The Tony Awards had the choice between two seasons of Broadway truncated by the pandemic. The Broadway League could have waited and combined the 2019-20 season with the current one, and turned the ceremony into a talent extravaganza in June 2022.
But the Tonys went the alternative, announcing the nominees on October 15, 2020 and now showcasing a rather anemic lineup of potential winners almost a year later in a truncated Winter Garden Theater ceremony to air on CBS on Sunday. September 26.
How bad is the anemia? Essentially by default, Aaron Tveit wins the award for best actor in a musical, for “Moulin Rouge!” I would have been with Isaac Powell on “West Side Story”, but the show was deemed ineligible because not enough Tony voters had seen the revival during its short period between the Feb. 20 grand opening and closing. from theaters on March 11, 2020. Here’s a relevant Broadway fact: Despite the chance to sing “Something’s Coming”, “Tonight”, “Maria” and other classics, no actor playing Tony in “West Side Story” has never been nominated for a Tony.
No more head scratching is the best original sheet music category. None of the three shows nominated for Best Musical (“Jagged Little Pill”, “Moulin Rouge!”, “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”) have an original score, which means that this prize will likely go to a musical. not nominated otherwise. for anything else: “A Christmas Carol,” a limited Broadway vacation engagement with a score by movie composer Christopher Nightingale. Since the albums of the other nominees for Best Original Music have not been released, does a Tony voter actually remember the music that accompanied the non-musical nominees in this category: “The Inheritance”, “The Rose Tattoo ”,“ Slave Play ”or“ The The Sound Inside ”?
Where the rewards aren’t a glaring embarrassment is in Best Play. Jeremy O. Harris’s “Slave Play” should and probably will win, but unlike many other Broadway seasons, the other contenders have considerable merit, most notably Adam Rapp’s “The Sound Inside” and “Grand Horizons” by Bess Wohl but also Simon Stephens and Nick “Sea Wall” / “A Life” by Payne and “The Inheritance” by Matthew Lopez.
Robert O’Hara is expected to win for his sharp direction of “Slave Play”. Then again, Tony’s voters are notoriously Anglophiles and may choose Stephen Daldry for his bombastic direction of “The Inheritance.”
Look for “Slave Play” to continue her winning streak with Ato Blankson-Wood winning Best Featured Actor and Joaquina Kalukango winning Best Actress over Veterans Laura Linney (“My name is Lucy Barton”), Audra McDonald (“Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune “) and Mary-Louise Parker (” The Sound Inside “). Who can argue with a win for the talented Blankson-Wood? But I found John Benjamin Hickey’s turn in “The Inheritance” to be truly remarkable. Among a dozen over-the-top performances in Lopez’s two-part extravagance, Hickey managed to look like a human on stage.
For Best Actor in a Play, Tim Hiddleston in “Betrayal” seems likely to win Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge in “Sea Wall” / “A Life”. No problem there, although “Linda Vista” star Ian Barford might have been the best actor. In 2019-2020, he did the most with the weakest material in a Tracy Letts comedy.
Expect Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” to win the award for best cover of a play and legend Jane Alexander to take home the award for best featured actress in a play, “Grand Horizons”. Not only a sentimental favorite, Alexander proved to be extraordinarily memorable in Wohl’s drama.
Musical categories are much more problematic – especially since a glut of productions was expected to open in March and April until the pandemic lifts the curtain
The overworked Alanis Morissette “Jagged Little Pill” is likely to outdo the drunken “Moulin Rouge! , Winning Best Musical, as well as Best Book (by Diablo Cody) and Best Featured Actress, Lauren Patten, who sings “You Oughta Know” and manages to sound as one would expect from this emerging creature. belly of an astronaut in “Alien” to sing.
There is so much direction in “Moulin Rouge!” that Alex Timbers could beat Diane Paulus, the director of “Jagged Little Pill”, who already has a Tony, for “Pippin” in 2013. And Danny Burstein, after seven nominations and no wins, could break this curse for his turn in as a shrewd guest of the “Moulin Rouge!” Competition from Burstein, however, is fierce. Daniel J. Watts delivers a fascinating Ike Turner in “Tina – the Tina Turner Musical”.
Adrienne Warren is a shoo-in for her incredible starring turn as Tina Turner. Karen Olivo might have given Warren a break – until she retired from “Moulin Rouge!” Filing a public complaint against toxic Broadway producer Scott Rudin, who has nothing to do with the show.