Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Ahh Tony time.  I'm so sorry I've waited this long to post my thoughts on the Tony nominations.  My life has been super busy over the past few months (of course, I carved out time to watch Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson live as they read out the Tony nominations) and it is just now slowing down.  Of course, I realize that the TONY's are coming soon, so I figured I better get this out significantly before then.  Like last year, I'll go through the nominations by category and by show explaining my top picks and why I do or don't like the nomination decisions.  For all of you who don't always keep up on the Broadway news who want to sound like they know what they're talking about at the TONY party they're going to (and if you're not going to a TONY party, throw one yourself!) then this will serve as a handy cheat-sheet to get you caught up.  Well, without further ado, let's begin :)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey -- The Heiress
Judith Light -- The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad -- The Trip to Bountiful

Unfortunately, the plays this year don't seem to be anywhere near as good as last years.  There are a few interesting ones out there, but on the whole, a lot of them just seem kind of drab.  What's more, Youtube has yielded less video footage than last year, so I can't even find any footage of several of these actors on the stage.  From what I can tell, Shalita Grant plays the comedic relief in a comedy, Judith Light is practically a lead and so her character is dynamic, Carrie Coon plays the comedic relief in a drama, and I just have no idea what Condola Rashad or Judith Ivey do!  I'm giving my pick to Carrie Coon because her character seems to be absolutely hysterical (even though I can't find a scene that features her on Youtube).  I don't think she'll win, because comedic actresses never win (I imagine Judith Light wins), but I think it'd be nice if the comedies won out.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein -- Golden Boy
Richard Kind -- The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub -- Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance -- Lucky Guy

There's a bit more meat in the featured actor category than featured actress.  I've at least gotten to see a little of each of these nominees in the videos around Youtube.  Personally, I really enjoyed all each of their performances.  However, with all of these wonderful nominees, I think I give my edge to Tony Shalhoub.  It might just be because I know the actor from his other work, but I'm always floored by his diversity, and this role is no different.  The role he plays in Golden Boy (Joe's father) is just so different from every other character I've ever seen him in and yet there is absolutely nothing about his performance reminiscent of a past performance.  His voice, his mannerisms, his very face is so unique to this character.  Of course, I do have to give props to the other nominees.  I didn't get to see much of Burstein in the videos for golden boy, but I've seen bits of him in other shows (such as Follies last year and Talley's Folly this year) and I'm sure he was equally great in this.  I'd like to see Richard Kind's performance because I know he played a rather serious villain in The Big Knife, but I'd only seen him in comedic roles, so in the footage I did see of him it was hard to take him seriously.  Although, the reviews I read said he did an excellent job, so I wouldn't be shocked if he won.  Billy Magnussen, was also a really fun one to watch.  His role was hilarious and SO high energy.  Unfortunately, I felt like the role was  really best as a gimmick.  The purpose of his character (in the scene's that I saw) was really to do/say something ridiculous so that David Hyde Pierce's character could make a sarcastic jab at him that will go completely over his head.  As for Courtney B. Vance, I liked his performance well enough, but I just don't get the appeal of Lucky Guy.  The character's they all play (New York reporters) are just too cliche, so it doesn't really demand my interest.  Long story short, Shalhoub is my favorite, with Magnussen as a fairly distant second and Kind right behind him.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown -- Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine -- Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase -- The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert -- Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann -- Pippin

