Red carpet madness is just around the corner of Manhattan’s 5lst Street and Sixth Avenue, where Radio City Music Hall is buffing up its Deco sizzle and glam in preparation for Broadway’s biggest (televised) event: The 71st Annual Tony Awards.
Hosted by a high-profile champion of the stage—he helmed London’s Old Vic for 11 years and has won Tony and Olivier statuettes—Kevin Spacey seems a first-rate choice to put Broadway’s 2016-2017 award-a-thon on the map (in a good…make that very good way). Plus, he strikes me as game for the singing, dancing, and schmoozing that round out a Tony emcee’s scorecard.
As for this season’s nominees in key categories, well, let’s just say some are extremely obvious while others are anybody’s guess. And, I am happy to add, they are listed below with my commentaries and picks.
2017 TONY NOMINEES (predicted winners underlined)
Best Musical: Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Groundhog Day; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
GM commentary: Every one of these new musicals is worthy of top honors, but Natasha, Pierre…is the clear frontrunner. Potential dark horse spoiler: Come From Away.
Best Play: A Doll’s House, Part 2; Indecent; Oslo; Sweat
GM: Another killer category, with Sweat’s Pulitzer Prize giving it a slight edge. Still, I’m going out on a limb with A Doll’s House…there’s just something about this cast and script that put it over the top for me.
PS: See every one of these plays…they are all brilliant and heart-wrenching in their own way.
Best Revival of a Musical: Falsettos; Hello, Dolly!; Miss Saigon
GM: No brainer.
Best Revival of a Play: Jitney; The Little Foxes; Present Laughter; Six Degrees of Separation
GM: I happen to love all of these productions, for different reasons…but Little Foxes’s re-emergence with Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon alternating roles plus a dynamite supporting cast screams “Tony.”
Best Leading Actor in a Play: Denis Arndt, Heisenberg; Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation; Kevin Kline, Present Laughter; Jefferson Mays, Oslo
GM: Kline’s is a tour de force performance in the only comedy up for grabs. Caveat: If Joe Mantello had been nominated for Glass Menagerie I probably would have picked him...so wonderful.
Best Leading Actress in a Play: Cate Blanchett, The Present; Jennifer Ehle, Oslo; Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie; Laura Linney, The Little Foxes; Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
GM: To be honest, it’s a face-off with Linney and Metcalf…but Linney is well overdue for a Tony and plays against type as Regina. Still, Metcalf had me enthralled every second she was onstage.
Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Christian Borle, Falsettos; Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; Andy Karl, Groundhog Day; David Hyde Pierce, Hello Dolly!; Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
GM: Another no-brainer. But were there no Ben Platt, Andy Karl would surely pick up the trophy (Karl is universally beloved, injured himself onstage and finished the show, and, like Linney, is overdue for a Tony).
Thrown for a loop: Andy Karl (right, with John Sanders) is up for a Tony for his work in Best Musical candidate Groundhog Day. Image: Joan Marcus.
Best Leading Actress in a Musical:
Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; Christine Ebersole, War Paint; Patti LuPone, War Paint; Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!; Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Best Featured Actor in a Play: Michael Aronov, Oslo; Danny DeVito, The Price; Nathan Lane, The Front Page; Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes; John Douglas Thompson, Jitney
GM: Another tough category…and a close, close call with John Douglas Thompson well positioned for an upset.
Best Featured Actress in a Play: Johanna Day, Sweat; Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes; Condola Rashad, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Michelle Wilson, Sweat
GM: While all the other contenders were definitely “featured,” Day’s and Wilson’s roles tore theatregoers in half in Sweat’s ensemble cast...plus Wilson brought me to tears.
Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!; Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen; Andrew Rannells, Falsettos; Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos
GM: Every one of these guys is deserving, I just feel it’s Creel’s—and Dolly’s —time.
Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!; Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos; Jenn Colella, Come From Away; Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen; Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia
GM: Both Block and Colella were spellbinding, but playing off audience reaction to Come From Away, I’m backing Colella.
The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards air live on CBS, Sunday, June 11 (8-11pm); visit TonyAwards.com for more.