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Friday, May 04, 2007


Tony Predictions, Part Two: The Musicals

The musical race for the 2007 Tony Award nominations next wekk will pitch some pretty intense battles royales...art vs. commerce, highbrown vs. lowbrow, movie adaptations vs. movies adaptations vs. movie documentary adaptations. Will Broadway take the low road or the high road? ModFab predicts thusly:

Grey Gardens
Legally Blonde
Mary Poppins
Spring Awakening
Dark Horse: Curtains
Long Shot: LoveMusik
No Shot: Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas, High Fidelity, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, The Pirate Queen, The Times They Are A Changin'

The year's artistic triumphs, Gardens and Awakening, can be taken all the way to the bank. Less clear are the big traditional tentpoles, which need a nomination (at least) to make money on their inevitable national tours. Expect Disney to exert some muscle for Poppins, and for the fizzy pop of Legally Blonde to win out over the more dour offerings of Curtains and LoveMusik.

110 in the Shade
A Chorus Line
Les Miserables
Long Shot: The Apple Tree

With only five revivals produced this year, I'm guessing that the odd one out will be the closed one...The Apple Tree. Expect a Company versus Shade showdown for the award itself.

Michael Cerveris, LoveMusik
Raul Esparza, Company
Jonathan Groff, Spring Awakening
Gavin Lee, Mary Poppins
David Hyde Pierce, Curtains
Dark Horse: Alexander Gemignani, Les Miserables
Long Shot: Christian Borle, Legally Blonde; Bryan d'Arcy James, The Apple Tree; Steve Kazee, 110 in the Shade; Norm Lewis, Les Miserables; Martin Short, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me
No Shot: Michael Arden, The Times They Are A' Changin'; Will Chase, High Fidelity; Hadley Fraser, The Pirate Queen; Patrick Page, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

As solid a five as we're likely to find this year...only a surge for Legally Blonde could really topple it. I can't imagine anything changing this lineup. Only a major surprise, I guess, and those have been known to happen.

Ashley Brown, Mary Poppins
Kristin Chenoweth, The Apple Tree
Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
Audra McDonald, 110 in the Shade
Donna Murphy, LoveMusik
Dark Horse: Laura Bell Bundy, Legally Blonde
Long Shot: Stephanie Block, The Pirate Queen; Lea Michele, Spring Awakening; Debra Monk, Curtains
No Shot: Jenn Collela, High Fidelity; Daphne Rubin-Vega, Les Miserables

You can lock in Ebersole, McDonald, and Murphy, three Broadway stars with many fans and friends among the voters. I'm tempted to say the same for Chenoweth, but her show is long-closed, and that's always an issue. (Still, she's a Broadway baby, and only ill will could push her out.) That leaves a quartet of next-generation actresses vying for only one last slot. Dismiss Stephanie Block right away, because her show will drag her down. I'd also say that Lea Michele will disappear next to the showier work by Bundy and Brown. And although it's been open a while, I think the perky verve of Ashley Brown will age better in voters' memories than the perky mania of Bundy's Elle Woods. So by a thin margin, I'll go with Mary Poppins.

John Cullum, 110 in the Shade
Jason Danieley, Curtains
John Gallagher, Jr., Spring Awakening
Marc Kudisch, The Apple Tree
David Pittu, LoveMusik
Dark Horse: Jeff McCarthy, The Pirate Queen
Long Shot: Brooks Ashmankas, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me; Michael Berresse, A Chorus Line; Matt Cavenaugh, Grey Gardens; Michael Rupert, Legally Blonde
No Shot: Richard H. Blake, Legally Blonde

Cullum is a well-regarded veteran, and Gallagher and Pittu give their musicals their most memorable moments...so count them in. Despite his scenery-chewing performance, I'm betting that perpetual Tony nominee Kudisch will add another to his list. To close out the category, I'm choosing Danieley -- who has the big song in Curtains -- over the heavy lifting of Pirate Queen's McCarthy and comedian Ashmankas in the long-forgotten Martin Short vehicle. But I could easily be wrong here.

Charlotte D'Amboise, A Chorus Line
Heather Laws, Company
Orfeh, Legally Blonde
Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens
Barbara Walsh, Company
Dark Horse: Karen Ziemba, Curtains
Long Shot: Erin Davie, Grey Gardens; Christine Estabrook, Spring Awakening; Capathia Jenkins, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me; Lauren Pritchard, Spring Awakening; The Other Actresses in Company
No Shot: Deidre Goodwin, A Chorus Line; Kate Shindle, Legally Blonde

It would be a crime to overlook d'Amboise's performance in A Chorus Line, and I don't think Tony voters will; likewise, they'll choose to honor longtime also-rans Mary Louise Wilson and Orfeh. Even though Tony winner Karen Ziemba is charming as hell in Curtains and Christine Estabrook is the secret weapon of Spring Awakening, I'm going with the classy options: the two standouts in the company of Company. And for fans of Lauren Pritchard (of which there are many) I can only say...she'll have many other chances.

Richard Eyre, Mary Poppins
John Doyle, Company
Michael Greif, Grey Gardens
Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening
Dark Horse: Jerry Mitchell, Legally Blonde
Long Shots: Scott Ellis, Curtains; Lonny Price, 110 in the Shade; Harold Prince, LoveMusik
No Shot: Gary Griffin, The Apple Tree

A deceptively slippery category, with only one sure thing (Mayer) and a roster of legends and semi-legends vying for spots. The question mark is Hal Prince; although his show isn't directed especially well, he is the most famous theatrical director alive today. I also think Jerry Mitchell, who is beloved in the industry, might find a way to crack the top four. Look for some volatility here on nomination day.

Julian Fellowes, Mary Poppins
Heather Hach, Legally Blonde
Steven Sater, Spring Awakening
Doug Wright, Grey Gardens
Dark Horse: David Lindsay-Abaire, High Fidelity
Long Shot: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Richard Maltby, Jr., The Pirate Queen; Martin Short and Daniel Goldfarb, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me; Alfred Uhry, LoveMusik
No Shot: Rupert Holmes, Curtains

With most of the veteran writers totally blowing it this year -- the Les Miz gang screwed up Pirate Queen, while Parade author Uhry made LoveMusik a mess -- it falls to newcomers to pick up the mantle. So expect Hach and Sater, whose work has been well-regarded by voters, to be among the nominees...as well as Gosford Park Oscar nominee Fellowes and Pulitzer winner Wright. The only wrinkle is if voters choose to remember High Fidelity; if so, this year's Putlizer darling, David Lindsay-Abaire, would be a great way to make a stand.

Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, Grey Gardens
John Kander and Fred Ebb, Curtains
Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me
Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening
Dark Horse: George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (et al), Mary Poppins
Long Shot: Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe, Legally Blonde; Claude-Michel Schonberg, The Pirate Queen
No Shot: Tom Kitt and Amanda Green, High Fidelity

Finally, a pretty easy category to call! The critical darlings of the year are Spring Awakening and Grey Gardens, Marc Shaiman still has street cred on Broadway from Hairspray, and the only bona fide legends in the mix are Kander and Ebb. Despite a Disney-fueled surge for the patchwork Mary Poppins score, nothing else can touch those four.



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