There is no such thing as a “normal” season on Broadway anymore.
On Sunday, June 8, the Tony Awards telecast will pay homage to a 2014-15 Broadway roster that included few new “book” musicals deemed Tony-worthy, and a load of star-driven revivals.
Acclaimed turns by Denzel Washington (“A Raisin in the Sun”) and Daniel Radcliffe (“The Cripple of Inishmaan”) didn’t make the Tony cut. But there is still plenty to root for/against among the nominees, and the ceremony (hosted by Broadway/movie star Hugh Jackman) will include the splashy musical numbers that make this one of the best annual variety bashes on TV.
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New Musical: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” a nimble, witty romp about a young climber killing his way to the top of a British clan, has the most nominations of any show (10), and is a big favorite. “Beautiful,” a bio-jukebox musical based on the life of singer-songwriter Carole King, or Disney’s “Aladdin,” may be a dark-horse victor, but Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” (very mixed reviews), and “After Midnight” (terrific revue, no book) won’t be.
New Play: The odds-on favorite is “All the Way” by Seattle writer Robert Schenkkan, a riveting panorama of the first year of Lyndon Johnson’s eventful presidency. James Lapine’s “Act One,” Harvey Fierstein’s “Casa Valentina,” John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar” and Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” — all by former Tony winners and Broadway vets — don’t have the ambition or notoriety to overcome Schenkkan’s script.
Musical Revival: It’s a toss-up between favored transgender rock-out “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Violet,” the sensitive fable about a disfigured young woman’s quest for healing. (“Les Misérables” will likely get the been-there, done-that treatment from Tony voters.)
Play Revival: Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” in a lovely, period-perfect rendition from London’s Globe Theatre, was an undisputed highlight of the season, particularly Mark Rylance’s superb gender-switching turn as Lady Olivia. The other nominees (revivals of “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan”) were well-received, but not so deliciously surprising.
Lead Actor, Play: There’s little doubt Bryan Cranston’s flashy Broadway debut as LBJ in “All the Way” will nab the prize. In a very unlikely upset, Chris O’Dowd of “Of Mice and Men” might triumph — or, for their fine work, Tony Shalhoub (“Act One”), Samuel Barnett (“Twelfth Night”), Mark Rylance (“Richard III”).
Lead Actress, Play: Labeling the song-studded “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” a play rather than a musical is a stretch, but a likely record-setting win for glowing star Audra McDonald. Tyne Daly (“Mothers and Sons”), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (“A Raisin in the Sun”), Cherry Jones (“The Glass Menagerie”) and Estelle Parsons (“The Velocity of Autumn”) win mucho respect, but not the prize.
Lead Actress, Musical: Most competitive category. Leading divas and former Tony winners Sutton Foster (“Violet”), Idina Menzel (“If/Then”) and Kelli O’Hara (“The Bridges of Madison County”) are duking it out, alongside newcomers Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful”) and Mary Bridget Davies (“A Night with Janis Joplin”). A toss-up, but Mueller could sneak in for the win.
Lead Actor, Musical: Broadway loves the unexpected, and that includes Tony Awards-host-in-rotation Neil Patrick Harris donning miniskirts and belting punky tunes, in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The way is paved for Harris: deserving Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham from “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” probably will cancel each other out, and Ramin Karimloo (“Les Misérables”) and Andy Karl (“Rocky”) are longshots.
Misha Berson: email@example.com