Tony, Tony, Tony

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Multiple People’s Choice Awards winner Neil Patrick Harris is hosting the 66th Annual Tony Awards this Sunday (airing live on CBS from 8:00 -11:00 p.m. EDT,)  If you caught last year’s Tony telecast you know that a.) NPH did a spectacular job and b.) the producers were wise to bring him back.  Neil will be joined by an all-star line-up of presenters that includes Jessica Chastain, Nick Jonas, James Marsden, Jim Parsons, Paul Rudd and Amanda Seyfried, along with Broadway legends like Angela Lansbury, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters and Christopher Plummer.

I am thrilled to report that I will be one of the lucky folks who’ll experience Broadway’s biggest night alongside all those bold-faced names at the Beacon Theatre in NYC.  I’ve had the privilege of attending the Tony Awards for the past 13 years and I’m just as excited for this year’s ceremony as I was my first time back in 1999.  Sure, I could regale you with tales of Tony Awards of yesteryear, like the audible gasps I heard in Radio City Music Hall when Avenue Q upset Wicked for Best Musical in 2004, or the time Rosie O’Donnell and Nathan Lane told a very funny joke in which Kevin Spacey was the punchline during a commercial break in 2000,   But why dwell on the past when we should be celebrating this year’s show?

So here are the nominees and my personal picks for who should win in six major categories.  I’m not predicting who I think will win, I’m highlighting who I want to win.  Sometimes these are one and the same.  Here’s hoping…

BEST PLAY:
Clybourne Park
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher  
Venus in Fur

Let the record show that I haven’t seen Clybourne Park yet (I’m going in two weeks), I saw Venus in Fur a couple of years ago at Classic Stage Company before it moved to Broadway, and the performance I saw of Other Desert Cities featured Stockard Channing’s understudy.  In light of (or in spite of?) these facts, I’m hoping for a victory for Peter and the Starcatcher.  This charming Peter Pan origin tale really caught me off guard with its terrific performances and delightful staging.  I’d love to see it take home the coveted Tony statue.

BEST MUSICAL:
Leap of Faith
Newsies  
Nice Work if You Can Get It
Once

Once.  Hands down.  No question.  See my blog post from April 20th if you need more proof.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY:
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist

Jones, Langella and Lithgow are American treasures, and Hoffman’s take on Willy Loman is spectacular, even if he is much too young to play the part.  But I’m going with James Corden for making me laugh out loud during his tour de force performance in One Man, Two Guvnors.  I normally despise farces that involve mistaken identities and lots of slamming doors, but this one charmed my socks off due to Corden’s mad physical comedy skills.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY:
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit

Nina Arianda gives one of those mind-blowing, “oh my gosh, this woman is going to be a star” performances in Venus in Fur.  As noted above, I saw her in the role off-Broadway with Wes Bentley (who was replaced by Hugh Dancy when it moved to the Great White Way) and I’m still blown away by the memory of her onstage.  If for some reason she doesn’t win this year, she’s certainly going to be no stranger to the awards podium in what’s sure to be a long and illustrious career.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL:
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines, Follies

Steve Kazee. Hands down.  No question.  See my blog post from April 20th if you need more proof.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL:
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti, Once
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work if You Can Get It
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde

This category is chock full o’ lovely ladies who light up the stage, but Audra McDonald should earn her fifth Tony Award for her take on the iconic Bess.  Her previous awards have all been for Featured Actress; it’s about time she got rewarded for being the leading lady she is.  We miss you, Naomi, on Private Practice, but we’re thrilled you’re back on the Broadway stage where you belong.

And there you have it, one man’s opinion.  Be sure to tune in to CBS on Sunday night to see who the Tony voters will actually bestow with their coveted trophies this year.

POLL

Which of these Tony-nominated musical revivals is your favorite?

Evita
Follies
Jesus Christ Superstar
Porgy and Bess

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