Ms. Lansbury is playing a former doubles tennis champion, if you please, in what is intended to be a touching, light comedy in partnership with Marian Seldes. Ms. Redgrave is battling alone onstage with questions of life and death (not to mention Ms. Didion’s first play). No matter what she does, the beautiful Ms. Redgrave can do no wrong in my corner. Seeing her act is how I imagine it must have been to witness Dusa onstage. She gets my vote.
On the other hand, the beloved 81-year-old Ms. Lansbury has returned to Broadway in Deuce for the first time in almost 25 years—and she’s won a Tony the previous four times she’s been nominated, for Mame, Dear World, Gypsy and Sweeney Todd. All musicals, true. But possibly a sign.
Spring Awakening will take home the Tony for best musical or my name is Trudy Kockenlocker. Grey Gardens is popular, but I’m looking to Tony voters to embrace the thrillingly new and young on Broadway and vote en masse for Spring Awakening. My vote also goes to its innovatory director, Michael Mayer, over Michael Greif of Grey Gardens. The retro Cowardesque score of Grey Gardens’ first problematic act is its weakness. The Tony for best original score surely goes to Spring Awakening’s remarkable Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater.
However, the award for best book will go to playwright Doug Wright for Grey Gardens—if only for his memorably sardonic line, “It’s very difficult to bring up a girl 56 years of age.”
Christine Ebersole was the clear favorite for best actress in a musical for her supreme performance in Grey Gardens—until four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald gave us the best reason to see Roundabout’s revival of hokey old, nearly forgotten 110 in the Shade. If you can believe the glamorous Ms. McDonald in the role of plain spinster Lizzie, you’ll believe anything. She enchants us in song. But remember that Ms. Ebersole plays two roles—her patrician Edith Bouvier Beale in Act I, and her unforgettably nutty, middle-aged Little Edie in Act II. She accounts for the risky show’s memorable success, and she should get the Tony.
Her stage partner, Mary Louise Wilson, is the perfect embodiment of Little Edie’s smothering, bedridden mad mother in Act II. Sentiment would like me to say that Charlotte d’Amboise’s moment has come for her Cassie in the revival of A Chorus Line. But Ms. Wilson will win the Tony for best featured actress in a musical.
Audience favorite David Hyde Pierce is charmingly appealing as the detective in the somewhat laborious musical Curtains; Michael Cerveris’ portrait of Kurt Weill in LoveMusik is widely admired; and Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening is smashing. But Raul Esparza’s stirring performance as the eternal bachelor Bobby among the ladies who lunch in Stephen Sondheim’s Company is my tip to win the Tony for best actor in a musical.
Best musical revival? I fear the Tony voters will buy into director John Doyle’s production of Company and its gimmicks borrowed from his previous staging of Sweeney Todd, in which everyone onstage plays a musical instrument, badly. The 110 in the Shade production is small and provincial, in spite of Ms. McDonald’s star power; The Apple Tree was threadbare and foolish, in spite of Kristin Chenoweth’s cutesy star power. For me, Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line will always remain a source of wonder, and my Tony vote goes to the current, loving revival.
No surprises for best play revival: R.C. Sherriff’s 1929 Journey’s End—which failed to find an audience and closes, with high irony, the day of the Tony Awards—will win the Tony.
Quickly! (as I run out of space). Best featured actor in a musical? Dunno! Either John Cullum for his understanding old dad of 110 in the Shade or David Pittu for his smelly Brecht of LoveMuzik.
Each five of the nominees for best featured actress in a play appeared in a show that has now closed. It will therefore be Jennifer Ehle, for her multiple roles in The Coast of Utopia, who wins.
Best choreographer? They might throw a bone to Jerry Mitchell for Legally Blonde: The Musical, but more likely to Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear for Mary Poppins.
Finally, the really big one! So prestigious is the Tony for special theatrical event of the year that we have only two nominations. It’s an even bet between Kiki and Herb: Alive on Broadway (though even their biggest fans would amend that to “Half Alive”), and Jay Johnson: The Two and Only. Mr. Johnson is a true master of ventriloquism—an art form that was thought to be confined nowadays to cruise ships. Kiki and Herb aren’t, of course, ventriloquists. They are camp. They will win.