May 2, 2002

Give My Regards to Broadway

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It’s that time of year again when New Yorkers go ballistic over the theatre season. The Drama Desk Nominations have come out, and the Outer Critics Nominations have been released. The Tony Awards are coming up June 2, and nominations will come out next week. Here are my predictions for who’s taking home the Tony vs. who should take home the Tony.

Best Play

The main competition here is between Topdog/Underdog, and Metamorphosis. Topdog recently grabbed the Pulitzer Prize, which is usually a pretty clear indicator of Tony awards as well (though not always). Mary Zimmerman’s stunning adaptation of Metamorphosis is also wowing the critics, but may be too high-brow for voters. The Graduate is nothing special and won’t gather much clout. Alan Alda will be nominated for QED, but the show won’t be. Albee’s controversial The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? is gathering raves from some, but hisses from others. Zimmerman will take the Tony for best director of a play, but Topdog should edge out Metamorphosis for the coveted Best Play Tony in the end.

Best Revival of a Play

This is hands down the steepest competition of any category. There were a whopping eleven revivals of plays this year on Broadway. With the exception of 1000 Clowns, Major Barbara, and The Man with all the Luck, all of them opened to rave reviews. Alan Rickman is getting accolades for Private Lives, as are Frank Langella and Alan Bates in Fortune’s Fool. Kate Burton is stunning in The Elephant Man, but she’s going to walk away with Best Actress for her performance in Hedda Gabler. Ian McKellen and Helen Mirrin will also get nods for Dance of Death.

But the race is between The Crucible, Mornings at Seven and Noises Off. Richard Eyre’s graceful direction of The Crucible is a crowd pleaser, with a powerhouse performance by Liam Neeson. It will also get a nod for best set design, and supporting actor for Brian Murray. Mornings is getting a lot of recognition for Elizabeth Franz. And Michael Frayn’s gem Noises Off has audiences pissing themselves every night in laughter. This is a tough one to call. What will win? Probably Mornings at Seven. What should win? Noises Off or The Crucible.

Best Revival of a Musical

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece Into the Woods is back on Broadway, arguably his most carefully constructed and most brilliant show, behind Sweeney Todd. The bad news is that Oklahoma! is up against it. What is the better show? Woods. What is the more entertaining show? Woods. What is the show with better music, more interesting characters, and a powerful story line that actually makes you think when you leave the theatre? Woods. And what’s going to win? Oklahoma!.

Unfortunately, Tony voters have a hard on for Susan Stroman, the director/choreographer of the latter. I’ll give it to her that her dance work is exceptional, and her restaging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tuner is brilliant and inspired. So I say give her the choreography Tony (her sixth, mind you). Unfortunately, the show will probably also walk away with best revival, though Woods is the far superior show. I mean, come on, does anyone actually like Oklahoma!?

Best Musical

The main contenders are Thoroughly Modern Millie and Urinetown. Millie may give Oklahoma! some competition for choreography. Sutton Foster, who plays Millie, is also a shoo-in for best Actress. But Urinetown will take home the Tony for musical. It will also win for best book of a musical. The brilliant fourth-wall-bending audience defamation is both a testament to its own slyness, and a self-mockery of its own schmaltz. Sweet Smell of Success has its share of mixed reviews, and Mamma Mia is crap on a stick.

Unfortunately, all of the best new music was from the Off Broadway scene this past season. Jonathan Larson’s Tick Tick