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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Stage Addiction: Best Actor Stuff

This week, we preview the men who make it all happen...the Tony-contending men! Enjoy the handicapping goodness, and stay tuned for a special video treat at the end!


Kevin Anderson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Hank Azaria, The Farnsworth Invention
Norbert Leo Butz, Is He Dead?
Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius
Michael Cerveris, Cymbeline
Kevin Chamberlin, The Ritz
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Morgan Freeman, The Country Girl
Terrence Howard, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Nathan Lane, November
Jefferson Mays, Pygmalion
Ian McShane, The Homecoming
David Morse, The Seafarer
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'N' Roll
Jimmi Simpson, The Farnsworth Invention
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth

No Lead Male Performer: Top Girls, The 39 Steps, August: Osage County, Old Acquaintance

Previews just began for Thurgood, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Country Girl, Macbeth and soon we'll have Boeing-Boeing, too. Since I've yet to see any of them (can next week come quickly, please????), I feel very shaky as to who might be in this mix for Tony nominations. The leading men of all five plays are serious contenders...and based on the run at B.A.M., I'd guess that Patrick Stewart is already a lock.

The year's leading men (so far) haven't been all that amazing; many of the performances were more coolly admired by the rialto's tastemakers, rather than loved. I'd be surprised, for instance, if last fall's star turns by Anderson, Mays, Sewell, Cerveris, Cannavale or Chamberlin have lasted in voters' memory.

Who might still have their chance at the glory? Certainly Nathan Lane is keeping the house of November full on his name alone. (The play hasn't been as well received, despite some half-hearted praise from the Times.) The twin titans of The Farnsworth Invention, Jimmi Simpson and Hank Azaria, were liked more than the play was. Terrence Howard isn't very good as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof's Brick, but he's undoubtedly a movie star, and he's filling up the Broadhurst every single night. (Unlike Oscar voters, who tend to honor small art-house fare seen by few actual people, Tony voters prefer big fat hits when filling out a ballot.) Arguably the most complex male performances of the season were Ian McShane's fine work in The Homecoming and David Morse's gloomy ride through The Seafarer. Both shows sadly opened (and closed) in the shadow of August: Osage County, and perhaps didn't get the credit or success they were due. Finally, I'm sure there are some die-hards out there who still carry a torch for Norbert Leo Butz, who went out on a comic ledge for Is He Dead?

Still, I think the flurry of activity around the new shows will drown out memories of the old. And although I wouldn't bet more than a buck on these picks at the moment, I'm going with:

ModFab Early Predix:
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Morgan Freeman, The Country Girl
Nathan Lane, November
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth
Alternates: Hank Azaria, The Farnsworth Invention; Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood; Ian McShane, The Homecoming; Rufus Sewell, Rock 'N' Roll; Jimmi Simpson, The Farnsworth Invention
Long Shot: Norbert Leo Butz, Is He Dead?; Terrence Howard, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; David Morse, The Seafarer
Nice Try: Kevin Anderson, Come Back, Little Sheba; Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius; Michael Cerveris, Cymbeline; Kevin Chamberlin, The Ritz; Jefferson Mays, Pygmalion


Roger Bart, Young Frankenstein
Max Crumm, Grease
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George
Cheyenne Jackson, Xanadu
Boyd Gaines*, Gypsy
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights
Sean Palmer, The Little Mermaid
James Snyder, Cry-Baby
Stew, Passing Strange
Paolo Szot*, South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair
?, Glory Days

Hedging The Bets: Although Gaines and Szot are not above-the-title leads in their productions, I'm guessing the Tony Eligibility Committee will make exceptions in both cases. And since there is no announced casting yet for Glory Days, I've got no idea what the fuck is going on with that irritating little blight on my otherwise flawless awards prognostication.

First, to Max Crumm, James Snyder and Sean Palmer: thanks for playing our game, gentlemen. We have some lovely parting gifts for you backstage.

Now, to the big boys' club. With everything but Glory Days available for public consumption at this point (and with your humble editor having seen everything except Catered Affair already), it's easier to guess the frontrunners. I think you can definitely write down Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stew's names on your ballot; both men are actor-creators of their respective shows, and they are both the buzzworthy musicals of the season. I'm also going to suggest that Daniel Evans is a near-lock; although the show is not universally loved, it's a showy enough part to attract voters' attention in the nominating process.

That leaves us two slots left and five names to go in them: Bart, Jackson, Wopat and (admittedly questionably) Gaines and Szot. It's easy to see that the legit newcomer, Mr. Szot, is probably the odd man out; only a South Pacific sweep could carry him past the four more-experienced veterans. And while we're excising my future husbands, let's wave goodbye to Cheyenne, whose turn in Xanadu is too light and silly to get much awards traction.

