Tony Noms — 4 Safe Bets

It’s Tony Nomination day. I know you don’t need TheatrePlaybyPlay.com to tell you about the nominations — many bigger, more prominent publications and other media coverage have complete information available. I won’t go through the nominations (and I personally saw only a small sampling of Broadway’s offerings this season), but I have a few sentimental favorites on this year’s list that I want to point out.  The  list is at the bottom of this post but here are some personal thoughts on a few nominations:

All The Way — I feel a special connection with this wonderful play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan about the tumultuous days of LBJ’s first year in office. I saw it in its world premiere production in Ashland, Oregon in the fall of 2012; accosted the playwright over lunch in Louisville (politely, I hope) resulting in an interview (after lunch) on the day he ended up winning the Steinberg New Play Prize for this play in April 2013; talked to the playwright by phone on the day he found out that the pre-Broadway Cambridge production (starring Bryan Cranston) had just sold out its run BEFORE opening; and have written about him and this play several times, ending one of those posts with the hope that “someday Robert Schenkkan will take my call when the Tony nominations are announced…” (Instead, I’m sending him an email of congratulations and saving that call for June!)   I already have tickets to see the play’s sequel (The Great Society) opening this summer in Ashland, and I have recommended this play to every theatre-goer on both coasts who could possibly see it. For many months — even without knowing its competition — I have believed this play should win the Tony Award for Best Play. That looks quite likely now.

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James Monroe Iglehart — James is nominated for his performance as the Genie in the musical Aladdin.  By all accounts he literally stops the show and gets the audience on its feet mid-performance with his amazing song and dance performance.  Bay Area audiences are familiar with James’ work since he is a Bay Area native, went to school in the East Bay and has worked professionally throughout the Bay Area, including some TheatreWorks’ favorites such as Memphis (which, of course, went on to Broadway, with James), Aint’ Nothin’ But the Blues and Big River. James has come back several times to perform in fundraisers for TheatreWorks and he is a warm, funny and generous human being.  In addition to his nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, he has so far also been nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical by both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk and for the Distinguished Performance Award from the Drama League.  Count me among his Bay Area friends and fans who are so proud and excited for James Monroe Iglehart!

Estelle Parsons – I was disappointed that Eric Coble’s thoughtfules dark comedy The Velocity of Autumn did not make the list for best play since I thought it was terrific and everyone should see it!  Ms. Parsons performance in the leading role is nothing short of amazing and her Tony nomination (and Outer Critics Circle nomination) recognizes that. Eight shows a week is a physical challenge to any actor; Estelle Parsons is 85 years old (playing a 79 year old character) and she is charismatic and delightful and poignant and exhausted and absolutely beautiful in every performance.

Violet – Fifteen years ago, TheatreWorks produced a regional premiere of Violet – a lovely, rather quirky musical (book and lyrics by Brian Crawley and music by Jeanine Tesori) about a young girl who has a disfiguring scar on her face from a wayward axe blade, and her journey towards a miracle – the healing touch of a TV evangelist to make her beautiful.   I remember this show quite clearly and it still ranks as one of my favorites.  The musical’s 1997 off-Broadway mounting had garnered the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and the Richard Rodgers Production Award but it has not seemed to be widely produced this century.  It is therefore heartening to see this Broadway revival so well done (my spies who attended Opening Night thought it was great!) and well received as reflected by its Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical.  Jeanine Tesori is having a particularly good year,  recently learning that her newest musical Fun Home had been one of the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for drama (as well as receiving many other award nominations).  Sutton Foster is also receiving many accolades for her performance in the lead role, as well as a Tony nomination.

I will be watching the Tony Awards with fellow theatre lovers on June 8th and look forward to Hugh Jackman as host.  I don’t have a great track record at picking the winners but I have a hunch that the four above are each a sure thing.

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TONY NOMINATIONS:

Best Play
Act One by James Lapine
All the Way by Robert Schenkkan
Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein
Mothers and Sons by Terrence McNally
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley

 

Best Musical
After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Miserables
Violet

Best Revival of a Play
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night

Best Leading Actor 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

Best Leading Actress 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

Best Leading Actor 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 & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Leading Actress 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

Best Featured Actor 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

Best Featured Actress 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

Best Featured Actor 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

Best Featured Actress 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

Best Director of a Musical
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Director of a Play
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun

[For a more complete list of nominations see broadway.com.]

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