Sunday, May 16, 2010

Professional Tony Handicapping, part 1

The New York Times' two major theater critics, Charles Isherwood and Ben Brantley, have put in their two cents on the current Tony race.  As is to be expected, in some cases I agree with them and in others I disagree.  In some cases, their pics will affect my opinion and, in others, not.  I will list their choices here and give my commentary as I go.  Given how long it takes to type out all the information, I will give only a few categories in each post and add new posts every few hours.

Ben Brantley said -- Will Win: Red,  Should Win: Next Fall
I think Brantley may be on to something when he says that Red will take home the prize, but I think that this play's only competition comes from Time Stands Still, not Next Fall.  Isherwood agrees that Red will win, which makes me think I should change my prediction away from Time Stands Still in it's favor.

Brantley -- Will Win: Memphis, Should Win: Fela!     Isherwood -- Will Win: Fela!, Should Win: American Idiot

I think that Brantley definitely has the right two as his short list, though I go back and forth by the minute as to which I think will win.  My gut reaction when I heard the nominations list was that the prize would go to Memphis because, while both it and Fela! definitely got the strongest reviews of the season as far as new musicals are concerned, Fela! may be seen as too non-traditional to win.  Though, it may just be the non-traditional quality that gives it the edge with Tony voters, many of whom are producers of national tours who may want something less traditional to take on the road.

Play Revival:
Both critics agreed that Fences will win this category, but that A View From the Bridge SHOULD win.  These are the two productions that I picked as my final two in the category.  Fences has the advantage over A View From the Bridge in that it is still open, while Bridge closed April 4th.  The acting and direction in both productions was equally praised (each show has three acting nominations, including both a Hollywood star and a Tony winner in each show).  Fences, though, has the upper hand in that Kenny Leon is a well known powerhouse director, having directed the successful revival of A Raisin In the Sun as well as August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean a few seasons back.  While Mosher, director of Bridge, has three previous nominations to his credit, his name (unlike Leon's) is not known to the same extent, as far as I am aware.

Musical Revival:
Both critics picked La Cage Aux Folles as the "will win" in this category, and Brantley also said it is the one that should win, though Isherwood says that Finian's Rainbow is the one that should win.  I have to agree with Isherwood on this one -- while I no longer think that it will win, it is definitely the best of the revivals out there this year.  Ragtime has going for it that it is a sentimental favorite whose original production lost the Best Musical title to The Lion King even though it won for its book and score.  Night Music and La Cage are the only two revivals still open, leaving them with the best shots in the category. If the previous revival of La Cage, which the critics say is significantly worse than the current revival, can win the revival Tony, why not go with Isherwood and Brantley here and agree with them?

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