Theatre — The Tony Awards, they’re grrrrrreat

The Tony Awards, they’re grrrrrreat

By Michelle Saturley

This year the awards are all about the revivals, the big stars and ignoring Arthur Miller

What’s the best way to get non-theater people into the audience on Broadway? Pack the Great White Way with television and film stars, for one. The other way is to take proven commodities, like classic films, and put them on stage.

This year’s Tony Award nominees show that this trend isn’t only proving successful financially, but critically as well. Spamalot and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, both based on hit movies, are up for multiple awards, as are several long-loved revivals.

The Tonys will air on June 5 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Best Play

Democracy (written by Michael Frayn); Doubt (written by John Patrick Shanley); Gem of the Ocean (written by August Wilson); The Pillowman (written by Martin McDonagh)

Buzz: Given the current world political climate, and the fact that actors are so liberal they make Michael Moore look like a Nazi, Democracy will win. The play follows the career of Willy Brandt (played by James Naughton), West Germany’s first left-of-center chancellor. It depicts his downfall at the hands of his trusted assistant, Günter Guillaume (The Waltons’ Richard Thomas, playing against John-Boy type). Any play that with a strong political statement makes Tony voters all giddy.

Best Musical

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; The Light in the Piazza; Monty Python’s Spamalot; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Buzz: Monty Python’s Spamalot may sweep this year’s awards. However, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has just the kind of “Little Engine That Could” story that appeals to voters.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek); The Light in the Piazza (Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel); Monty Python’s Spamalot (Music: John Du Prez and Eric Idle; Lyrics: Eric Idle); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Music & Lyrics: William Finn)

Buzz: The key word here is “Original.” Most of the songs in Spamalot have been heard before in the film. And the songs in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are, for the most part, abysmal. The Light in the Piazza just might get this one.

Best Revival of a Play

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Glengarry Glen Ross, On Golden Pond

Twelve Angry Men

Buzz: An all-black cast of On Golden Pond, featuring James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams, looks like an early favorite to win. But don’t discount the powerful and always timely writing of Twelve Angry Men, or the frightening, over-the-top performance of Kathleen Turner in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical

La Cage aux Folles; Pacific Overtures; Sweet Charity

Buzz: I’m going to go wayyyy out there and say that Pacific Overtures will take this prize. Because it’s the only one on the list I’ve never seen or heard of. And the others have been revived ad nauseum. Then again, if I’ve learned anything about Broadway, it’s “stick with what you know.” So, La Cage. By a nose.

Best Special Theatrical Event

Billy Crystal 700 Sundays; Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance!; Laugh Whore; Whoopi the 20th Anniversary Show

Buzz: Whoopi or Billy will probably win, for sentimental reasons, but dark horse Mario Cantone should take the prize for his hilarious, fearless Showtime special, Laugh Whore.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Philip Bosco, Twelve Angry Men; Billy Crudup, The Pillowman; Bill Irwin, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; James Earl Jones, On Golden Pond; Brían F. O’Byrne, Doubt

Buzz: My money’s on Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones. As talented as Billy Crudup may be, he still has a few years before he can live down leaving his longtime girlfriend Mary Louise Parker (while eight  months pregnant), who is also nominated this year.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Cherry Jones, Doubt; Laura Linney, Sight Unseen; Mary-Louise Parker, Reckless; Phylicia Rashad, Gem of the Ocean; Kathleen Turner, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Buzz: Turner will probably take this one, although Linney is the most deserving of the bunch. After she was shunned for her sensitive portrayal in the film Kinsey, this may be Broadway’s method of giving her props. 

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Hank Azaria, Monty Python’s Spamalot; Gary Beach, La Cage aux Folles; Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Tim Curry, Monty Python’s Spamalot; John Lithgow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Buzz: Sitcoms, films, the voice of Chief Wiggum on The Simpsons…. Is there anything Hank Azaria can’t do? He’s been kicking around Hollywood for years, so it’s great to see the man of a thousand voices getting some respect. He’s up against some tough male leads, but it’s his competition to lose at this point.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Christina Applegate, Sweet Charity; Victoria Clark, The Light in the Piazza; Erin Dilly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Sutton Foster, Little Women; Sherie Rene Scott, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Buzz: Kelly Bundy taking over Shirley MacLaine’s star-making role? I don’t think so. Count on either Scott or Dilly to take home the statuette this time around.

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater

Edward Albee

Comments: Uh…Arthur Miller, anyone? Remember that guy? Wrote Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, A View From the Bridge, The Crucible? Oh, and he was married to that Marilyn Monroe chick, too. One of American theater’s greats passes away, and he gets diddly-squat from Tony? I guess he should have written some great films and TV shows in order to be recognized this year.

-Michelle Saturley

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