Sunday, June 8, 2014


Hey guys, guess what?! IT'S TONY TIME!!!!  And with this blog I get the opportunity to let out the first of my Tony excitement!  As I expect most of my readers know, I love Tony season, but as many of you may not know, one of my greatest joys is actually writing this blog.  Why?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  First of all I love being able to inform you.  I know that not everybody has time to do as much research as they'd like about Broadway shows, and sometimes it's hard to always have an opinion on every award of the Tony Awards.  If you find yourself at your Tony Awards party without knowing who to root for (what?  You're not planning on going to a Tony Awards party?  Well that's just silly.  You should come to mine!  Or even throw your own!), simply pull up this post on your iPhone and allow my opinions to become yours.  This way you get to be a Broadway genius, I get to practice mind control, it's a win-win!!  But, in addition to imposing my beliefs on my readers, I also love writing this blog because it gives me the excuse to do the research.  My life (like most people's these days) is super busy and, under normal circumstances, I would not be able to justify spending hours watching bootlegged youtube videos and reading review of shows that closed months ago.  However, knowing that my devoted reader is counting on me (assuming someone out there actually does read this) gives me just the excuse I need to shirk on my real-world responsibilities and engage in this fabulous theatrical fancy!  So, let us not dally a moment longer, ON TO THE NOMINATIONS!!!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Sarah Greene -- The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger -- The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo -- A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose -- A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham -- Casa Valentina

I'm not going to lie, while most of the performance categories this year have incredible nominees and it's hard to choose the winner because they all seem so incredible, I'm afraid I find it hard to predict a winner here because I just don't know much about them.  I have no doubt that each of these actresses were wonderful, but most of them were overshadowed by the leading cast members in their show (And, when those cast members include Denzel Washington, Zachary Quinto, and Daniel Radcliffe, then that's no surprise).  I would've loved to see Andrea Martin [Act One] nominated but I guess the Tony nominators didn't enjoy her performance as much as I did.  I give my pick to Celia partially because I just love her as an actress and I'm really ready for her to win something, but also because I think that she had perhaps the most transformative role out of all of these ladies.   Between the limp and the accent and the personality, her character was entirely different from the Celia that we all know and love, and I think that transformation is award deserving.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Reed Birney -- Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi -- Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry -- Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance -- Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith -- The Glass Menagerie

All of these guys, I heard gave really, REALLY fantastic performances.  And, oddly enough, the vast majority of these performances were all comedic.  With the exception of Brian J. Smith, all of these Broadway funny guys earned their nominations by drawing laughs out of their audiences 8 times a week.  While some might say that gives Brian the advantage, he is also comes from the show that closed first, so it's likely the Tony committee won't find his performance memorable enough.  The big story here is probably the three Twelfth Night guys all getting nominated.  I'm thrilled that they were because I heard that entire ensemble gave brilliant performances and I think these nominations prove that.  Of course, Twelfth Night has also closed, and I'm afraid that these fantastic performances will "split the vote" and that Reed Birney will most likely walk away with the win.  However, if I was deciding I'd give the statue to Mark Rylance because I heard that he was positively exquisite in this show and there's honestly a part of me that just wants to see him give a speech again.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein -- Cabaret
Nick Cordero -- Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry -- Violet
James Monroe Iglehart -- Aladdin
Jarrod Spector -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

There are lots of strong contenders for best performer by an actor in a featured role this year.  Some (like Dany Burstein) for their touching moments and others (like James Monroe Iglehart) for their more comedic turns, but each and every one deserving.  I'm not going to lie, I would've liked to see Bobby Steggert [Big Fish] or Anthony Rapp [If/Then] nominated, but aside from that I think that the Tony committee did a good job of recognizing the best supporting men of Broadway this year.  As for the winner, I give my vote to James Monroe Iglehart because he seems to carry the entirety of Aladdin on his shoulders, and Aladdin is not a small show.  To be perfectly honest, I think Nick Cordero is going to win because I have heard that all the critiques liked him (especially compared to the rest of the cast), but his performance didn't do much for me personally.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Linda Emond -- Cabaret
Lena Hall -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox -- After Midnight
Lauren Worsham -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

This is another category that I'm really not sure who I want to win.  The leading men/women really stole the show for most of this years nominees so all of these ladies had to try to break out of shadows as great as Alan Cumming, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jefferson Mays.  While I've heard great things about all of these ladies, I think Lena might be my favorite to win because, again, her role is the most transformative.  I mean, everybody who's in "Hedwig" has to be transformed at least somewhat, but Lena's character (from what I can tell) is incredibly opposite from who she really is and that earns her my respect, and my vote. 

