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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

 

Stage Addiction: Why Your Favorite Actress Won't Be Nominated

Today's Stage Addiction continues our handicapping of the Tony Awards, which we kicked off earlier with our assessment of the plays and the musicals. This week gets tougher, though, because we're predicting the Tony-worthy performances of 2007-2008. On some level, it's all about categories. The Tony Awards has very specific rules regarding "Lead" and "Supporting"; essentially, to be considered a "Lead," a performer must be 1) billed in the playbill, 2) ABOVE the title, 3) on opening night.

Period. Finito. End of story. (Sort of.)

See, the Tony Eligibility committee can also review and change performer classifications at will...and they do so frequently. For instance, earlier this year they decided that Cheyenne Jackson, who was not in the opening night program (he was subbing for the injured James Carpinello) will be eligible for Leading Actor.

This combination of hard-and-fast rules and frequent rule-breaking make it both easier and more difficult to predict things. If you've got the billing, we know where you fit....unless they change it. So here's our take on the Women of Broadway:

CONTENDERS for LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Sierra Bogguss, The Little Mermaid (Lunt-Fontanne)
Kerry Butler, Xanadu (Helen Hayes)
Patti LuPone, Gypsy (St. James)
Kelli O'Hara, South Pacific (Lincoln Center)
Laura Osnes, Grease (Brooks Atkinson)
Jessica Molaskey, Sunday in the Park with George (Studio 54)
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair (Walter Kerr)
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George (Studio 54)

First, the omissions. None of the women in Cry-Baby or Young Frankenstein are billed above the title, and Glory Days has no female cast members. Although I've yet to see Passing Strange (yeah, I'm getting to it) and I can't find my playbill for In The Heights, neither piece has had much buzz on the female performances. (Heights is most definitely an ensemble piece except for Lin-Manuel.) So I'm leaving them out, but if you feel that's unfair, please chew me out in the comments.

So of the candidates that I think are in the running, I'm guessing that two of the five slots are already reserved for Patti LuPone (the definite frontrunner) and Kelli O'Hara (who gets nominated almost every time she performs). I haven't seen A Catered Affair yet, but I'd be surprised if an old vet like Faith Prince, returning to Broadway after the better part of a decade, wouldn't score a nomination.

That leaves three candidates for the remaining two slots: Bogguss, Butler, and Russell. (Molaskey's part is too small and lacks color, and the less said about Osnes, the better.) The Little Mermaid is a popular hit, but not critically lauded...and there's an easy argument to be made that she's young enough to have other chances. So if you put all of that together, you come up with the following, which is what I'm going with:

ModFab Early Predix:
Kerry Butler, Xanadu (Helen Hayes)
Patti LuPone, Gypsy (St. James)
Kelli O'Hara, South Pacific (Lincoln Center)
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair (Walter Kerr)
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George (Studio 54)
Alternate: Sierra Bogguss, The Little Mermaid (Lunt-Fontanne)
Long Shot: Jessica Molaskey, Sunday in the Park with George (Studio 54)
Nice Try: Laura Osnes, Grease (Brooks Atkinson)

CONTENDERS for LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Christine Baranski, Boeing-Boeing
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Margaret Colin, Old Acquaintance
Sinead Cusack, Rock 'N' Roll
Claire Danes, Pygmalion
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
Harriet Harris, Old Acquaintance
Laura Linney, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Elizabeth Marvel, Top Girls
Frances McDormand, The Country Girl
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
Rosie Perez, The Ritz
Allison Pill, Mauritius
Martha Plimpton, Cymbeline
Phylicia Rashad, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Anika Noni Rose, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

This is a MUCH harder category to handicap. Why? There are simply more credible possibilities. AND many of them have yet to open (so we don't know the final crediting, or whether they'll be any good). AND few of the women's parts have been adjudicated by the Tony Eligibility board. So this is educated guesses at best...and we'll know a lot more three weeks from now.

I'll start with the plays with no leading part among their female cast members, either obviously so or by program crediting: The 39 Steps, The Seafarer, The Farnsworth Invention and Thurgood. I'd love to think that Is He Dead?'s Jenn Gambatese or November's Laurie Metcalf will be re-evaluated as leads, but I don't see it happening. However, it's clear that Phylicia Rashad -- despite her above-the-title billing in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof -- should be moved to Supporting before the nominations are announced. To further pare the list down, I'll say that in my humble opinion, Danes, Perez, Pill, Plimpton's Cymbeline, and the Old Acquaintance gals will be forgotten in the haze since their shows ran last fall.

Which leaves us with two major sub-groupings, the Seen and the Unseen:

SEEN (Already Open)
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Sinead Cusack, Rock 'N' Roll
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
Anika Noni Rose, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

UNSEEN (Currently In Previews or Rehearsal)
Christine Baranski, Boeing-Boeing
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
Laura Linney, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Elizabeth Marvel, Top Girls
Frances McDormand, The Country Girl

How to choose five, with so many big hitters still unseen? This is what makes it crazy to predict at this point. But since I am nothing if not foolish, here goes:

ModFab Early Predix:
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Laura Linney, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Elizabeth Marvel, Top Girls
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
Frances McDormand,
The Country Girl
Alternate: Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth; Sinead Cusack, Rock 'N' Roll
Long Shot
: Anika Noni Rose, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Christine Baranski, Boeing-Boeing
Nice Try: Eve Best, The Homecoming; S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba

THE SUPPORTING ACTRESS RACES...It's simply way too early, kids. Maybe in April. (Sorry, Stinky!)

NEXT WEEK: THE MEN

Other Addictions:

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4 Comments:

Blogger will g said...

No argument on your assessment (yay!), but I think the rules are shown to be wacky when they allow for TWO female leads in Sunday in the Park. I didn't check, is the Old Lady the other one? Absurd!

4/1/08, 8:35 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

I'm actually afraid Butler isn't a lock on her nomination but I hope she doesn't get passed over for her hilarious over-the-top performance.

Granted, I haven't seen anything else yet but I hope both August women get in within a tough/larger field.

I have this feeling Anika Noni Rose might actually slip through since she seems to be the one resounding great constant in almost all the reviews.

4/1/08, 12:43 PM  
Blogger John T said...

If Laura Linney and Patti LuPone both win Tonys, I WILL spontaneously combust-wowza, wowza, wowza!

4/1/08, 8:44 PM  
Blogger T$ said...

I just saw "The Homecoming" last night...Eve Best is a powerhouse. I hope she gets a nom.

4/3/08, 8:37 PM  

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