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Thursday, April 29, 2010

 

Stage Addiction: UPDATE, 2010 Tony Predix, Part III (Plays)

UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE APRIL 30 TONY ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE ELIGIBILITY CHANGES:

Time for the big guns, continuing in our series preceding -- and handicapping -- the 2010 Tony Award nominations next week:

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
Fences
Lend Me A Tenor
The Royal Family
A View from the Bridge


Dark Horse: Hamlet
Long Shot: Present Laughter
Also-Rans: The Miracle Worker, Oleanna

Call it the Battle Royal at the Cort -- Broadway's long-suffering "cursed" theatre hosted both of the absolute locks in this category: View with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson, then Fences with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Scrambling for the remaining two spots are the inconsistently funny Tenor, which is inconceivably building audience each week, and two respected shows from last fall, Manhattan Theatre Club's chuckle-worthy Royal Family and Jude Law's transfer of Hamlet. The elegant, old-school casting of Family -- including vets like Rosemary Harris, Tony Robbins and Jan Maxwell -- will give it the razor-thin edge with Broadway nominators.

BEST PLAY
Enron
In The Next Room, or the Vibrator Play
Next Fall

Red

Possible Spoiler:
A Behanding in Spokane
Dark Horse: Collected Stories, Superior Donuts, Time Stands Still
Long Shot: A Steady Rain, Race
Also-Rans: After Miss Julie, Looped, Wishful Drinking

A large, gangly field of candidates in this category, including oddities like Carrie Fisher's solo biography Wishful Drinking and the only Pulitzer finalist to land in New York City to date, In The Next Room. (I don't count the "winner" of the Pulitzer, Next To Normal, as a finalist. Because it wasn't. That was some bullshit dilettantes came up with.) The conventional wisdom heard on 42nd Street is that Next Fall and Red are certainties, and I agree. Enron was a near-lock...until the so-so reviews came out. (I think it'll still squeak into contention, but it'll be a close race between it and another play with mixed reviews, A Behanding in Spokane.) I think In The Next Room will play well in the memories of the nominators, and as Lincoln Center's only shot at a nomination, it would be hard to pass up.

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Rupert Goold, Enron
Michael Grandage, Red
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge
Kenny Leon, Fences

Possible Spoiler: David Mamet, Race; Stanley Tucci, Lend Me A Tenor
Dark Horses: John Crowley, A Steady Rain; John Crowley, A Behanding In Spokane; Michael Grandage, Hamlet; Doug Hughes, The Royal Family; Tina Landau, Superior Donuts; Daniel Sullivan, Time Stands Still
Long Shots: David Cromer, Brighton Beach Memoirs; Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall; Lynne Meadow, Collected Stories; Les Waters, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play
Also-Rans: Mark Brokaw, After Miss Julie; Doug Hughes, Oleanna; Nicholas Martin, Present Laughter; Rob Ruggiero, Looped; Tony Taccone, Wishful Drinking; Kate Whoriskey, The Miracle Worker

It's in cases like this where you start to realize that Tonys are not a recognition of artistic excellence, but a haven for industry politics. The presence of two celebrities in the category, both relative newbies to directing -- playwright David Mamet, actor Stanley Tucci -- will test the nominators' ability to resist star power. (Both did competent work. Neither should be nominated.) Furthermore, the actual "best" effort in this category -- Waters' beautiful, streamlined, imaginative take on In The Next Room -- isn't even in contention. In the end, bet on the flashy pyrotechnics of Goold, the passionate drama of Grandage, and the elegant tragedy of Mosher. Flip a coin for the fourth slot, which I'm giving to Leon, who deserves some reward at this point in his career.

Tomorrow: The Musicals!!!
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2 Comments:

Blogger bettekate said...

In selecting "Next to Normal" for the Pulitzer Prize, those so-called "dilettantes" (highly respected theater critics/experts all) made the right choice, in honoring the most daring, brilliant musical of the past three decades. Audiences are overwhelmed every night because the show may about mental illness on the surface, but it is more deeply about grief, the true nature of what it means to be part of a family. I've seen 'em all, over 700 shows over the past 30 years, and can't think of a finer selection than Next to Normal.

5/1/10, 11:19 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

While I'll let others judge your assessment of NEXT TO NORMAL as the best piece of theatre in the last three decades (!!!), I do feel the need to tell you that the Pulitzer Board -- who are not theatre artists or in the industry -- overrode the suggestions of the expert panel this year.

The Putlizer Theatre panel chose THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY and IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY as the finalists for 2010. Their expert decision was then voided by the Pulitzer Board, who chose to honor NEXT TO NORMAL instead. They did so after receiving free tickets to attend the show the night before on Broadway.

The Pulitzer is a script award, not a production award; it is easy to guess that to the untrained Pulitzer Board's eyes, the production values of Next To Normal -- the only show considered that they actually saw performed, in clear violation of the spirit of the Pulitzer as a writing award -- swayed the dilettantes to override the expert opinion of storied theatre industry professionals.

Good choice, bad choice, that's how it went down. It's been widely documented, if you want to Google it.

5/2/10, 7:30 PM  

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