Best Direction of a Play

Tim Carroll -- Twelfth Night
Micheal Grandage -- The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon -- A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany -- The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is, in my mind, the greatest revival of a play to come out in a long, LONG time.  And what makes a revival great? The director.  Sure a strong cast or improved script can help, but the mind that reads the original text, finds a new way to look at it, and communicates that vision to his cast is the mind that deserves most of the credit for that show's success.  Of course I'm a huge fan of John Tiffany's other work (notably, Once) and his production of The Glass Menagerie was seamless so I not only want him to win, I fully expect him to as well.  If anybody will be able to take the statue away from him it'll be Tim Caroll (because Twelfth Night was pretty brilliantly directed as well) but I'd say John still has the edge.

 Best Direction of a Musical

Warren Carlyle -- After Midnight
Michael Mayer -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman -- Violet
Darko Tresnjak -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

This was a tough one because all of these directors are deserving their nomination (and, personally, I thought the direction of Rocky was pretty good too, but I guess the competition was just too steep).  Warren Carlyle had the intensely tough job of putting together a show that doesn't really follow the standard template so he had to travel a less paved road.  However, the show (under the name "The Cotton Club") had already had several off Broadway runs, so there actually wasn't much he had to change for this show.  The other three directors had shows that followed more traditional paths, but still couldn't be more different.  One was incredibly big (A Gentleman's Guide...) one incredibly small (Violet) and the other incredibly...weird (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).  While all of them did a great job with their shows, I picked Leigh Silverman because her show required more intricacy and more detail. Plus, if I remember correctly, the smaller more intimate shows tend to win direction more often.  However, Darko Tresnjak hands down wins for coolest name.

Best Choreography

Warren Carlyle -- After Midnight
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine -- Rocky
Casey Nicholaw -- Aladdin
Susan Stroman -- Bullets Over Broadway

As much as I admire all of these nominees and their work, it has to go to After Midnight.  I mean, with no clunky plot to get in the way, this show was literally a concert/dance recital.  They strung one show stopping dance number after another and the result: A well earned tony award for dear Mr. Carlyle.

Best Orchestrations

Doug Besterman -- Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown -- The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

I'm not going to lie, as much as I don't like After Midnight, I can't figure out why it wasn't nominated for best orchestrations.  From what I heard the band was one of the most incredible parts of the show so I figured that was largely because of the orchestrations, but apparently not.  Of these nominees I could see any of them winning.  Mr. Besterman and Mr. Sidwell both had the difficult task of rearranging the orchestrations for some songs (or all of the songs in the case of Mr. Sidwell) that had already been written (I honestly don't know if that makes it harder or easier...but I thought it was probably important).  However, I'm giving my pick to Jason Robert Brown because he's the only guy who completely took over all of the music categories (music, lyrics, and orchestrations) and created what many critics believe to be the best soundtrack to hit Broadway in a while (I disagree somewhat, but that's largely because it's not my style of music/show).  So I think the Tony Committee will want to honor Jason in any way they can, and one way could be by giving him this award.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt -- Act One
Bob Crowley -- The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin -- Machinal
Christopher Oram -- The Cripple of Inishmaan

This particular category, in my opinion, is no contest.  For those of you who don't know, I had the incredible opportunity to travel up to New York a couple of months ago (I was going to blog about it, but I had to catch up on all of my school).  The entire trip was incredible and one of the highlights of my life, but of the trip, possibly the biggest highlight was going to see Act One performed at the Lincoln Center.  I won't go into too much detail, but just know that I loved everything about it and you'll probably see it winning my "pick" for almost everything.  Of course, out of all that it is nominated for, I think the award it deserves the most is Scenic Design.  The set for this show was an incredible multi-story, rotating set that gave an infectious energy and life to the play.  It was dynamic, interesting, detailed, and just super impressive.  So I'd say that Beowulf Boritt, in addition to having the second coolest name of the nominees, is my favorite to win best Scenic Design.  If anybody has a chance to compete with Beowulf, it's Ms. Devlin.  While I can find no pictures/videos of her set moving, I heard that it had a similar trick of revolving and showing the devolution of Helen's life.  While it was, reportedly, the most interesting point of the show, I still don't think it will be able to hold a candle to the Act One set.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Christopher Barreca -- Rocky
Julian Crouch -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto -- Bullets Over Broadway