THE MUSICALS!!!  Ok, the disappointment in the plays of this season is made up by the awesome musicals that descended upon us.  And, this year's seasons of musicals is practically devoid of dramatic shows.  Yes, don't expect a quiet Once or dark Next to Normal to be taking home awards this year.  Practically all of the shows this year have been full of camp, glitz, and glamour.  This is wonderfully presented in the nominees for Featured actor, every single one of which (with one possible exception) is undeniably comedic.  Unfortunately, I cannot find actual footage of most of these men, and for several of them the soundtrack has yet to be released.  So, I may be a bit biased towards Will Chase because the most information (both the videos and soundtrack) is available for him.  Of course, everything I've seen of him is truly wonderful!  His facial expressions are hysterical, his voice is superb, his mustache is excellent, and he plays a difficult (although incredibly amazing) character to perfection!  Of course, his competition has some juicy roles as well.  Keith Carradine, I've been told, is wonderfully funny in Hands on a Hardbody.  Since he's not one of the contestants (I think he plays the dealership owner), I haven't seen much of him in the highlight reels, but every review I've read of him says he just steals the show with his "one-liners".  And although I can't find much footage of Gabriel Ebert, I've been able to see some of the character (Mr. Wormwood) from the London cast.  That, compared to the montage footage I've seen and the interviews I've heard/read tell me that Gabriel is hilarious and definitely deserves his nomination.  The same goes with Terrence Mann, although I haven't been able to see much footage of him playing Charlemagne, I loved him in his previous roles (including The Beast [Beauty and the Beast], Javert [Les Miserables], and Chauvelin [The Scarlet Pimpernel]) and I completely see him as this role in Pippin.  As for Charl Brown....well I just don't like Motown.  To me (with one or two exceptions), there's no acting, it's just some Jukebox songs strung together.  So I hope Will Chase gets the award, but if anyone else, except Charl, gets it, then I'll be happy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Roll in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford -- Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Andrea Martin -- Pippin
Keala Settle -- Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren ward -- Matilda the Musical

Again, there are plenty of splendid nominees here.  I've seen Annaleigh Ashford (Margot [Legally Blonde], and singing an awesome version of "Freedom" by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk), and of course Andrea martin is well known for her stage roles (including Frau Blucher [Young Frankenstein] and Alice Miller [My Favorite Year]).  And both of them gave wonderful performances!  Annaleigh Ashford's role in Kinky Boots was really funny and her voice was perfect for it.  Unfortunately, she is out-shined by the stellar Andrea Martin.  I haven't been able to find a video of the new version of "No Time At All" (her big number) but almost every review I've read says it's by far the highlight of an already amazing show (they also reference this huge stunt in the song  that nobody seems to want to give spoilers to).  She's so funny, and has such a great voice, and honestly, with all the reviews I've read, I have trouble seeing her not winning. The other nominees I'd never even heard of before, so it was nice to learn some new names.  Victoria Clark's "Fairy Godmother" was alright I suppose, but her operatic voice combined with Rodger's & Hammerstein's score just didn't do much for me.  Lauren Ward's "Miss Honey" was fairly sweet, but she had the unfortunate role of singing most of my least favorite songs on the soundtrack, so I really haven't learned to appreciate her performance.  As for Keala Settle, apparently her song stole the show in Hands in a Hardbody which is impressive considering the cast assembled for that show.  She seems like a very talented lady who I think might have fared well in another season, but I just don't see her beating the distinguished Mrs. Martin.

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher -- Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe -- Lucky Guy

There isn't a clear winner here the way it was last year, but I think I'm going to give my vote to Bartlett Sher of Golden Boy.  The show requires and interesting dichotomy (between sports and art), and this seems to be represented really well on the stage.  Sher did a good job getting the boxing to look legitimate, and found a way to blend these two worlds really masterfully.  My second choice would probably be Pam MacKinnon because the videos I've seen show really great use of the single set stage, which I attribute largely to the director's blocking.

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis -- The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell -- Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus -- Pippin
Matthew Warchus -- Matilda The Musical

This category includes the four strongest shows of the year, so of course this will be a tight one.  They're all beautifully directed, but my edge goes to Diane Paulus because, like Golden Boy, Pippin had to find a way to blend two worlds (in this case, ancient England and modern circus) and this was done brilliantly.  Paulus knew exactly when to make  song larger than life and when to tone it down to something simple and chose the exact right stunts to put at the exact right scenes, and that's why I think she should win.  My second choice would probably be Matthew Warchus because I really like the exaggerated  almost comic-book like, way that his entire show was put together.

