TONY Nomination Predictions: Last Minute Thoughts on Broadway’s Big Awards by Kevin M. Thomas

Sahr Ngaujah in "Fela" - Best Actor in a Musical Nomination?

Sahr Ngaujah in "Fela" - Best Actor in a Musical Nomination?

The Tony nominations are just around the corner (May 4th). And, while I can’t predict them with accuracy like I do the Oscars, it certainly does seem like a good time to remember the great theatre we’ve had this passed season.

While I specialize in the musical and see few plays, the buzz surrounding possible nominees for Best Play include “Superior Donuts,”  “Next Fall,” “Red,” “A Behanding in Spokane” and “Race” as well as the star-studded “A Steady Rain” and “Time Stands Still.”

Kerry Washington and James Spader star in "Race" by David Mamet

Kerry Washington and James Spader star in "Race" by David Mamet

For Best Actor in a Play, there’s a lot of talk about Hollywood actors making their mark on the Broadway stage including Denzel Washington in “Fences,” Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in “A Steady Rain” and Jude Law in “Hamlet” vs. some top TV actors including Victor Garber in “Present Laughter,” Michael McKean in “Superior Dounts” and Tony Shaloub, Stanely Tucci or Anthony LaPaglia from “Lend Me a Tenor.” And let’s not forget Patrick Breen in “Next Fall,” Alfred Molina in “Red,”  Liev Schreiber “A View from the Bridge” and Christopher Walken “A Behanding in Spokane.”

Actresses that should get attention in a play include the luminous Laura Linney in “Time Stands Still,” Marin Mazzie in “Enron,”  Laura Benanti in “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” Viola Davis in “Fences,” Jan Maxwell in “The Royal Family,” Linda Lavin in “Collected Stories”  and Valerie Harper in the short-lived “Looped.” And it seems this year they don’t have an individual performance category so will Carrie Fisher be remembered for playing herself in a one woman show “Wishful Drinking?” She wasn’t acting, but it was memorable and fun.

Musicals this year, my area of expertise, were diverse, exciting and thrilling. Look for a lot of omissions from the Tony list – mainly as there is just too much to cram in each category. Not the case in every year.

Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones in "A Little Night Music"

Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones in "A Little Night Music"

The shows likely vying for Best Musical include “Memphis,” “American Idiot,” “Come Fly Away,” “Sondheim on Sondheim,” “The Addams Family,” “Fela!” and the dark horse candidate “Everyday Rapture,” which was released right under the wire to qualify.

Best Actor in a Musical could have Nathan Lane in “The Addams Family,”  either Douglas Hodge or Kelsey Grammer in “La Cage aux Folles,” Sahr Ngaujah in “Fela!” and hopefully Chad Kimball in “Memphis.”  Popular blogs also mention Sean Hayes in “Promises, Promises” although the show got mixed reviews and Cheyenne Jackson from “Finian’s Rainbow” which didn’t last very long.

Best Actress in a Musical will likely lead with Catherine Zeta-Jones in “A Little Night Music” who could easily see along side her Montego Glover in “Memphis,” Barbara Cook in “Sondheim on Sonheim,” Bebe Neuwirth in “The Addams Family.” The dark horse could be from the just-under-the-wire-late-released Sherie Rene Scott for “Everyday Rapture” or the popular Kristin Chenoweth from “Promises, Promises.”

James Monroe Iglehart in "Memphis"

James Monroe Iglehart in "Memphis"

The Featured Actor and Actress in both plays and musicals have an endless array of candidates – and many of them competiting from the same shows. David Alan Grier will battle out Richard Thomas  – both from “Race.” Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Hecht  both received good reviews in “A View from the Bridge”  so they might duke it out for a nomination. On the musical side, there are three really good featured actor performances in “Memphis,” but hopefully James Monroe Iglehart is remembered for his excellent work in the show.

And big names also have meaty, memorable roles in the featured categories. Both Angela Lansbury in “A Little Night Music” and Vanessa Williams in “Sondheim on Sondheim” saw both their names above the titles. But when it’s time for awards season, they are considered in the secondary categories.

“American Idiot” which isn’t your traditional Broadway musical may be a lot like “Rent” with a bunch of the unknown cast getting a nomination. But one thing is for sure, John Gallagher Jr., previously a winner for “Spring Awakening” won’t be a surprise nominee as he’s more a shoo-in.

Who will make the final cut, we’ll find out on May 4.