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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Stage Addiction: The Earliest Tony Predictions In History!

http://www.inentertainment.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/tony_award288.gifWith award season swinging into action, it's time for ModFab's weekly Broadway series to return! But let's be clear at the outset -- it's waaaaaaay too early to be making predictions about what shows and performers will win Tonys next June. Heck, many of the big contenders haven't even opened! How could we possibly know what's going on?

We can't. And we don't.

But that's not going to stop us. Because this year, we're armed with inside-the-industry gossip, blogger chutzpah, and three intrepid "Broadway Experts": a house manager for a major Broadway institution, a singer with deep connections in the producers' offices, and an arts professional who regularly interacts with the publicists up and down the Rialto. Together, we'll be handicapping, prognosticating, truthtelling, and most of all, revising...all the way up to Tony Night in June. So let's get started!

We're beginning today with the eligible candiates for Best New Play and Revival of a Play.

33 Variations
Dividing The Estate
God Of Carnage
Irena's Vow
reasons to be pretty
To Be Or Not To Be

Four nominations will eventually be culled from these seven candidates, which include three premieres, one London transfer, and three upstarts from Off-Broadway. You can strike To Be Or Not To Be immediately, because, frankly, it sucked major ass. For now, I'll also eliminate Impressionism, which has terrible buzz after a withering attack by a gossip columnist (but I wouldn't trust that...not yet, at least).

33 Variations recently opened to good-but-not-great reviews, as did Dividing The Estate late last year. Similar reactions were had by the original 2008 incarnations of Irena's Vow and reasons to be pretty. God of Carnage won big in the West End, and previews are generating great word of mouth.

In our experts' discussion, they noted the recent death of Horton Foote, a semi-legend whose demise might engender enough sentiment to help Dividing's chances. The Broadway debut of writer/director Neil Labute brings a certain attention to reasons, which also has the distinction of being the most controversial contender with the raciest subject matter. (Fat girls. Again.) But if I've learned anything in life, it's this: for Oscar nominations, never bet against Streep, and for the Tonys, never bet against Jews. Which means that I think Irena's Vow, a sometimes sleepy play wrapped around a great true story (about a woman rebelling against the Nazis during WWII), will take the fourth slot.

House Mgr Predix : 33 Variations, Dividing, Carnage, reasons
Singer Predix : 33 Variations, Dividing, Carnage, reasons
Arts Pro Predix : 33 Variations, Dividing, Carnage, reasons
ModFab Predix : 33 Variations, Dividing, Carnage, Irena's Vow

Accent on Youth
All My Sons
American Buffalo
The American Plan
Blithe Spirit
Desire Under The Elms
Exit The King
Hedda Gabler
Joe Turner's Come and Gone
A Man For All Seasons
Mary Stuart
The Norman Conquests
The Philanthropist
The Seagull
Waiting For Godot

Yep, you read that right....SEVENTEEN contenders for Best Revival! And of them, only half of them have opened. The brutal reviews for Hedda Gabler and American Buffalo make it easy to dismiss them. All My Sons, Equus, The American Plan and A Man For All Seasons fared better with the critics (and at the box office), but none made a lasting impression...and are quickly becoming distant memories in a crowded field.

But last fall did include two lasting contenders: the much-publicized revival of David Mamet's Speed-The-Plow, and the acclaimed revival of Chekhov's The Seagull. Opening just last Sunday was Blithe Spirit, which seems to be more popular for its star turns (by Angela Lansbury, Jayne Atkinson and Rupert Everett, in that order) than as a Best Revival candidate. Still, don't count it out yet.

One can't tell much about the shows that are still in rehearsal, other than to say that they are the starriest of the bunch: Accent on Youth (David Hyde Pierce), The Philanthropist (Matthew Broderick), Waiting For Godot (Nathan Lane), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Arliss Howard) and Mary Stuart (Janet McTeer). Word on the street? It's good for Exit The King and the Chicago-borne transfer of Desire Under The Elms.

For our expert panel, the big question was The Norman Conquests, the comic trilogy by Alan Ayckbourn coming next month to Circle in the Square in what seems to be a press blackout. Is it good? What is it, exactly? Why is it? Many questions...perhaps too many. Our panel, working with limited information, gave it their best shot.

House Mgr Predix : Desire, Joe Turner, Mary Stuart, Speed-The-Plow
Singer Predix : Blithe, Mary Stuart, Speed-The-Plow, Godot
Arts Pro Predix : Blithe, Mary Stuart, Speed-The-Plow, Godot
ModFab Predix : Desire, Exit The King, Mary Stuart, Godot

Coming Next Week: The Musicals!
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Blogger Esther said...

Never bet against the Jews?! Okay, you made me laugh. But isn't the title character in "Irena's Vow" Catholic? ;-)

3/17/09, 12:11 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

I was about to see one of The Norman Conquests plays but was too tired when I arrived in London but luckily my friends who went said I didn't miss much. Cute and amusing but nothing grand, and the general reviews I read were about the same, so I'm surprised it seems to have made a bigger (if mysterious) buzz around NY. The concept sounds neat though, almost as neat as House and Garden.

3/17/09, 1:02 AM  
Blogger par3182 said...

hooray for the return of stage addiction!

i'm with the house mgr so far

3/17/09, 2:32 AM  
Blogger gabrieloak said...

Has The Philanthropist of The Norman Conquests played on Broadway before? If not, why would they be called revivals?

3/18/09, 12:24 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

Gabrieloak, both are revival because they previously played Broadway. NORMAN in 1975, PHILANTHROPIST in 1971.


3/18/09, 10:52 AM  

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