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Tony Awards: Some predictions and predilections

June 3, 2009 |  4:04 pm

God of carnage


Sunday night is the big night, so while we're all waiting here's a peek at my opinionated scorecard for the 2009 Tony Awards.

Best Musical
“Billy Elliot, The Musical”
“Next to Normal”
“Rock of Ages”
“Shrek The Musical”

“Billy Elliot” is this year’s juggernaut, but I’d like to see the dramatically ambitious and sublimely staged “Next to Normal” pull off the upset. I know, I know -- but a critic can dream, can't he?

 Best Book of a Musical
 “Billy Elliot,” Lee Hall
 “Next to Normal,” Brian Yorkey
 “Shrek,” David Lindsay-Abaire
 “[Title of Show],” Hunter Bell

Hall’s book for “Billy Elliot” will win, but Yorkey’s book for “Next to Normal” deserves the trophy.

Billy elliot Best Original Score
“Billy Elliot,” Elton John and Lee Hall
“Next to Normal,” Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey
“9 to 5,” Dolly Parton
“Shrek,” Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire 
 
John and Hall’s score for "Billy Elliot" will win, Kitt and Yorkey’s score for “Next to Normal” should win, and it’s a shame that Stephen Sondheim’s score for "Road Show," which was produced off-Broadway at the Public Theater, wasn’t eligible.

Best Play
"Dividing the Estate" by Horton Foote
"God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza
"reasons to be pretty" by Neil LaBute
"33 Variations" by Moises Kaufman

"God of Carnage" will vanquish its competition, but a sentimental appreciation for the late Foote would have had me cast my vote for the timely "Dividing the Estate" in what is undeniably a weak category this year.  
 
Best Revival of a Play
“Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”
“Mary Stuart”
“The Norman Conquests”
“Waiting for Godot”

Safe money is on the "The Norman Conquests,” but could the Obamas’ visit bring “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone" some good luck?

Best Revival of a Musical
“Guys and Dolls”
“Hair”
“Pal Joey”
“West Side Story”

“Hair” rightfully has this one in the bag.
 
 Best Special Event
 “Liza’s at The Palace”
 “Slava’s Snowshow”
 “Soul of Shaolin”
 “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush”

Liza will be all smiles and acceptance speech cliches, no matter that Ferrell has been spreading the word that she’s a Commie.  
 
Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play
Jeff Daniels, “God of Carnage”
Raul Esparza, “Speed-the-Plow
James Gandolfini, “God of Carnage”
Geoffrey Rush, “Exit the King”
Thomas Sadoski, “reasons to be pretty”

Rush’s gorgeously flamboyant turn will nab the prize.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Hope Davis, "God of Carnage"
Jane Fonda, "33 Variations"
Marcia Gay Harden, "God of Carnage"
Janet McTeer, "Mary Stuart"
Harriet Walter, "Mary Stuart"

Harden has the comic edge.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish,  "Billy Elliot" 
Gavin Creel, "Hair"
Brian d’Arcy James, "Shrek" 
Constantine Maroulis, "Rock of Ages" 
J. Robert Spencer, "Next to Normal"

In gratitude for the Tony committee’s decision not to make voters see all three Billys, the award will go to the dancing tykes. 
 
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Stockard Channing, “Pal Joey”
Sutton Foster, “Shrek”
Allison Janney, “9 to 5"
Alice Ripley, “Next to Normal”
Josefina Scaglione, “West Side Story”

Ripley will deservedly win her first Tony.   
 

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
John Glover, “Waiting for Godot”
Zach Grenier, “33 Variations”
Stephen Mangan, “The Norman Conquests”
Paul Ritter, “The Norman Conquests”
Roger Robinson, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”

Robinson's astonishing performance will seize the day, though Glover's Lucky was the best thing in the uneven revival of "Godot."

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Hallie Foote, “Dividing the Estate”
Jessica Hynes, “The Norman Conquests”
Marin Ireland, “Reasons to Be Pretty”
Angela Lansbury, “Blithe Spirit”
Amanda Root, “The Norman Conquests”

Lansbury will win her fifth Tony, though it would be nice if Foote could also be celebrated.

Best Peformance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
David Bologna, “Billy Elliot”
Gregory Jbara, “Billy Elliot”
Marc Kudisch, “9 to 5”
Christopher Sieber, “Shrek”
Will Swenson, “Hair”

Jbara is the favorite, but Swenson has a shot to pull off a well-deserved upset.  
 
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Jennifer Damiano, “Next to Normal”
Haydn Gwynne, “Billy Elliot”
Karen Olivo, “West Side Story”
Martha Plimpton, “Pal Joey”
Carole Shelley, “Billy Elliot”

Prognosticators pick Gwynne to win, but I think Olivo should and will come through.

Best Director, Play
Phyllida Lloyd, “Mary Stuart”
Bartlett Sher, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”
Matthew Warchus, “God of Carnage”
Matthew Warchus, “The Norman Conquests”

Everyone’s going with Warchus for “The Norman Conquests,” but could he split the vote with himself and allow Sher to sneak through?

Best Director, Musical
Stephen Daldry, “Billy Elliot”
Michael Greif, “Next to Normal”
Kristin Hanggi, “Rock of Ages”
Diane Paulus, “Hair” 
 
Daldry will collect the statuette that I think belongs to Greif.   

--Charles McNulty

Photos, from top: Marcia Gay Harden, left, and James Gandolfini in "God of Carnage"; David Alvarez and Haydn Gwynne in "Billy Elliot." Credits, from top: Joan Marcus / Associated Press; David Scheinmann  / Associated Press.

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