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler -- Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling -- Matilda The Musical
Jerry Mitchell -- Kinky Boots
Chet Walker -- Pippin

This was a bit of a tough one between Pippin and Bring It On.  I didn't want to give it to Kinky Boots because, although I enjoyed the choreography I saw, it wasn't anything we haven't seen on the stage before. As for Matilda, although the choreography was really unique and I see where they were going with it, it just looks really bad to me.  It's like 7-year-olds trying to do cool, combative, hip hop moves, then 30-year-olds trying to be 7-year-olds trying to do cool, combative, hip hop moves....which is an image I will never erase from my mind.  Now, I was going to choose Pippin until I realized that, unlike the Drama Desk Awards, Chet Walker is the only choreographer listed.  From what I've read/scene, Chet was only in charge of the "non-circus" choreography (and some of that he even stole exactly from Fosse's original choreography).  However, in Bring it On, not only was the cheer leading really impressive, but the regular choreography seemed to fit and was actually pretty cool.  So, while he's no Chris Gattelli (13, Newsies, Alter Boyz), Andy Blankenbuehler has a cooler last name, and gets my pick for this year.

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale -- Matilda The Musical
Stephen Oremus -- Kinky Boots
Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook -- Motown The Musical
Danny Troob -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

I really don't have strong feelings about this category either way.  I don't know that any of the orchestrations are particularly impressive simply because I don't know music well enough.  I'm giving it to Mr. Troob because he had to "re-orchestrate" something that already existed.  For this same reason I'm giving the Motown boys second place, because they had to take some classic, pre-written songs and make medleys and mash-ups, and transfer it to a full Broadway orchestra.  I honestly don't know if arranging pre-written music is harder or not, but I feel like it's more noticeable...so congrats to Danny, Ethan, and Bryan!

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty -- The Nance
Santo Loquasto -- The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell -- Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan -- Golden Boy

Set Design is a tough category to judge from only watching videos because what makes a set beautiful is the transitions.  Anybody can make a nice set, but one that can survive change is really important.  In the clips, I get to see a few of the sets, but never any of the transitions.  I chose Golden Boy because they had one or two effects I really liked with the boxing rings, and that's really all I can base my decision off of.  I won't be particularly excited or disappointed regardless of where this nomination lands, because I thought all of the sets were...average.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell -- Matilda The Musical
Anna Louizos -- The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask -- Pippin
David Rockwell -- Kinky Boots

Now, this category had a way more interesting line up!  All of these nominees actually have pretty cool sets.  "Drood" not only has set up a beautiful, regal theater in the lobby and such, but they've really created some nice pieces on the stage (my favorite is Neville and Helena's room).  Pippin also has a really cool functioning set (mostly for the circus folks to play with) but I'm just not sure which qualifies as sets and which as props.  Kinky Boots was also really nice.  It included a rather official looking factory floor (complete with working conveyor belt that drag-queens could dance on).  But hands down the victory has to go to Matilda! The scrabble tiles (for lack of a better term) alone make the stage epic, and then when you add the swings, and the desks, and the Trunchbull's office, and Matilda's room, you end up with this labyrinth of comic-book amazingness!  Out of all the creative awards this year, I feel most confident that Matilda will win best Scenic Design.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour -- Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth -- The Nance
Albert Wolsky -- The Heiress
Catherine Zuber -- Golden Boy

Again, I have no strong feelings about this one.  Personally I thought the costumes for The Heiress was (like most of it's other aspects) rather drab.  For Golden Boy, well I just feel like the costumes were really easy (put a couple of muscular sweaty guys in baggy shorts and everyone else in period clothes).  So that leaves us with The Nance and "Cyrano".  It's really tough between these two.  "Cyrano" has some really nice period clothes and did a really excellent job transporting us back to the days of yore.  However, I give my "edge" to The Nance because I feel like it had a harder job.  Because it's a show about vaudeville/burlesque, It had to give both "costumes" and "street clothes" to every character.  In the highlight reel alone I saw Nathan Lane in at least 8-10 costumes and I'm sure there were plenty more where that came from.  The costumes in The Nance had to capture both sides of Chauncey's life, and I think that important task was well accomplished by Ms. Roth.  So, while Ms. Gilmour gets an honorable mention, Ann Roth gets my vote for the win.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes -- Kinky Boots
Rob Howell -- Matilda The Musical
Dominique Lemieux -- Pippin
William Ivey Long -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Once again, each of these nominees are more exciting than the plays.  From the fashionable queens of Kinky Boots to the shocking amounts of plaid in Matilda to the circus leotards of Pippin to the regal elegance of Cinderella all of these shows have something special about them.  I thought long about each of these nominees and each and every one of them were my favorites at one point or another...but I finally landed on Cinderella.  Although I don't love all of Cinderella's costume choices (the Fairy Godmother is just WEIRD), they have beautiful ball gowns and some pretty stylish rags.  But what's coolest (as could be expected) is the speed at which one changes to the other.  The grandeur  the intricacy, and the flexibility of these costumes are what give it the inch above all the other nominees in my book.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer -- Lucky Guy
Donald Holder -- Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton -- The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weideman -- The Nance

