

Tough call here.
The score for "Mormon" is such a pastiche of traditional Broadway tunes with untraditional lyrics. It's hard to imagine a score that includes a song titled "Hasa Diga Eebowai (literal translation: "F**K You God") going home with the award, though
Menken and Slater previously contributed to the Broadway version of "The Little Mermaid." Menken is in his musical element with the pop and Motown-esque "Sister Act" score. 
 I wouldn't rule out the "Boys," though. Ebb died in 2004, so this might be the last Kander and Ebb show Broadway ever sees. Sentiment might go a long way. 

Will the Tony Awards Ebb and flow the "Boys" way?
Best Revival of a Play
"The Importance of Being Earnest"
"The Merchant of Venice"
"The Normal Heart"

Here's hoping that the Tony committee with have a "Heart"
Larry Kramer ("The Normal Heart" playwright) has certainly ruffled a few feathers over the years both within the gay community and elsewhere. I've interviewed him before and, yes, he is that angry and doesn't understand why more people aren't angry about the way this country has responded to the AIDS crisis. While I'm not quite sure I'll go so far as to call it a gay genocide, I do agree that big pharm has made an awful lot of money keeping people infected, but still alive. There aren't any profits in finding a cure. If Big Pharm had it their way, we'd be treating polio, not eradicating it. But I digress.
Never mind "Angels in America" and it's bloated monologues, this is one of the 20th century's best gay plays and it deserves a Tony.
Though it deserves to win, it probably won't. Who would want to give Kramer and microphone and platform?  Besides, a loss will give him another reason to be angry. Expect "Earnest" or "Arcadia" to waltz away with the award instead.  

Best Revival of a Musical
"Anything Goes"
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"

Sorry, Harry Potter. There's just no topping Cole Porter.

Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster are delovely in "Anything Goes"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, "The Importance of Being Earnest"
Bobby Cannavale, "The Motherf**ker with the Hat"
Joe Mantello, "The Normal Heart"
Al Pacino, "The Merchant of Venice"
Mark Rylance, "Jerusalem"

Pacino. Because the Tony Awards usually award Hollywood actors for "slumming" on the stage.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, "Born Yesterday"
Frances McDormand, "Good People"
Lily Rabe, "The Merchant of Venice"
Vanessa Redgrave, "Driving Miss Daisy"
Hannah Yelland, "Brief Encounter"

Tough call here. There were some great performances. Redgrave may not have had the southern accent down, but she is a theatrical force of nature. Still, I'm going with Frances McDormand.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, "Catch Me If You Can"
Josh Gad, "The Book of Mormon"
Joshua Henry, "The Scottsboro Boys"
Andrew Rannells, "The Book of Mormon"
Tony Sheldon, "Priscilla Queen of the Desert"

Gad or Rannells. Only Joseph Smith, American Moses knows. 
One of these two should be able to put "Tony Award-winning actor" on his credits. 
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sutton Foster, "Anything Goes"
Beth Leavel, "Baby It's You!"
Patina Miller, "Sister Act"
Donna Murphy, "The People in the Picture"

Sutton Foster is one of Broadway's greatest gems right now. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, "Jerusalem"
Billy Crudup, "Arcadia"
John Benjamin Hickey, "The Normal Heart"
Arian Moayed, "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo"
Yul Vázquez, "The Motherf**ker with the Hat"

Total toss-up. I'll go with Hickey as a blind guess.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, "The Normal Heart"
Edie Falco, "The House of Blue Leaves"
Judith Light, "Lombardi"
Joanna Lumley, "La Bête"
Elizabeth Rodriguez, "The Motherf**ker with the Hat"

Sooooooo much talent. Light carried "Lombardi." Falco is Falco. Barkin is making her Broadway debut. Lumley is absolutely fabulous in "La Bete." I'll go with Light. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, "The Scottsboro Boys"
Adam Godley, "Anything Goes"
John Larroquette, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"
Forrest McClendon, "The Scottsboro Boys"
Rory O'Malley, "The Book of Mormon"

Rory O'Malley (right) with Lewis Cleale in "The Book of Mormon"
O'Malley's "Turn It Off" is a scene-stealing number about self-repression that ends with a kickline. I'm Team O'Malley all the way. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"
Tammy Blanchard, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"
Victoria Clark, "Sister Act"
Nikki M. James, "The Book of Mormon"
Patti LuPone, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"

LuPone in a supporting role? Holy Mama Rose! I'm leaning toward Victoria Clark on this one. Though she is a previous winner for "The Light in the Piazza."

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