News Column

Late Rush Boosts Tony Award Field

April 28, 2013

YellowBrix

By Robert Feldberg

The 2012-13 Broadway theater season, which ended last week, was a strange one. It needed a late rush of strong productions to ensure that the Tony Award nominations, which will be announced Tuesday morning, wouldn't be an embarrassment. (The awards will be handed out on CBS June 9.)

The season's first half was about as grim as it gets, with not a single notable new musical, and few other really special productions.

The one significant dramatic event was the gripping revival of Edward Albee's drama "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Other than that, there was one good new play, "Grace," and two very engaging musical revivals, "Annie" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

But after the second half of the season got rolling, the good stuff started arriving in bulk.

There was "Matilda," the long-awaited big new musical; a vibrant musical revival of "Pippin"; outstanding new plays in "The Assembled Parties" and "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," and solid play revivals of "Orphans" and "Picnic."

In addition, a slew of big-name actors descended on Broadway, giving award-worthy performances: Tom Hanks, Nathan Lane, David Hyde Pierce, Sigourney Weaver, Bette Midler, Alec Baldwin, Alan Cumming and Cicely Tyson.

So, who'll be getting nominations? Here's what I think will happen in the major categories:

NEW MUSICAL: This is the showcase category, and the British import "Matilda" is a definite nominee (and will be the just-as- definite Tony winner). The other selections: "Kinky Boots," "A Christmas Story" and "Motown."

NEW PLAY: Things are more competitive here. "The Assembled Parties" and "Vanya and Sonia" are locks. "The Nance" and "Lucky Guy" are likely. If a long shot sneaks in, it'll be "The Other Place" or one of two solo shows, "The Testament of Mary" or "I'll Eat You Last."

MUSICAL REVIVAL: There are four obvious choices: "Pippin," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "Annie" and "Cinderella."

PLAY REVIVAL: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" stands out, and "Golden Boy" should make it. After that, it's a little hazy, but I'll go with "Orphans" and "The Trip To Bountiful." Other shows with a chance are "An Enemy of the People" and "Picnic."

ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: Let's start with Bertie Carvel, the cross- dressing heart of "Matilda." (I'm assuming his role won't be downgraded to the featured-actor category.) Add Billy Porter, the cross-dressing soul of "Kinky Boots." Then, Anthony Warlow ("Annie"), Matthew James Thomas ("Pippin") and New Milford's Rob McClure ("Chaplin"). Brandon Victor Dixon ("Motown") could crack this list, and so, less likely, could Jim Norton ("Edwin Drood").

ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Despite precedent having been set by nominating the three young actors who rotated in the lead of "Billy Elliot" as a single entry, the administrators of the Tonys ruled Friday that the four young actresses who alternate in the title role in "Matilda" -- Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro -- are not eligible. Instead they will receive Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre, a non-competitive commendation. Another youngster, LillaCrawford, will get nominated for "Annie." Moving on to candidates of legal age, we have Patina Miller ("Pippin"), Leonia resident Carolee Carmello ("Scandalous"), Stephanie J. Block ("Edwin Drood") and Laura Osnes ("Cinderella").

ACTOR IN A PLAY: This is the stars' playpen. Hanks ("Lucky Guy"), Lane ("The Nance"), Cumming ("Macbeth") and Pierce ("Vanya and Sonia") are all in good shape. And there's no way Tracy Letts ("Virginia Woolf") won't be included. On the outside looking in: Baldwin ("Orphans") and Seth Numrich ("Golden Boy").

ACTRESS IN A PLAY: This is another loaded category. There'll be two actresses from solo plays: Midler ("I'll Eat You Last") and Fiona Shaw ("The Testament of Mary"). Tyson ("Trip to Bountiful") is a sure thing. Laurie Metcalf ("The Other Place") and Jessica Hecht ("Assembled Parties") are the other choices. Left out are the also deserving Amy Morton ("Virginia Woolf"), Sigourney Weaver ("Vanya and Sonia") and Holland Taylor ("Ann").

(c) 2013 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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