It's kind of tough to make a decision in for this one, because it isn't the kind of thing I care very much about.  I can find no videos of the lighting used in The Testament of Mary, and the rest of the nominee's seemed to have only average lighting.  I guess I'll half-heartedly give it to The Nance because it did have some, at the very least different, lighting during some of the burlesque scenes, and because the technical awards seem to go in groups, and I think The Nance will win several other technical awards.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner -- Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner -- Pippin
Kenneth Posner -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone -- Matilda The Musical

Ok, first off, I want to mention my disappointment in the lack of Chaplin's nomination.  The videos I saw looked like they did some really cool things with the lights and I'm sorry they couldn't be recognized.  Secondly, we ought to give a HUGE shout out to Kenneth Posner!  Not only did he practically sweep the category, but these also take him to the 10 nomination mark (other nominated works include Wicked and Hairspray).  Unfortunately, although I now have a TON of respect for Mr. Posner, I have to give my pick to Hugh Vanstone's Matilda.  As I've said in the other technical awards, the Matilda creative team completely transforms the stage into this larger than life, "comic book-esc" wonderland and the lighting is an important part of that.  So, although I wish Kenneth all the best, I echo Jesse Tyler Ferguson in saying "Good luck Hugh!"

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada -- The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier -- The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg -- The Nance
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg -- Golden Boy

I can't imagine why, but for some reason, there aren't a lot of shows on Broadway who put a lot into advertising their sound design, and it's rare to find a review that highlights it.  I'm not sure a single video I could find even used a sound effect or anything else that the Sound Designer could be thanked for.  So, like last year, I'm just not going to vote for this because I have no idea.  I think it's possible The Trip to Bountiful will win because I heard in a single interview that there was some singing and some cool music in the show.  But then I suppose the same would be true of The Nance, and Golden Boy should at least have some violin music.  And I don't even know what Testament of Mary is doing up here....I'm so confused as to why this category even exists.

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm -- Pippin
Peter Hylenski -- Motown: The Musical
John Shivers -- Kinky Boots
Nevin Steinberg -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Again.  Who knows?  For musicals it's particularly hard because I have no clue what falls under "Best Score" and "Best Sound Design".  So I'm afraid that once again I can't really vote.  I'm honestly kind of upset that this is still a category, because there is a little voice in my head that screams "WHO CARE'S" every singly year...

Best Book of a Musical
Joseph Robinette -- A Christmas Story, The Musical
Harvey Fierstein -- Kinky Boots
Dennis Kelly -- Matilda The Musical
Douglas Carter Beane -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

As in previous years, this category is flooded with adaptations.  Perhaps it's because I'm a purest, but I really want to see more truly original musicals on Broadway (I mean, almost every play seems to be original!  Why can't the musicals be?).  So, since they're all adaptations, I have to judge them in their ability to keep the heart of the original story and yet still provide something new and fresh that transfers well to the stage.  I ended up giving it to Matilda because I feel like they took the freshest take of the take.  I haven't seen the original Kinky Boots movie, but I know that A Christmas Story and Cinderella both stayed very close to the screenplay and didn't really make something new as much.  Whereas Matilda took things in a completely different direction from anything I've seen before.  And it is for that originality that I name Dennis Kelly my pick for Best Book.

