…pull the stops out
It’s today, crusaders! Tony Sunday is here!
It’s the Super Bowl Sunday of the theater year and time to make those final tough Tony predictions. But first, our annual reminder of the joys of theater.
For those unable to fly to New York and see these shows, it’s not hard to feel disconnected from the world in which they exist. In essence, the Tonys are New York theater awards. These are not national productions, they’re New York productions. But guess what? Your town probably has its own theater awards.
In Chicago it’s the Jefferson Awards, Saint Louis has the Kevin Klines, Minneapolis has the Ivey Awards, and the list goes on and on. You know why? Because there is theater EVERYWHERE!It’s not hard to think that because they televise their honors, Broadway is the best, but there is great theater happening everywhere. And we will venture to guess that most of Broadway would wholeheartedly agree with us.
So, no more excuses. You don’t have to go to New York to be a theater fan. Get out there and explore your local theater. See a show and support your community all at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Now, on with the show…
Zer: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ” By J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany — The first of a few shows that will have the theatre snobs rolling their eyes, Harry Potter is a magical, theatrical delight. It has something for everyone from the story and acting to the technical aspects, it’s just a marvelous, inspiring show. Yes, it’s two parts, but they’re two parts that will leave you wishing there was even more.
Stephanie: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” By J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany — It’s pure magic in every possible way, and considering the absolute mania surrounding the show manages to avoid feeling too commercial. It’s grounded by some incredible performances and tried and true theatrical elements and the result is simply enchanting.
Best Revival of a Play:
Zer: “Angels in America” By Tony Kushner — Yes, another two parter, and this one comes with a 7.5 hour runtime. It’s not a good year for the restless leg syndrome crowd. However, the epic storytelling seems like a fair trade off. This West End transfer does not disappoint with its stunning design and mesmerizing acting.
Stephanie: “Angels in America” By Tony Kushner — Yes, two, two-parters will likely triumph for the plays this year. This marathon of a show absolutely blew me away and to be honest, I’m still processing.
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:
Zer: Jamie Parker “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — Okay, I’ll admit I really think Andrew Garfield is going to win this category, but if there’s an upset, this will be it. They both deserve it, but the Tony tie seems unlikely.
Stephanie: Andrew Garfield “Angels in America” — This part is a precarious balance of comedy and tragedy and Mr. Garfield treads that line with ridiculous ease. #Prophet
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:
Zer: Glenda Jackson “Three Tall Women” — How do you compete with a legend? You don’t. Congrats to the other nominees, but Ms. Jackson is taking this one.
Stephanie: Glenda Jackson “Three Tall Women” — I mean, in the world of impressive accomplishments, it’s hard to know where to start with this living legend. She will win this category. There’s absolutely no question.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:
Zer: Anthony Boyle “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — Okay, this HP acting award is one I’m pretty confident in. First of all, Scorpius is about as close to a lead as you can be without actually making it into the category. Second, he manages to stand out in an enormous cast that’s bursting with talent.
Stephanie: Anthony Boyle “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — Mr. Boyle had the hefty lift here of making a generation of Potter fans immediately fall in love with a completely new character…and it took about a second (maybe). My only objection is that he’s nearly a lead…but I look forward to seeing his Tony win.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:
Zer: Noma Dumezweni “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — How does one take on a part that is so closely linked to another actor? Pure magic. Which is exactly what her performance is. She’s every bit as smart and confident as you’d want your grownup Hermione to be.
Stephanie: Noma Dumezweni “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — Reimagining a character as beloved as Hermione Granger was no small task and much like her costar, she absolutely nailed it and brought even more magic to this legendary character (and the only reason Harry Potter survived Hogwarts).
Best Revival of a Musical:
Zer: “Once on this Island” — As usual, the revival category is tight. However, this little one act show manages to stand out. It’s a lesser known musical with a less traditional staging, and its story is timely.
Stephanie: “Once on this Island” — This category is a toss-up with three solid revivals, but I hope the Island nudges out the other two if I’m being honest. It’s such a joyous story with a stellar cast, unique staging, and a goat.