 This is another category with a lot of strong competitors, all of which used some big, flashy sets to highlight the strengths of their big, flashy shows.  However, I picked Rocky out of the crowd because it's the only show that I feel like really uses the set to tell a story.  Whether it's a boxing ring that comes out into the audience, slabs of meat that race past rocky, or an "ice skating rink" that elevates to the top of the stage, the Rocky sets are intricate, mobile, and I felt like very engaging.  So, while any of these fellows could win for their sets, I think Mr. Barreca should.

Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood -- Act One
Michael Krass -- Machinal
Rita Ryack -- Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani -- Twelfth Night

Often times the costumes in a play aren't super impressive because most plays have fewer and less interesting costumes than their musical counterparts.  That is true of most of this years plays with two exceptions: Casa Valentina and Twelfth Night.  These shows break the mold by putting actors in costumes that they wouldn't normally be found in.  In Twelfth Night this means going back to  traditional Shakespearean Garb complete with corsets, ruffly collars and white faces.  These costumes not only must have been particularly difficult to perform in, but they also had a lot of detail and do look rather stunning.  Casa Valentina keeps the costumes relatively modern (it might've been set in the 50's?) however the show is entirely about men who cross dress.  This means that each of them men need both their "macho" clothes and their more "lovely" attire (this goes farther than dresses, it includes some fairly sophisticated wigs and makeup, much of which is applied on stage).  Both of these shows find a way to portray these unconventional characters perfectly and I could see either of them winning.  I give my edge to Casa Valentina because I think the costumes look a little better, but I'll concede that the Twelfth Night costumes are more complex/impressive, so I think it's likely that Jenny will go home with the Award, which I'm ok with.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long -- Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo -- After Midnight

Again, just about all of these nominees are super impressive (except for After Midnight, I didn't see what's so exciting about a bunch of white tuxedos and black dresses, which seems to be most of what the cast wears.  I would've rather seen Big Fish nominated for costumes).  "A Gentleman's Guide" definitely uses it's costumes as a story telling device (and I think Jefferson Mays' dresser should win an award).  Bullets Over Broadway also puts a LOT of costumes on a lot of people and does a good job of creating the world in which the show is set.  But I think it's no secret that none of the costumes can really compare to those of "Hedwig".  For those of you unfamiliar with "Hedwig", it's about a German man (named Hansel) who cross dresses and eventually undergoes a sex change operation to become a woman (named Hedwig).  In a story like this there are lots of cross dressing characters, grungy band performers, Vegas style costumes, and everything else on the spectrum.  When you include the amount of wigs and makeup plastered on all the cast, it seems pretty clear to me that Ms. Phillips has a lock on this Award.

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable -- The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox -- Machinal
Natasha Katz -- The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman -- Of Mice and Men

Everyone knows that it's hard to judge lighting, especially when all you get are a few montage videos and reviews who rarely mention it.  More often than not you just have think about what shows lend themselves to good lighting and look for a few magical moments in those pictures/videos.  That's what happened with The Glass Menagerie.  From the minute I heard about the show I thought that there was potential to do some really fun lighting things with glass and when I checked Youtube for some footage I found my suspicions confirmed.  Not only are there some beautifully lit images of Laura and her "Menagerie", but Ms. Katz also did some really interesting things with reflection off water and using light to show memories.    Ms. Katz is an accomplished veteran Broadway lighting designer (this is her 10th nomination) and I think she most certainly deserves to go home the winner for this one.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind -- Rocky
Howell Binkley -- After Midnight
Donald Holder -- The Bridges of Madison County

This is a slightly tougher category to judge because I legitimately feel like there is no runaway winner.  I think Mr. Holder's lighting design might when because I do remember some pretty beautifully lit moments in the montage video, but I also heard that they did some fun stuff with the Rocky lights, "Hedwig" is so strong in all the design categories (and a lot of times a single show tends to get a lot of those) and...well...I have no clue why After Midnight is nominated.  So, while I would be happy with (almost) any of the nominees winning, I'm putting my mostly blind faith in Donald Holder.

