Regardless, I hold out hope that, even if the nominations never get it really right, the awards will at least produce some justice. We can all rant that awards mean nothing (because they really don't), but everyone still wants to win! So below are my thoughts on the main categories, what I think will go down, what I hope will occur, and what I can't understand. Tune in to CBS on Sunday, June 8 at 8pm to see how I do. And more importantly, how Hugh Jackman doooo.
Should have been nominated: "The Bridges of Madison County", of course, the best new musical of the season.
"Gentleman's Guide", the funny and charming romp about an 8th-in-line descendant of an earl who knocks off every relative ahead of him, should definitely win out of this admittedly less than stellar group. "Beautiful" is the spoiler because of the aforementioned road producers: it would tour soooo successfully, and a Tony would help that (though it wouldn't be necessary). "After Midnight", while exceedingly entertaining (at least for an hour), was a straightforward jazz, dance, big band revue, not a musical with any sort of plot, so I don't know who the show slept with to get nominated here.
"All the Way"
"Mothers and Sons"
Although many are putting "All The Way", about Lyndon B. Johnson, as the frontrunner, my vote would be for "Casa Valentina", about which I have written but not posted the review. Harvey Fierstein wows again with a show about 1960s men who secretly loved to wear women's clothing. At times heartwarming and at times heartbreaking, "Casa" was a wonderful, somehow old-fashioned-seeming night at the theatre.
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Oh man, this pathetic category. Three nominees? Yeesh. "Les Mis" is done well, but who isn't sick of this show right now?? Because I sure am. "Violet" is well done and people are flipping out over it, but it didn't win me over. Read about why here. The unstoppable winner is "Hedwig", or the Neil Patrick Harris show. I haven't seen it because tickets are like $500 but it's a definite winner.
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Glass Menagerie"
"A Raisin in the Sun"
Now this is an interesting category!! All four of these productions were wonderful, and three were so stellar as to be mind-blowing. "Cripple", with Daniel Radcliffe, was incredibly well done and entertaining, thanks to a top-notch ensemble. "Menagerie" is widely thought to be the greatest production of the play ever, with Cherry Jones and Celia Keenan-Bolger giving benchmark performances. But even these stellar shows can't top the all-male "Twelfth Night" straight from the Old Globe, which provided a perfect, hilarious, authentic theatrical experience.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Mary Bridget Davies, "A Night With Janis Joplin"
Sutton Foster, "Violet"
Idina Menzel, "If/Then"
Jessie Mueller, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Kelli O’Hara, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Hot damn. This is the category that is giving me agita. Jessie Mueller is giving a star-making turn as Carole King in "Beautiful" and will be deserving when she wins the statue on Sunday. But my vote would have gone to O'Hara, the greatest current leading lady on Broadway who isn't Audra McDonald, for her unbelievably perfect performance in "Bridges". She won't win Sunday, but in a few years the theatre community will be like, "WTF how did Kelli not win for "Bridges" in 2014? F-ing f-ers, those voters!" Truth.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Tyne Daly, "Mothers and Sons"
LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Cherry Jones, "The Glass Menagerie"
Audra McDonald, "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill"
Estelle Parsons, "The Velocity of Autumn"
Another very crowded category, Best Actress in a Play is not without some controversy. Some people think "Lady Day" should have been categorized as a musical instead of a play, and so Audra would be in the list above. I believe the committee got this right, because the music in "Lady Day" is presented in a concert format; it doesn't drive plot or story or anything. But even if it were considered a musical and Audra was moved, she'd still win. In both categories. In every category. Although Cherry Jones was incredible as well, people want to see Audra make history with her sixth Tony, making her the first person to win in all four acting categories.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Neil Patrick Harris, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Ramin Karimloo, "Les Miserables"
Andy Karl, "Rocky"
Jefferson Mays, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder"
Bryce Pinkham, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder"
Speaking of crowded categories! My favorite of the season, Steven Pasquale ("Bridges") was pushed out in favor of the surprise Pinkham, but everyone in here is giving wonderful performances. Ramin is a butter-voiced, ab-baring angel, Andy Karl as "Rocky" was utterly charming and amazing, and Mays gives not just one but eight wonderful performances playing all the doomed heirs in "Gentleman's Guide". Mays would be a shoo-in in a different year, and still may surprise, but it would indeed be a surprise if anyone but NPH won, as he is giving the performance of his life as the post-op trans woman Hedwig. Someone buy me a ticket?
