Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 Tony Musings

The Tony nominations are out and everyone seems to have an opinion. Including myself. Here are my musings, mostly about the musical nominees since I’ve been able to see most of them. So, in no particular order:

  1. Best Musical – Right now The Book of Mormon is the clear-cut favorite, a critical and commercial hit. Some people seemed surprised that The Scottsboro Boys was included on the list since it only played 49 performances before closing last December, but that show was riveting theater and definitely deserved one of the nominated slots. It is a shame the musical is still not playing. First, because it was a solid, thought-provoking production. Second, it would have made a real race out of the Best Musical award. As for now, in a season populated by mediocre offerings, The Book of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys were the two sure bets for nominations. While I do believe The Book of Mormon will win the Tony for Best Musical of the Year, don’t count out The Scottsboro Boys.

  2. Best Original Score – A lot is being made of the fact that this is the first time in 14 years where this category features completely original scores. While I applaud, this is no standing ovation moment since, besides The Book of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys, the other nominated scores are blase at best. One score that should have been selected was for the play, War Horse. Adrian Sutton’s music heightens the emotion and tension of the show. I would have also liked to see Wonderland get a nod. Yes, it’s not a great show, but the score is more consistently entertaining then most this season. The winner? Probably The Book of Mormon, but wouldn’t it be nice for the last John Kander/Fred Ebb Broadway score, to be recognized?

  3. Interesting that there were only two musical revivals this year when, in year’s past, it seemed most musicals that opened during a season were revivals.

  4. I have seen my fair share of the non-musicals this year. For me, clearly, the most outstanding production was War Horse. I haven’t been as moved and entertained by a show in years. My pick for Best Play.

  5. Jerusalem seems to be the darling of the critics. As my review attests, it wasn’t one of my favs. Friends that went with me wholeheartedly agreed. Reading reviews and other comments on the show I can’t help think of the Emperor’s New Clothes. People seem to see something that just isn’t there.

  6. Best Actor in a Musical – Tough category! But first, who didn’t get a nomination? How about Aaron Tveit? How could the Tony Committee not select him for Catch Me If You Can? While nominee Norbert Leo Butz is one of my favorite actors, Tveit deserved recognition for his portrayal of the wily and energetic conman, Frank Abagnale, Jr. Next, Benjamin Walker from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. His charismatic swagger and confidence was what made the show. Lastly, Daniel Ratcliffe. Give him kudos for jumping into a musical comedy role, but his performance in How to Succeed in Business was adequate at best. I thought it was rather ridiculous to read one writer complain about his snub because he had put in so many months learning how to sing and dance. If that’s all it took! So, who will win? My vote, drum roll please, goes to Joshua Henry from The Scottsboro Boys. He was the powerful core to that show. Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad from The Book of Mormon were hysterically funny, but Joshua Henry was the very soul of The Scottsboro Boys.

  7. Best Actress in a Musical – No debate: Sutton Foster wins Tony number two.

  8. Best Featured Actor in a Musical – Even tougher then Best Actor. Again, a face-off between The Book of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys. I was not impressed with John Larroquette’s J.B. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business. Adam Godley was fine as the eccentric Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes, but neither were of the caliber of Rory O’Malley from The Book of Mormon and Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon from The Scottsboro Boys. The latter three were simply outstanding—O’Malley as the hilarious Elder McKinley in The Book of Morman and Domingo and McClendon as, respectively, Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, among other characters they played, in The Scottsboro Boys. Any one of them would be a fine choice with me, but as more of a musical-comedy person, I’d like to see O’Malley win.

  9. Best Direction/Choreography of a Musical – It used to be that a director directed and a choreographer choreographed. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for both positions to be filled by the same person. Such is the case this year where all four nominees for Best Director and Best Choreographer are one and the same (the exception being Trey Parker who is nominated as a co-director of The Book of Mormon, but not as a Best Choreographer). I was unimpressed with Rob Ashford, from How to Succeed in Business, in both categories. For director, it will probably be The Book of Mormon juggernaut with Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, but my vote would go to Susan Stroman for The Scottsboro Boys. I just think she brought more directorial vision to that production. Kathleen Marshall should snag the choreographer award for Anything Goes, just for the scintillating dance number to end Act I.

The last comment/question is will The Book of Mormon, with 14 nominations, break or tie The Producers for most Tonys (they won 12)? It will be tough, but even though there could be significant competition from The Scottsboro Boys, Tony voters like to go with a winner and The Book of Mormon is most certainly a bona fide winner. We’ll have to wait until Sunday, June 12th at 8pm to find out.

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