Best Original Score Written for the Theatre
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul -- A Christmas Story, The Musical
Trey Anastasio & Amanda Green -- Hands on a Hard Body
Cyndi Lauper -- Kinky Boots
Tim Minchin -- Matilda The Musical

Ok, so I'm afraid that there are really only two real contenders for this award.  Pretty much everybody knows that it will either go to Kinky Boots or Matilda. However, before I get to those I wanna talk about the other two nominees.  First off, I think it's SO cool that Pasek and Paul are nominated.  I've been a fan of theirs for years (they did EDGES, Dogfight, James and the Giant Peach, and plenty of awesome stand alone songs).  I was thrilled that they were finally getting a show on Broadway and I got REALLY excited when I heard that they were nominated.  As I said, I doubt they'll win, but it is just SO cool that they'll nominated.  I'm sure that this is just the beginning of several nominations and that they'll win one before long.  As for Hands on a Hardbody, I haven't been able to hear more than one or two songs (because they haven't released the full soundtrack yet) but what I have heard doesn't seem quite my style (a bit too country).  However, I think the cast they have singing it (including Hunter Foster [Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors 2003 Revival], Allison Case [Hair 2009 Revival,and several concerts), and James Armstrong Johnson [35MM New York Premiere, Catch Me If You Can (Ensemble)]) and they seemed to have a real good energy.  Although I'm sad that it likely won't win, I'm glad the show got at least this one major nomination.  Now, onto the two contenders.  Matilda and Kinky Boots has been going back and forth this entire awards season fighting against each other and this is no difference.  Although I genuinely like both soundtracks, my pick goes to Matilda because of I feel like the soundtrack as a whole is stronger.  Kinky Boots has a couple of really good songs, but Matilda makes every song stand out and every song is wonderful on it's own and in the context of the show.  For this reason, Matilda is my pick.

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
The Trip to Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

All of these are good nominees.  I am intrigued and excited by each and every one of them.  Some of them I understand better than others, but they all look like strong, well written stories, that are beautifully performed.  I give my pick to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf because I feel like it gave the best show for the least gimmicks.  It has no star power (unlike the other nominee's who boast names like Tony Shalhoub, Alec Baldwin, and Cuba Gooding Jr.), it had no flashy sets and no crazy stunts.  It had strong characters, smart dialogue, a good arc, and it seems to be plain entertaining.  Of course, all of the shows do look amazing (and I'd love to see each of them if I had the chance), but this is the one that I think is truly special.

Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

A few months ago, I was sure that I was going to give my pick to "Drood" and that there was nothing anybody could do about it.  That show had a STELLAR cast, brilliant writing, a wonderful creative team, and I think bringing it back to New York is one of the best decisions made on Broadway in a long, LONG time!  I love this show particularly, but I especially love the fact that it's back!  I think it's a brilliant show and the world really needed to be reminded of it, and this production definitely did the show justice!  In addition I didn't think it had much competition.  I've never really liked Annie and I feel like the new production was just entirely unnecessary.  The audience knew every single thing that would ever happen because it is too well known, and they didn't add anything substantial to the show.  I feel similarly about Cinderella.  Although I actually am glad that it came to Broadway, it follows the original Cinderella story line too closely so the audience can't expect anything they haven't already seen before.  That's why I thought "Drood" was a lock for the win.  However, the only thing that I like better than a revival that comes at the perfect time, is a revival that takes a show in a completely different direction...and it works.  That's exactly what Pippin did.  They took a show that I always liked (even if I never got a lot of it) and they found a way to make it new, and fresh, and...well...better.  I can honestly say I love every single thing about this new production!  I love the circus elements, I love the new cast (especially the new Pippin), the new arrangements of the music, every single thing they changed they were right to to change.  I don't know if everyone will feel the same as I do, but I just feel like this is the perfect example of keeping true to the original show while making it entirely your own and unique.  On the other hand, while I absolutely ADORE "Drood", it is close to a carbon copy of the original production.  So, while I hate that they have to go against each other, I have to give my pick to Pippin.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks -- Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane -- The Nance
Tracy Letts -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge -- Orphans