Best Sound Design of a Play

Alex Baranowski -- The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy -- Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
 Dan Moses Schreir -- Act One
Matt Tierney -- Machinal

Unlike in past years, I actually, kind of, almost have an opinion on this category.  Now, it should be noted that I really don't care about sound design at all and I maintain that it is the most useless category of the Tony Awards.  However, this year there was one play ("Lady Day") that was actually built around sound, so I get the feeling that Mr. Kennedy jumped at the opportunity screaming "I'll finally get to do something!!!"  He has my vote for a winner, and if he doesn't win....well, I'll be confused, but I won't lose any sleep over it.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Peter Hylenski -- After Midnight
Tim O'Heir -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter -- Les Miserables
Brian Ronan -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Again, I don't want you to think I care all that much, because I assure you I don't.  However, every review I read for After Midnight talked about how absolutely incredible the orchestra was.  Does an incredible orchestra fall under the responsibilities of a sound designer?  I have no clue.  But it's the only lead I've got so I'm running with it.

Best Book of a Musical

Chad Beguelin -- Aladdin
Douglas McGrath -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Woody Allen -- Bullets Over Broadway
Robert L. Freedman -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

While there are several good books this year, to me this race is easy.  Aladdin's central focus is appealing to the young kids by recreating movie magic and adding lots of big song/dance numbers.  "Beautiful" 's central focus is to showcase the music written by Carole King so as to provide the generation that grew up with her the chance to reminisce.  Bullets Over Broadway's central focus was to fit as many jokes and big flashy numbers in as possible.  And the central focus of "Gentleman's Guide" was to be funny and smart.  The lyrics, the dialogue, even the plot of this show is absolute comedy gold.  While it might not be the funniest show I've seen, it's definitely the funniest of the year and certainly the smartest (with the possible exception of If/Then, which strangely wasn't nominated).  So for me, the winner should be quite obvious: Mr. Robert Freedman.

Best Original Score Written for the Theater

Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Begeulin -- Aladdin
Jason Robert Brown -- The Bridges of Madison County
Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey -- If/Then

This is a tough one because a couple of these soundtracks have just recently been released and I haven't gotten around to listening to them all yet.  I know that theoretically, I feel like If/Then should win.  It's got one of the best song writing teams I ever heard of (Next to Normal's Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey) and a stellar cast singing their songs (including  Idina Menzel [Wicked, RENT, Disney's Frozen] , Anthony Rapp [RENT, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown], Jenn Colella [Chaplin, Urban Cowboy], LaChanze [The Color Purple, Once on this Island] and plenty of other talented cast members.  I've only just recently heard some of these songs, and, so far, it's my favorite original soundtrack this year.  However, I'm giving my edge to The Bridges of Madison County, because this entire season I keep hearing about it's incredible soundtrack.    I gave it a listen and it wasn't really my style of music (there are a lot of love songs and angsty solos), however, I agree that the songs are well written and there certainly are some memorable gems in the soundtrack.  What's more, I'm a HUGE fan of Jason Robert Brown [Songs for a New World, Parade, 13] and I'd be perfectly happy with him winning another Tony Award for himself.

Best Revival of a Play

The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night

There are plenty of good revivals this year and all are fairly different.  We have uproarious comedies (like Twelfth Night), dark comedies (The Cripple of Inishmaan), realistic dramas (A Raisin in the Sun) and more fanciful dramas (The Glass Menagerie).  This kind of diversity makes for a good Broadway season, but it makes for a tough choice when it comes to the Tony Awards.  Unfortunately, having not seen the shows myself, all I have to go by are the reviews I read and the few videos I've seen.  So, based on those limited veins of information I have to make an educated guess, and that educated guess points me towards The Glass Menagerie.  While I've never been a huge fan of the show in the past, I am a fan of the creative team (including Director John Tiffany and Lighting Designer Natash Katz) and the cast (Ceelia Keenan Bolger, Zachary Quinto, Cherry Jones, and Brian J. Smith) and I think they really did this show right.  I'm so sad that the show finally closed, but I believe that it was one of the best revivals of a play to hit Broadway in a LONG time.  In the same way that Pippin was the perfect revival last year because it stayed true to the original show while adding a whole new twist, The Glass Menagerie made Tennessee Williams proud with it's loyalty to the script, but used some great design choices that made it feel like a whole new show.  This is what a revival ought to be, and for that reason I hope The Glass Menagerie goes home with the prize.