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Samuel Barnett, "Twelfth Night"
Bryan Cranston, "All the Way"
Chris O'Dowd, "Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, "Richard III"
Tony Shalhoub, "Act One"
Cranston, in his Broadway debut, is winning over crowds and Broadway snobs with his impressive turn as LBJ in a threeeee-hour play. A win for this fun-loving drug dealer would be deserved. But my vote would be for Barnett, a lovely as hell Viola in the lovely as hayell "Twelfth Night". I also just love that Chris O'Dowd was nominated for a Tony. He is adorable. I hope Franco wasn't too upset.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Linda Emond, "Cabaret"
Lena Hall, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Anika Larsen, "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical"
Adriane Lenox, "After Midnight"
Lauren Worsham, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder"
Okay. So. This category feels like a total crapshoot. Lena Hall is the frontrunner, even though she wasn't nominated for the Drama Desk, because of her star-making turn (so many of them this year!) in "Hedwig". Emond is her close competitor, but I admit my tickets for "Cabaret" aren't until July. I loved Anika in "Beautiful", but it doesn't seem like a Tony role. Worsham was fine, but how she got the nom over her castmate Lisa O'Hare I'll never understand. Lenox was f-ing fantastic unbelievable astounding in "After Midnight" (again, review written but not posted, I'm behind)...but she is onstage for literally 4 minutes. It would be worse than Dame Dench's win for "Shakespeare in Love". So, I would say Hall. But whatever, man.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Sarah Greene, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Celia Keenan-Bolger, "The Glass Menagerie"
Sophie Okonedo, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Anika Noni Rose, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Mare Winningham, "Casa Valentina"
CELIA!!! Celia is always perfection, but her Laura was super perfection. She will deservedly win her first Tony, although Winningham and especially newcomer Greene impressed me greatly. But CELIA!!!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Danny Burstein, "Cabaret"
Nick Cordero, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Joshua Henry, "Violet"
James Monroe Iglehart, "Aladdin"
Jarrod Spector, "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical"
Oh man, I'd be happy if ANY of these fine men won. Danny B is a often-nominated, beloved Broadway workhorse who is always terrific, but it's just not his year (again). Nicky C was the greatest part of "Bullets" (again...review coming) but his nomination is enough of a reward. Joshy H is the greatest part of "Violet", mostly because of his amazing solo "Let It Sing", and Jarrody S is my new favorite. But James..um.. I (doesn't really work with I) is playing the freaking Genie. In "Aladdin". So, yeah, he's gonna win. They made up a special Oscar for Robin Williams because of that role! Can't lose! I want to play the Genie. I would totally make you order off both columns.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Reed Birney, "Casa Valentina"
Paul Chahidi, "Twelfth Night"
Stephen Fry, "Twelfth Night"
Mark Rylance, "Twelfth Night"
Brian J. Smith, "The Glass Menagerie"
This is a tough one, because the "Twelfth Night" love can work to cancel some votes out. But Rylance, always just the best imaginable at any role he plays, is again the best imaginable, this time as Olivia, hilarious and ridiculous and perfect. The only strong contender I can see taking it instead is Reed Birney as "Charlotte" in "Casa", as a homophobic transvestite with lots of good speeches.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
SERIOUSLY IF JASON ROBERT BROWN DOESN'T WIN FOR "BRIDGES" (and for Orchestrations) THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THE WORLD AND I WON'T ABIDE IT. I WON'T ABIDE IT!
Enjoy the show!!!!