This was another REALLY hard decision.  You can tell the strength of these performances when you realize that people like Jim Harvey [Harvey], Norbert Leo Butz [Dead Accounts], Patrick Page [Cyrano De Bergerac], Al Pacino [Glen Gary Ross], Paul Rudd [Grace], Alan Cumming [Macbeth], and several other hugely talented actors weren't even nominated for their performances.  I strongly considered each and every one of these nominees and I truly have no idea who's going to win.  Tom Sturridge, completely throws himself into his character and, although I wish I could see his character in some of his more dramatic scenes, his comedic timing is sublime and he really acts with his whole body.  David Hyde Pierce (who I've loved for some time) also gives a stellar comedic performance and finds a way to say every single line in a way that is natural, poignant, and at the same time hilarious!  He is truly one of the greatest masters of dry comedy I've ever seen.  And, although I'm not always a fan of Hollywood talent invading Broadway stages, Tom Hanks does a truly excellent job in Lucky Guy at being passionate and yet real and grounded.  He has an ease about him in this role that's really nice to see.  But to me the competition really comes down to Tracy Letts and Nathan Lane.  Both of these wonderfully talented actors give great performances that are alternatively hilarious and powerful.  Letts with his dry wit masking his inner darkness, and Lane with his campy charm covering his inner vulnerability, both of these characters are truly layered and detailed.  In the end, I ended up choosing Nathan Lane because I feel like he had to show the bigger range in his role.  Mr. Letts had to stay the same, grumpy, cunning man throughout his three hour show, but Mr. Lane has to jump from over the top to subtle in the blink of an eye.  His whole role is based on the two sides of him, which means he practically plays two characters, while keeping them in one body, and that is what I call a TONY award winning performance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf -- The Other Place
Amy Morton -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor -- Ann
Cicely Tyson -- The Trip To Bountiful

Another tough one.  Each of these women gave truly excellent performances.  I think all were rightly nominated (although, I'm a bit surprised Sigourney Weaver wasn't nominated).  I could definitely see any of these talented woman winning, but I think I will give my choice to Holland Taylor.  Although every single one of these performances were excellent, Ms. Taylor found a way to not only give a stellar performance, but also to do a remarkable impersonation.  I feel like more than the rest of the nominees, Ms. Taylor really delved into the character and learned every nuance  and every gimmick there is to know.  There aren't many people who can write and star in a one woman biographical show.  And I think when one does it, and nails it, she should be awarded.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel -- Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Rob McClure -- Chaplin
Billy Porter -- Kinky Boots
Stark Sands -- Kinky Boots

This decision actually wasn't a hard one.  As much as I love the performances of all the nominees (and I genuinely do), Rob McClure's Chaplin is one of the most magical performances I've ever got to see (even through a computer screen).  The intense transformation he goes through is just stunning and, since I've seen every behind the scene's interview I can find, I know that he poured so much time and energy into the role and I know that he'll be remembered for it forever.  I just hope that that memory includes a Tony Award.  I kind of think he won't win (I think Billy Porter has the best chance), but I would LOVE to be wrong about that!  Rob McClure's performance was breathtaking and it deserves to be awarded!!!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block -- The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello -- Scandalous
Valisia LeKae -- Motown The Musical
Patina Miller -- Pippin
Laura Osnes -- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

This is a fairly tough decision because I love almost all of these actresses both for the roles their nominated for and for roles past.  However, despite my love for each of them, I decided to give this Award to Laura Osnes because she seemed to have all the pieces.  She had the stage presence, the innocence, the acting skills, the killer singing voice, and the onstage chemistry with her leading man.  All of these pieces come together to create a truly beautiful performance that she can certainly be proud of.  Of course, I'd be happy if just about any of these nominees win (not Valisia LeKae...I just didn't like hers), but I do have a slight leaning towards Cinderella herself.

Best Play
The Assembled Parties
Lucky Guy
The Testament of Mary
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Unfortunately, none of these plays completely jumped out at me and screamed "Winner".  In fact, there were some that I was very surprised to see!  I'm pretty shocked that The Testament of Mary was nominated, I didn't think it was very good at all.  I also didn't really like Lucky Guy very much, but I do admit that it has it's strong qualities, so I see why the nomination came.  It was a tough choice between the last two, and, to be honest, I think The Assembled Parties is going to win.  But I gave my vote to "Vanya" because I think it was more original and more entertaining.  The Assembled Parties pretty much just borrows cliches from other shows such as Clybourne Park and The Royal Family to make it's plot line work.  Of course, those are all winning cliche's, so I think it's possible that the show will win, but it just seemed kind of disingenuous to me.  "Vanya" on the other hand seemed to me to be very unique, and very well thought through.  The characters are detailed, the relationships intricate, the premise believable, all in all it is just a solid piece of theater and I hope it wins.