Best Revival of a Musical

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Miserables

This is a really tough category.  Of course, the biggest question here is: "Why wasn't Cabaret nominated?"  There were four musical revivals to open this season, the committee had the option of nominating all four of them and flat out didn't.  While I agree that Cabaret shouldn't have won, it's a bit of a slap in the face to not even nominate it and I'm a bit surprised.  Now on to the actual nominees.  I'm going to start by saying I don't think Les Miserables is going to when.  While I love the show and think they did a good job with this new production, I don't really think it needed to be revived and I don't think it should win.  But the race between "Hedwig" and Violet is a really tough one.  They both are led by big stars who give amazing performances, they both took shows out of relative obscurity into the main stream, but aside from that they couldn't be more different.  While Violet is incredibly minimal with almost no set and very simple costumes/makeup, "Hedwig" goes the other direction and makes all of their sets/costumes/makeup larger than life!  So how do you compare these two? I don't know.  I would love to see both of them and see how they work as a whole but I hate that all I have to go on is small pieces.  However, I'm going to give my pick for Violet both because it's the show that I think I would enjoy seeing more (generally speaking I'm a fan of deep intimate pieces over lavish spectacles) and because I think it's the more detailed "artsy" show.  of course, I'd be fine with either of them winning and I'll be happy either way.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Samuel Barnett -- Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston -- All The Way
Chris O'Dowd -- Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance -- Richard III
Tony Shalhoub -- Act One

This is a category that I unfortunately don't have any super strong opinions on (to be honest, I would've liked to see Zachary Quinto replace one of these gents for his role in Glass Menagerie).  I'm a fan of all of these gentleman's performances, but I can't say that any of them are sure to win.  I was given the opportunity to see Tony Shalhoub live in Act One and it was quite literally the finest acting I've seen in the entirety of my life.  However, despite how incredible and amazing it was, I don't really see it as a "Tony Award winning role".  Of course, I would LOVE to be proven wrong there, but I feel like the Tony committee won't want to give the award to such a comedic role.  As for Chris O'Dowd, his nomination, to me, seems identical to that of Tom Sturridge [Orphans] last year.  The show was put on Broadway to showcase a big star (in this case, James Franco) but unfortunately nobody really liked the show.  However, the right hand man to the Hollywood star was given a rich "character" role that involved lots of physicalizations and commitment.  In both cases this character was nominated, but, in my opinion, in both cases it was never a real contender.  Bryan Cranston has a chance at winning, but I feel like his play was so much of a flop that he would've have had time to make enough of an impression on too many of the committee.  This leaves the Shakespeare boys.  Of the two of them, the one that I read pages and pages of raving reviews about was Mark Rylance, so I"m going to assume that he's the favorite to win.  If he does in fact win then I'll be thrilled because it means we get to see another one of his brilliant speeches, but if he doesn't, then that's ok too.  It's also worth noting that if Mark Rylance won both this award and Best Featured Actor in a Play (I don't think he will, simply because the committee won't want to give both awards to the same man) then he will be the first one ever.  And that would be quite an exciting thing to see!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Tyne Daly -- Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson -- A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones -- The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald -- Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Estelle Parsons -- The Velocity of Autumn

This race is a little closer and a little more tight.  I could honestly see any of these women wining, but I feel like it's mostly between Tyne Daly, Cherry Jones, and Audra McDonald.  In fact, at different times in these past couple of weeks, each of them have spent time as my "favorite" to win.  They each bring lots of different things to their roles and each gave impeccable performances that definitely deserved the nominations they received.  If I have to pick, I give my edge to Cherry Jones largely because, from what I heard, this role is almost impossible to "get right".  In fact, Ms. Jones didn't even want the role when it was offered to her because she didn't know anybody who could do it justice.  However, eventually, director John Tiffany convinced her to take the role and then, together, they built an incredible character that I literally believe that nobody else living today could've done as well.  And in my opinion, a performance like that is what the Tony Awards were made for!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
 Ramin Karimloo - Les Miserables
Andy Karl -- Rocky
Jefferson Mays -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham -- A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

