It’s going to be an unusually competitive year for the Tony Awards, with almost all of the top prizes up in the air. Below are some thoughts on key categories:
This race has become closer than anyone originally imagined. “Matilda,” which absolutely deserves to win, is still the front-runner. However, the far inferior “Kinky Boots” has picked up a great deal of enthusiasm. Although some have cited backlash against the British pedigree of “Matilda,” isn’t “Kinky Boots” based on a British film?
“Lucky Guy” is doing big business (thanks to Tom Hanks, of course) and, as the late Nora Ephron’s last play, it has sentimental value. “The Assembled Parties” is the best Richard Greenberg play in years. However, the brilliant, uproarious and heartfelt “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is still expected to take the prize.
Revival of a Play
It’s a three-way toss-up among “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (which received great reviews, but did lackluster business and has already closed), “Golden Boy” (a lavish revival at the Lincoln Center Theater that was also a limited run) and “The Trip to Bountiful” (a weak production bolstered by strong performances). Since “Bountiful” is still running, it has the edge.
Revival of a Musical
“Pippin” will win. Moving on…
Tim Minchin deserves to win for his songs in “Matilda,” which are innovative and memorable. However, Cyndi Lauper has become the odds-on favorite, even though her work in “Kinky Boots” is tacky and generic. If she won, she would apparently be the first woman who wrote both music and lyrics to win Best Score.
Actor in a Play
David Hyde Pierce (who undeservedly received a Tony in 2007 for “Curtains”) now actually does deserve an award for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” particularly for his breathless monologue in Act Two. However, Tom Hanks is giving a solid performance in “Lucky Guy” and has really made a real effort to become part of the Broadway community in recent weeks.
Actress in a Play
Kristine Nielsen is uproarious and thoroughly moving in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” However, that is really an ensemble play in which she is sharing the spotlight with others. “The Trip to Bountiful” revolves entirely around Cicely Tyson, who is luminous as an elderly woman striving to somehow return to her childhood home.
Actor in a Musical
It’s a race between two men in drag: Billy Porter in “Kinky Boots” and Bertie Carvel in “Matilda.” While Caravel’s performance as the villainous Miss Trunchbull is deliciously detailed and perfectly grotesque, Porter imbues his character with both a fierce diva attitude and credible vulnerability.
Actress in a Musical
It’s a race between two incredibly talented young women: Laura Osnes for “Cinderella” and Patina Miller for “Pippin.” Osnes is the favorite, mainly due to the fact that “Cinderella” is so uneven in tone that it makes her look like the show’s saving grace, whereas “Pippin” is so spectacular that Miller might be taken for granted. Osnes has also come a long way since winning a role in “Grease” through a reality television show.
On TV: The Tony Awards air Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS/2.