Best Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Matilda The Musical

This line up surprised a lot of people.  Of course, everybody knew that Kinky Boots and Matilda would be nominated (and I'd be pretty shocked if one of the other two won), but I don't know if anyone could've predicted Bring it On or A Christmas Story.  Especially with strong shows such as Chaplin, and Hands on a Hardbody, as possibilities, a lot of people were surprised to see a "seasonal show" and a a show based on a movie that's...let's just say that doesn't hold a lot of respect with the movie going elite.  I think both of these shows have their writing team to thank for their nominations.  They both took movies that just about everyone knew and completely revamped them into something different, and something special, and something that will stick with people.  Although I don't think either of them were knockouts, they each had some catchy songs and some beautiful moments, and they should be very proud of themselves.  Now, as for the other two shows, I give my pick to Matilda.  I have a suspicion that Kinky Boots will actually win, but I just love the innovation and creativity that went into Matilda and I would love for it to be recognized for that.

Best Ensemble in a Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
Hands on a Hardbody
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Ok, so this isn't a real category...but it should be!  A strong ensemble is so important to a show's success and there has to be a way to award an ensemble that can really take the audience on a ride.  I chose these for nominees myself based on what I've seen of each show.  Not only does these casts have great individual members making up their ensemble, but the chemistry and "sync" of the ensemble really stands out and caries the show.  I gave the award to Hands on a Hardbody because I feel like they exemplify exactly what a strong ensemble is.  The show reminds me of Titanic in the way that there really isn't such thing as a leading actor or actress.  Everyone in the show is a supporting actor and they all really work hard to support each other.  It's this team work and feeding off each other that make the show fun to watch and that's exactly why I'm awarding them with the first ever "Best Ensemble in a Musical" award.

Luke's Recap

Although Luke didn't love the show, he was impressed with the the actress, Ms. Holland Taylor. 1 Nomination. 1 "Luke's Choice.

Luke thought that the revival of Annie was unnecessary and didn't surprise the audience enough.  "1 Nomination".  0 "Luke's Choice."

The Assembled Parties:
Luke found the show to be rather cliche and didn't care much for it.  He thinks it will likely win 2 of it's three nominations, but doesn't want it to win any.  3 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

The Big Knife:
Luke didn't have strong feelings either way about this show.  He said he would've liked to see more footage of the show, but what he saw didn't particularly impress him.  1 Nomination.  0 "Luke's Choice."

Bring it On:
Luke thought the show wasn't a serious competitor for best musical but thought the choreography "seemed to fit and was actually pretty cool."  He was also impressed by the ensemble.  2 Nominations. 1 "Luke's Choice."

Luke was a big fan of this show (more than the critics it seems) and thought that it deserved more nominations that it received.  He did adamantly proclaim his hopes that Chaplin would win it's one nomination, but that he finds that sadly unlikely.  1 Nomination.  1 "Luke's Choice."

A Christmas Story, The Musical:
Although Luke had plenty of nice things to say about A Christmas Story, he didn't think it quite had the muscle to beat power house shows like Matilda.  He is proud of the creative team, and hopes that they produce many other nominated shows, but doesn't think they'll be able to win any this year.  3 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

Cyrano De Bergerac:
Luke enjoyed the show, and was impressed by many of it's facets, but not enough to win it any of his picks.  1 Nomination.  2 "Luke's Choice" (but was runner up once).

Golden Boy:
Luke really enjoyed this show.  He felt that the creative team took some good risks and that the show was a strong contender in almost all of it's nominated categories.  8 Nominations.  3 "Luke's Choice."

Hands on a Hardbody:
Luke was a fan of the show and was disappointed it wasn't nominated for more awards.  Of course, he didn't feel like the show could stack up against shows such as Matilda and Kinky Boots in several categories, but he did single it out as having the best ensemble on Broadway.  3 Nominations (and one fake one).  0 "Luke's Choice" (But it one the fake category).

The Heiress:
Luke was quite disappointed in this show and honestly sad that it even got nominated. 2 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

Kinky Boots:
Luke didn't like Kinky Boots quite as much as the nominators seemed to.  Her certainly did like the show and mentioned several instances when he thought it would win in actuality and when he called it a "close second", but somehow shows like Pippin and Matilda always seemed to break ahead of it.  13 Nominations.  0 "Luke's Choice" (but runner up 3 times).