This category is another super competitive and it's really next to impossible for me to pick a favorite.  It becomes even more impressive when you remember that stellar performances like Zachary Levi [First Date], Norbert Leo Butz [Big Fish] and Eric Anderson [Soul Doctor] were passed up.  I have been fans of all of these men for their past performances (with the exception of Jefferson Mays who I'm seeing for the first time) and they're all some of the most talented men to grace the theatrical stages.  While I believe Andy Karl gave a wonderful performance in Rocky and I'm thrilled he's nominated, I don't think he'll win.  Ramin also did a fantastic job and I'm a massive fan of his voice.  However, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, Jean Valjeans are a dime a dozen now days, and I don't see any one person giving a performance of it strong enough to win a Tony Award over some more original characters.  Bryce Pinkham might've had a shot, but it sounds like he was really overshadowed by his co-star Jefferson Mays.  Two nominees from the same show is actually a fairly common occurrence at tony awards (the recent ones being Andrew Ranelles & Josh Gad in Book of Mormon and Stark Sands & Billy Porter in Kinky Boots).  In some of these cases (such as Book of Mormon), the two gentlemen split the Tony vote and neither of them win, and in others (such as in Kinky Boots) the more memorable/colorful character rises above his "straight man" counterpart and nabs the award.  Personally, I believe that's what we're going to see here.  I think Jefferson Mays hysterical performance in "Gentleman's Guide" will be enough to earn him the award.  Of course, if anyone could bet Mr. Mays it will be Neil Patrick Harris.  Not only is he one of the most well-liked people in the theater community (or at least amongst my theatrical friends), he's insanely talented and has absolutely and completely hurled himself into this physically demanding role.  Everybody (myself included) is thrilled that he has come back to Broadway and I would not be surprised to see him walk away with the trophy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Mary Bridget Davies -- A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster -- Violet
 Idina Menzel -- If/Then
Jessie Mueller -- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O'Hara -- The Bridges of Madison County

This is probably the most talent filled category of the season.  The caliber of ladies nominated here is just insane!  It's also really interesting that there is literally no overlap between these shows and those that boasted best actor nominations.  This means that each one of these ladies carried their own show without the help of a Tony Award nominated leading man.  I give my edge to Sutton Foster not only because I am a HUGE fan of her past work, but also because I love how progressive this role is for her.  Ms. Foster is known for her flashier roles such as Millie Dilmount [Thoroughly Modern Millie], and Reno Sweeny [Anything Goes (2011 Revival)] so she took a big risk by settling into a quieter, meeker character in a smaller, more intimate show.  However, this risk payed off, as many critics have claimed this to be her best performance to date (which, by the way, makes it better than performances that won her Tony's in the past).  Close on the heels of Ms. Foster is Broadway favorite and recent Frozen star Idina Menzel.  Idina stunned New York playing roles as Iconic as Maureen [RENT] and Elphaba [Wicked] and is now finally returning to the stage in the new musical If/Then.  This is a deliciously complex show that hinges around an equally complex leading lady.  In the role of Elizabeth, Idina not only brings her legendary singing voice, but also more emotion, and inner turmoil than I've ever seen from her.  If it hadn't been for Sutton, I would've considered her a lock on best leading actress and, as it stands, I would be happy to see her win.  Jessie Mueler and Kelli  O'Hara also gave excellent performances that maybe could've won in a different year.  They both played strong women whose strong voices shone through their strong personalities.  Unfortunately, I don't think either of them are quite up to the competition they're up against.  This just leaves Mary Bridget Davies who, unfortunately, I know very little about.  Her show closed after only a few weeks and it's content (songs written/performed by Janice Joplin) didn't really appeal to me.  However, the fact that Ms. Davies was able to earn the show's sole nomination in just a few weeks of performing means that she gave a truly powerhouse performance.  While she may deserve a Tony Award (I legitimately don't know) I find it highly unlikely that she receives one this year.

Best Play

Act One
All The Way
Casa Valentina
Mothers and Sons
Outside Mullingar

The plays this year aren't quite as strong as some of the past years and don't really have a runaway winner.  Of course, while I'm admittedly biased, I absolutely love Act One and hope it'll win.  In my opinion it uses great actors and a great design scheme to tell a great story, but the best part about it is the way the story is told.  The pacing and rhythm of the show is simply beautiful and the end result is not a moment is dull.  However, I've read that Act One wasn't even expected to be nominated, so it sounds like most people don't think it'll win.  With that off the table, I think the award has to go to Casa Valentina.  This is a super interesting play written by Harvey Firestein about straight men who cross-dress.  Although the concept could be off-putting to some, it stars a brilliant ensemble of actors, and, from what I've seen, encourages a really good, interesting, fair discussion about gender roles, identity, and self-confidence.  Like Act One, Casa Valentina found a story that really needed to be told, and then found a fun and entertaining way to tell it, so I think it deserves to be awarded with a Tony.