Zer: “The Band’s Visit” — “SpongeBob” might just pull this off, but the Tony voters aren’t a fan of commercial Broadway so we’ll see. That being said, “The Band’s Visit” has been a favorite to win since it’s off-Broadway run. It deserves this. It feels new, but familiar. Its short and sweet tale is a breath of fresh air in the midst of recycled plots.
Stephanie: “The Band’s Visit” — I will not be mad if “SpongeBob” pulls out a surprise win, but I will be surprised. “The Band’s Visit,” is such a mesmerizing, beautiful story. It’s simple, straight-forward, and incredibly profound…not to mention the beautiful music. Plus how perfect would it be to have two one-act musicals opposite two two-part plays, the balance is beyond beautiful.
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Zer: Ethan Slater “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” — Honestly, I had a hard time picking this one, but my gut tells me this is newcomer Ethan Slater’s to lose. He is the heart of the little SpongeBob musical that could. Without him, the show would not work.
Stephanie: Joshua Henry “Carousel” — The “experts” are calling Tony Shalhoub with a slight lead…but I really hope they’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Shalhoub was wonderful in “The Band’s Visit,” but the lead categorization in a very ensemble show feels a bit odd to me. Plus, Joshua Henry is excellent…and if they want to give it to Ethan Slater too…I’d be okay with that.
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Zer: Katrina Lenk “The Band’s Visit” — I went back and forth on this one, but I think Ms. Lenk will take this one. Broadway favorite, Jessie Mueller, may pull it off, but I’m giving this one to the first time nominee in a show that stands out.
Stephanie: Katrina Lenk “The Band’s Visit” — I know I just called this an ensemble show…but if there is a lead, it’s Katrina Lenk…and she kills it with one of the best new songs of the year.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Zer: Norbert Leo Butz “My Fair Lady” — Anyone else, and I’d be crying for the Tony committee to give someone else a chance, but there’s a reason Mr. Butz is a Broadway favorite. That being said I’m rooting for some “SpongeBob” and “Band’s Visit” upsets too.
Stephanie: Norbert Leo Butz “My Fair Lady” — The Tonys love NLB, and I can’t say I blame them. His performance of “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” is supposedly miraculous…but I also hope that either Gavin Lee or Ari’el Stachel upset this category.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Zer: Lindsay Mendez “Carousel” — Despite what you may have heard, Carrie Pipperidge is the star of “Carousel.” Ms. Mendez brings all the star power to this role. She doesn’t steal the show, she takes back what is rightfully hers.
Stephanie: Lindsay Mendez “Carousel” — Carrie Pipperidge is one of the greatest musical theater characters of all time, trapped in one of the most problematic musicals of all time and Ms. Mendez does the role all the justice it deserves and then some while keeping time with some of the most insane choreography I’ve ever seen.
Best Direction of a Musical:
Zer: Tina Landau “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” — Roll your eyes all you want, this show actually is amazing. I agree that on the surface it appears to be pure commercial Broadway, but it isn’t. The music, the choreography, the sound, and the performances all come together to create one beautiful show that is pure joy. Ms. Landau is the glue that holds this show together, and I think even the Tony committee will recognize it.
Stephanie: Tina Landau “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” — I love this show so very much, but I expect this may be one of the few categories it wins on Sunday night. While New York may push back on the show’s commercial factors, it seems to have embraced what Ms. Landau has accomplished here.
Best Book of a Musical:
Zer: Itamar Moses “The Band’s Visit” — Telling a story well doesn’t require a lot. What it does require is a keen eye who knows what’s important and what can be left out. That is accomplished in the succinctly elegant, “The Band’s Visit.”
Stephanie: Itamar Moses “The Band’s Visit” — The tightness of this one-act beauty is just as breathtaking as its melodies and I predict Tony will agree.
Best Original Score
Zer: David Yazbek “The Band’s Visit” — Give the man his Tony already. What Yazbek does with so little is amazing. The songs flow seamlessly from one moment to the next. They’re haunting. They’re intoxicating. They’re what make this little show shine.
Stephanie: David Yazbek “The Band’s Visit” — So stinkin’ beautiful, and perhaps even more impressive, you’ll catch hints of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” from time to time…and it totally works…but if the Tonys want to give it to SpongeBob (i.e. David Bowie), I would be okay with that too.