Lucky Guy:
Luke really didn't care much for this show.  He thought the cast gave strong performances, but the rest of the show kind of bored him.  6 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

Matilda The Musical:
Luke really liked Matilda!  He was a great fan of the London production and, although he had trouble finding much about the Broadway cast (which is possibly why he didn't choose any of them), he really enjoyed the music and book, and loved the "comic book" like theme that the creative team took.  12 Nominations. 5 "Luke's Choice."

Motown The Musical:
Luke didn't care much for Motown.  He found the show choppy and with no real plot.  He made a point to single out the nominated actors as ones he didn't particularly like and the only nice thing he really had to say about the show was regarding it's orchestrations.  4 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice" (but it was runner up once).

The Mystery of Edwin Drood:
Luke was a huge fan of this show and it almost won several awards.  He was impressed by the cast, creative team, and the material itself and called the decision to bring it back to Broadway "one of the best decisions made on Broadway in a long, LONG time!"  5 Nominations (and one fake one).  1 "Luke's Choice" (although it was runner up 3 times).

The Nance:
Luke really loved everything about The Nance.   He adored Nathan Lane's performance, and he appreciated several of the creative teams decisions on the piece.  5 Nominations. 3 "Luke's Choice."

Although Luke enjoyed what he could see of Orphans and was thoroughly intrigued by the premise, it's nominations landed in two of the most competitive play categories, so it couldn't beat shows like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Nance.  2 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

The Other Place:
Although this show was not nominated for much, Luke enjoyed what he saw of it.  He enjoyed all the performances and the chemistry that the leads had.  Unfortunately it wasn't nominated for much, and will likely win even less.  1 Nomination.  0 "Luke's Choice."

Luke was pretty ecstatic about the Pippin revival and had almost nothing bad to say about it!  He thought that they were right to make the changes from the original production that they did and he called it "the perfect example of keeping true to the original show while making it entirely your own and unique."  10 Nominations (and one fake one).  3 "Luke's Choice."

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella:
While Luke thought that Cinderella maybe was to familiar to be a good revival, he did mention how glad he was it was on Broadway and applauded it's costume designer and leading lady. 9 Nominations. 3 "Luke's Choice."

Although Luke is a fan of Carolee Carmello (the leading actress and only nominee from the show), Scandalous just didn't much for him, or the box office apparently.  1 Nomination. 0 "Luke's Choice."

The Testament of Mary:
Like Lysistrata Jones last year, Luke just really doesn't like the over all concept of this show and that makes it hard to like it's pieces.  When one adds on that they've posted practically no reviews or videos that have to do with it's nominated categories, is it any wonder that Luke didn't choose to show it any love? 3 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

The Trip to Bountiful
Unfortunately, there are literally no videos of this performance so it was difficult for Luke to have a strong opinion one way or another.  He thinks it will likely win Sound Design and leading Actress, but he did not give them his "picks." 4 Nominations. 0 "Luke's Choice."

Vanya an Sonia and Masha and Spike:
Luke applauds "Vanya" for efficiently nabbing a nomination in all four acting categories and solutes this truly talented cast!  Every single cast member of this charming show seems to very thorough and detailed and he would love to see this show (preferably with this cast) someday.  6 Nominations. 1 "Luke's Choice" (but it was runner up once).

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?:
This is one classic that Luke now really wants to see.  He was fascinated by the strong performances, the intricate characters, the strong script, and even the direction of the show.  He thinks it was definitely one of this years powerhouse plays.  5 Nominations.  2 "Luke's Choice" (but it was runner up twice).

By all accounts this is going to be a great TONY Awards!  There are some wonderful nominees and I think we can expect some splendid performances, exciting speeches, and Neil Patrick Harris being amazing!  One thing that I think will differentiate this year's Awards from those of the past are that I think the awards will be very spread out this year.  I really don't see a single show running away with more than 5-6 awards.  Whatever the breakout, I can't wait for the TONY's!

So do you think I was unfair to one of the nominees?  Which awards did I "get wrong"?  Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.  And be sure to check the poll in the top left corner and tell me what TONY performance you're most excited to see!  Thanks for reading!

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