Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Featured Actresses

This year is a great year for featured (supporting) actresses in plays.  Not only was there a large number of performances that naturally fit the category, such as Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ophelia in Hamlet, Zoe Kazan in A Behanding in Spokane, and Kate Buddeke in Superior Donuts, but a number of performances that straddle the border between lead and featured have been relegated by the Tony committee to the featured category, most notably Jessica Hecht and Scarlett Johansson in A View From the Bridge.  The best way to start, I think, will be to list as many of the eligible performances in this category as I can.  This list includes what I know about the shows that have already opened and the shows that are coming up in the coming months.  Since I don't know much about either Lips Together, Teeth Apart or Lend Me a Tenor, I can't predict what the likelihood is that any nominations will go to those shows.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hamlet
Zoe Kazan, A Behanding in Spokane
Kate Buddeke, Superior Donuts
Harriet Harris, Present Laughter
Lisa Banes, Present Laughter
Viola Davis, Fences
Jessica Hecht, A View From the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View From the Bridge
Alicia Silverstone, Time Stands Still
Abigail Breslin, The Miracle Worker
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family

Based on this list, there are some clear nominees and some clear also-rans.  Unfortunately, there are only five nomination slots and I can count at least eleven major contenders for those spots, meaning that some of the above list has to go.  The first to go is Gugu Mbatha-Raw who played Ophelia opposite Jude Law's Hamlet.  While the show got good reviews, Mbatha-Raw did NOT.  For such an important role, to have the actress playing her be discussed as being bad (instead of praised or ignored entirely) bodes terribly for the actress playing her.  Buddeke was not really buzzed about for her performance in Superior Donuts, so I think she has no chance at a Tony nomination.  The two ladies in Present Laughter received some good buzz for their performances, but I doubt it was strong enough to get them nominated given their competition this year, particularly for Harris who won a featured actress Tony in 2002 as Mrs. Meers in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.  As for Viola Davis, she is a talented actress who is well respected in the theater community, but her show has yet to open.  Once it does, I might add her to my list of predicted nominees but, until then, I can't in good faith predict her.  That leaves the last five nominees in my list, each of whom got stellar reviews in the popular press, making them the easy choices so far for nomination.  The weakest two on my predictions list for this category are Alicia Silverstone and Abigail Breslin, two Hollywood stars whose praise may be as much based on being star struck than talent.  Once Fences opens, if Viola Davis is well enough praised, she will definitely get one of the two slots taken by Breslin and Silverstone.  Until then, my official picks are:

Jessica Hecht, A View From the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View From the Bridge
Alicia Silverstone, Time Stands Still
Abigail Breslin, The Miracle Worker
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family

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