Speaking of light and silly, there's the question of Young Frankenstein. How much clout does this faltering musical still have? Enough to get Bart, who is phoning it in and is reputedly very unhappy in the show, a Tony nomination? I think no...he's up against two Tony-friendly veterans in Wopat (Glengarry Glen Ross) and Gaines (Journey's End), and my guess is they'll flesh out the category in style.

ModFab Early Predix:
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George
Boyd Gaines*, Gypsy
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights
Stew, Passing Strange
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair
Alternates: Roger Bart, Young Frankenstein; Paolo Szot*, South Pacific
Long Shots: Cheyenne Jackson, Xanadu; ?, Glory Days
Nice Try: Max Crumm, Grease; Sean Palmer, The Little Mermaid; James Snyder, Cry-Baby

Other Addictions:
August: Osage County wins Pulitzer; Yellowface, Dying City are runners-up
Brigadoon to Rise from the Broadway Mist in 2009
Kidman, Dench May Join the Cast of Hollywood's Nine
Leguizamo in Talks to star in new American Buffalo on Broadway
Sunday in the Park extends thru June; South Pacific gets open-ended run

and posted specifically for the pleasure of my girl Tiffany...
So You Think You Can Dance's Neil Haskell Joins the Cast of Altar Boyz Off-Broadway

and posted specifically for everyone who wants to be nine people's favorite thing...

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Blogger par3182 said...

has a herbie from gypsy ever been promoted to lead before?

i'd wager szot is a big chance with all the south pacific raves

4/8/08, 4:35 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

What about Daniel Breaker from Passing Strange for lead actor in a musical? I thought he was wonderful!

4/8/08, 11:20 AM  
Blogger will g said...

I'm really trying to understand these arcane Tony rules for the first time. So if Playbill or whoever doesn't print their name above the title, the two undisputed leads in South Pacific are demoted to supporting categories without an appeal? Or the committee just corrects the flaw on its own? Either way it seems even stupider than the way the Oscars divvy up the categories.

4/8/08, 2:07 PM  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I know the rules are mystifying, but I thought Tom Wopat is in a supporting role, as is Boyd Gaines. And I agree with Esther that Daniel Breaker should not be overlooked.

4/8/08, 7:47 PM  
Blogger ModFab said...

PAR: Don't know the history of the Herbies. That would be an interesting project for some intrepid reader, I think! But rarely has a star of Boyd Gaines' magnitude taken the role on...usually, it's just the Rose who brings all the clout.

ESTHER: Haven't seen PASSING STRANGE yet (next week), so I don't have a playbill yet. Is Breaker billed above the title? I know he's good, but I assumed he wouldn't be competing with Stew.

WILL: The committee determines eligibility. Look at it this way: if you're above the title, you're definitely a lead if you want to be. If you're below the title, you still might be. Everybody wins! (Sort of.)

STEVE: Tom Wopat is billed on the posters above the title...and I thought it was Harvey who was the supporting role, right? And regarding Boyd, as I said in the post, it will take an act of the committee to have Boyd regarded as a lead. If not, well...I'll adjust the list accordingly. I don't see anyone else sticking their neck out on picks prior to committee rulings, do you? :-)

4/8/08, 9:10 PM  
Blogger par3182 said...

i did the herbie research myself - three of the previous four herbies have been nominated for featured actor (the 1974 herbie missed out); none of them have won

i suspect gaines will land a featured nod and, being the tony magnet he is, win

4/8/08, 11:52 PM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Can I play, too? Butz, Fishburne, Freeman, Morse, Stewart, with McShane and Sewell on the outside. And maybe Daniels - who I only remember from that movie where he fell in love with a leopard and got naked and burned a stick and painted spots all over his body. I'm not kidding.

4/9/08, 12:19 AM  
Blogger will g said...

In my dither about the categories I overlooked the fact that you don't see your boyfriend as a lock to be nominated at all. That is where I'd really take issue with you. Brantley still has some clout on the Rialto!

4/9/08, 1:46 AM  
Blogger will g said...

Sorry, I forgot you're a polygamist these days; by boyfriend I mean Szot.

4/9/08, 1:50 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

No, Daniel Breaker's not above the title. I was just going on more of a gut observation - he seemed like the lead actor in the show! The Playbill says starring Stew, so I guess he's the lead. It's funny, I didn't really think of him acting so much in his role as narrator. I thought of him as looking on with the rest of us while his story was being acted out. He was just being himself.

4/9/08, 11:33 AM  

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