Best Musical

After Midnight
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

I was very disappointed when these nominations came out.  For one thing, the Tony committee had the option of nominating up to five shows, so I was really surprised disappointed when I saw they only nominated four.  My despair grew when I realized that After Midnight was one of the nominees.  Not that it's a bad show, but it's a review, not a legit musical, and therefore I don't think it should be nominated.  If the nominators had decided to nominate five shows and not make After Midnight one of them, then two other fantastic shows of this season could've been nominated.  Not only does this mean that some of the favorite shows of the year (like Rocky, If/Then, or Bridges of Madison County) could've snagged a nomination, but it also means that shows that were already snubbed (like First Date and Big Fish) got further snubbed...which hurts.  Of course, I suppose the nominators don't matter too much, because regardless of who's nominated, I'm fairly confident that "A Gentleman's Guide" will win.  This is the one show that really has everything going for it.  A brilliant book, a sturdy score, some fantastic actors, great designs, and an all around genius idea.  With all the uncertainty this season, I feel quite confident that "A Gentleman's Guide" has this one in the bag.  Which I'm perfectly ok with.

Best Ensemble of a Musical

After Midnight
First Date

Keeping with last year's tradition, I've decided to give my own Tony Award for the musical cast that I think worked the best as the ensemble.  This goes to a cast that works together both as incredibly talented individuals, but also as a unit.  Whether you're putting on a huge production with a massive cast (like After Midnight) or a smaller, more intimate show with only a few cast members (like First Date) it's crucially important that they all work together well.  While all of these four casts were great, I feel like If/Then did the best job at creating distinct individual characters that were all well developed when they were in the spotlight and still felt like a community when they were all together in the background.

Best Ensemble of a Play

Twelfth Night
The Glass Menagerie
Casa Valentina
A Raisin in the Sun

I know that last year I only gave the ensemble award to the musicals, but this year there were so many fantastic plays with incredible casts who just fit together!  I had no choice but to expand the award to include plays as well.  All of these plays had STELLAR ensembles and, for a moment, I was leaning towards each of them.  However, I finally landed on The Glass Menagerie, because I feel like their ensemble dynamic was slightly more difficult, and perhaps more important than some of the other shows.  But, like many awards this year, each and every one of these nominees could walk away with the award (if an actual award existed) and I would be happy.


Act One:
Luke often said he loved the show and hoped it would win, but for most of it's nominations (except Scenic design) he didn't think it would.  5 Nominations.  1 Luke's Choice.

After Midnight:
Luke often spoke about his distaste for this show, and while he did often state that he thought it held undeserved nominations, he also acknowledged the strong points in the show and even argued that it should've been nominated for it's orchestrations and ensemble.  7 Nominations. 2 Luke's Choice.

Luke had several good things to say about Aladdin's James Monroe Iglehart.  He remained fairly silent about the rest of it's components, but had a fairly positive feeling about it as a whole.  5 Nominations.  1 Luke's Choice.

All The Way:
Luke said that star Bryan Cranston gave a good performance, but that he considered the show a major flop.  2 Nominations.0 Luke's Choice.

Beautiful -- The Carole King Musical:
Luke thought that Beautiful's Jessie Mueller gave an excellent performance "that maybe could've won in a different year" and noted that it's Orchestrations might have a chance at winning.  Aside from that he had little to say about the show.  7 Nominations. 0 Luke's Choice.

Bridges of Madison County:
While Luke admitted that this show "wasn't really his style," he recognized the strength of all of it's nominations and thought it had a good chance of winning most of them.  4 Nominations.  3 Luke's Choice.

Bullets Over Broadway:
While Luke complimented "Bullets" on it's costumes and choreography, the only category he thought it could win was for Nick Cordero's performance (which he said he hoped wouldn't win).  6 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

Luke was upset about the "slap in the face" Cabaret received by not receiving a nomination for best Revival of a Musical, but didn't think it deserved to win either of it's nominations.  2 Nominations. 0 Luke's Choice.

