I would like to begin my highly influential tips for the winners of this season’s Tony Awards with heartfelt congratulations to Dolly Parton.
Dolly has been nominated for Best Score of a Musical for the music and lyrics of 9 to 5. She isn’t going to win. I just think Dolly’s amazing.
On a less happy note, it’s arguable that the members of the Tony Award nominating committee should resign en masse. By failing to hand even a single nomination to Ian Rickson’s raved-over production of The Seagull, starring the outstanding Kristin Scott Thomas, either the doddering Tony committee has a lamentably short memory or it doesn’t know diddly from Dolly.
Four of its five Best Actress nominees are from just two plays: Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, God of Carnage; Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart. The fifth is Jane Fonda as the valiant terminally ill heroine of 33 Variations.
No room, then, for The Seagull as Best Revival—and not for Ms. Thomas’ supreme Arkadina nor Carey Mulligan’s phenomenal performance as Nina for the Best Featured Actress category.
Twenty-five years ago in the West End, I first saw the amazing Natasha Richardson onstage: She was an ingenue then, playing the ingenue actress Nina to the Arkadina of her mother, Vanessa Redgrave. Her Nina was kissed by God and, for me, the performance has been the benchmark for the role ever since. It’s the highest compliment to say of Carey Mulligan that her blazing talent, her attack and dreaminess, reminded me of the 20-year-old Natasha Richardson.
Best Actress in a Play
Between Marcia Gay Harden and Janet McTeer-Up-the-Stage. Watch out for the heavily campaigning Jane Fonda.
Will win: Marcia Gay Harden
Best Featured Actress in a Play
Between the beloved first lady of Broadway, Angela Lansbury, for her dottily irresistible Madame Arcati in the mediocre revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, and the amazing Amanda Root for her hilariously exact portrait of British middle-class bossiness and bristling resentment in The Norman Conquests.
Will win: Angela Lansbury
Best Featured Actor in a Play
It’s a pity that, in another serious lapse by the nominating committee, John Goodman didn’t receive a nomination for the best work of his career as the sensational Pozzo in the revival of Waiting for Godot.
Will win: Roger Robinson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
If there were a best ensemble award—like the Olivier Awards have in London—the extraordinary all-British cast of The Norman Conquests would be duking it out with the extraordinary, starry all-American cast of God of Carnage. It would be a close and exciting call—and there would have been room for many other nominees in several categories.
Best Actor in a Play
A split vote between James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels of God of Carnage. I wouldn’t rule out Mr. Gandolfini, however. I wrote of Geoffrey Rush, nominated for Exit the King, that he’s giving one of the finest virtuoso performances I’ve ever seen—but Ionesco’s absurdist romp about mortality tends to put him in the rarefied high-culture category of “He’s wonderful—but What Does It All Mean?” Then again, the gifted Raúl Esparza of Speed-the-Plow could win, though he’s in danger of becoming the Susan Lucci of the Tonys.
Will win: Geoffrey Rush
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