Casa Valentina:
Although he didn't think Casa Valentina would win either of it's performance categories, he praised it's strong ensemble and it's design.  He also praised the story itself, calling it a "story that needed to be told".  4 Nominations.  2 Luke's Choice.

The Cripple of Inishmaan:
Luke had very little to say about "Cripple" other than it was a dark comedy that vaguely intrigued him.  6 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder:
Luke had nothing but good things to say about this "show that really has everything going for it".  He especially praised it's book and leading actor Jefferson Mays.  10 Nominations.  3 Luke's Choice.

The Glass Menagerie:
Luke had wonderful things to say about The Glass Menagerie and called it " one of the best revivals of a play to hit Broadway in a LONG time."  7 Nominations. 5 Luke's Choice. (And one win in the "fake" category)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch:
Luke had good things to say about both the performers of "Hedwig" and it's designers.  All in all he was impressed by the show.  8 Nominations.  2 Luke's Choice.

If Then:
Despite the fact that Luke didn't predict If/Then would walk away with any Trophies on Tony Night, he did always say that it was a close second and/or that he wished it would win.  In fact ,he even gave it the award for the category he came up with.  2 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice (But one win in the "fake" category).

Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill:
Luke Praised Lady Day's Audra Mcdonald and said it had a good chance to win Sound Design of a Play.  2 Nominations.  1 Luke's Choice.

Les Miserables:
While Luke said he was a fan of the show, he referenced that Ramin Karimloo shouldn't win for his "dime a dozen" role and that he thought it shouldn't have been revived.  3 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

Luke referenced being impressed by Machinal's set, but didn't think it win any of it's nominations.  4 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

Mothers and Sons:
Luke praised the leading actress of Mothers and Sons, but had little else to say about it.  2 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

A Night With Janice Joplin:
Luke mentioned how the content of this show "doesn't appeal to" him, but did praise Mary Bridget Davies' "power house performance." 1 Nomination.  0 Luke's Choice.

Of Mice and Men:
Luke compared this show to last season's: Orphans and said that he didn't expect it to be taken seriously as a nominee in some categories.  2 Nominations.  0 Luke's Choice.

Outside Mullngar:
Luke had literally nothing to say about this show.  1 Nomination.  0 Luke's Choice.

A Raisin in the Sun:
Luke had little to say about this show, but did praise it's strong ensemble.  5 Nominations. 0 Luke's Choice.

Richard III:
In talking about Richard III's one nomination, Luke said that he read "pages upon pages of raving reviews" about it's leading actor.  1 Nomination. 1 Luke's Choice.

Luke mentioned that he appreciated all of the design elements of the show even if he didn't always think they would win.  He also said that he enjoyed Andy Karl's performance and thought it deserved a nomination for direction.  4 Nominations. 1 Luke's Choice.

Twelfth Night:
Luke had plenty of good things to say about Twelfth Night and it was in the top two of almost every category it was nominated for.  7 Nominations.  1 Luke's Choice.

The Velocity of Autumn:
While Luke didn't say anything about this show, he did appreciate the performance of it's leading lady and thought it deserved it's nomination.  1 Nomination.  0 Luke's Choice.

Luke thoroughly liked the idea of Violet and called it a "detailed artsy show."  He also praised leading actress Sutton Foster and director Leigh Silverman.  4 Nominations.  3 Luke's Choice.

Well, there you have it.  That's all the categories and my thoughts on all of them.  They may not have been as detailed/accurate this year as in some past years, but one thing that they do say: Broadway is a pretty magical place.  Any group of people who likes to put a transgendered German rock star, A straight cross-dresser, a magical genie, and a crippled Irishman on the same street has to be an exciting bunch!  And exciting is just what this year's Tony Awards are going to be!  I can't wait to see all the incredible performances and bite my nails with all of you waiting for my favorites to win.  With all the uncertainty one thing is sure, it's going to be one heck of a night!

So what do you think?  Did I make any wrong choices?  Should I have given some nominee more credit?  Less? Feel free to comment below with any questions/comments you might have.  I'm sorry this post was so late coming out, but hopefully you'll have time to read it before your Tony party.  One reasons I was so late coming out with this post, is I've been working on a video blog that was also discussion the Tony Nominations.  If you can't get enough of my theatrical ramblings or just want to see what I look like in person, then check out My Youtube Channel and watch me go.  And everybody should remember to watch the Tony Awards on June 8th at 8PM (EST) on CBS.  HAPPY TONY'S!