Obnoxiously loud people celebrate themselves: Tony predictions 2019
May 13, 2019
Ever wondered what the “T” in EGOT is? Look no further- the Tonys are on their way. Each year, the best and brightest of the Great White Way are celebrated in a televised bonanza that is at once far more entertaining than any other awards show, and just as boring as every other awards show. The only real winner is Neil Patrick Harris. And yet the Tonys are still a wonderful outlet for the theatre-going denizens of America, and they offer a glimpse of Broadway to people who might otherwise not have the chance to ever see a show. Many winners speak directly to the kids they know are watching, and almost every nominee has a story to tell about when they were watching the Tonys as children. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s sentimental. In other words, it’s theatre. And now, without further ado, here is This Is York’s predictions for the 2019 Tonys.
This season featured a diverse showing of new productions, ranging from the first two actually funny musical comedies since “The Book of Mormon”, to a sung-through retelling of Greek myths. This will be a two-show race, as “Hadestown” and “Tootsie” both have significant momentum headed into the Tonys. “Hadestown” is the aforementioned operetta which explores the myths of Hades and Persephone, and Orpheus and Eurydice. It is an epic tale that emotionally wrecks its audiences, and has been celebrated as a unique and original take on its source material, and saw four of its five lead cast members be nominated for individual awards. “Tootsie” is a comedic masterpiece that takes a scalpel to the movie it’s inspired by, craving away the antiquated material and leaving behind the core of hilarity. But despite “Tootsie”’s admirable work, Tony voters tend to reward original work, and that gives the edge to “Hadestown”. “Tootsie” is one of two new musicals based on a movie, and neither it nor “Beetlejuice” have a good chance of taking this award home. Ditto for the Temptations musical, which is a standout jukebox musical, but still a jukebox, and thus will most likely not be rewarded.
This Is York’s Prediction: “Hadestown”
Best Revival of a Musical
Only two musical revivals opened this season, but this won’t be a split race. “Kiss Me, Kate” would be a strong contender in any other season, but this year Daniel Fish’s revisionist take on “Oklahoma!” is sure to take the prize. Staged in the round, “Oklahoma!” is a unique staging that features new orchestrations, chili served at intermission, and a stripped-down emotional telling that is rarely seen in Golden Age musicals. Fish’s production has been garnering raves, and it’s easy to expect that the Tonys reward his show.
This Is York’s Prediction: “Oklahoma!”
Best Direction of a Musical
This award will be fought for by two directors, the visionaries who brought us the likely winners of the Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical. Rachel Chavkin’s staging is one of the most interesting aspects of “Hadestown”, and one has not truly lived until they’ve sat in the audience and had stage lights swing from the ceiling during “Hadestown”s powerful “Wait for Me”. She was also the leader of “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, another wildly original work that was almost shutout at the 2017 Tony Awards. Tony voters may want to give her a win for her second outing as a Broadway director in two years. Daniel Fish, however, may keep her from that goal. Fish is an eclectic director whose shows have amazed and confused for years. He is an unlikely choice to lead a Broadway show, simply because his tastes lean so far away from a commercial outlook, but his “Oklahoma!” is changing the way his work is viewed.
This Is York’s Prediction: Rachel Chavkin, “Hadestown”
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
A review published last year for the Chicago tryout of “Tootsie” claimed that the author had overheard a well-known Broadway producer declaring Santino Fontana the 2019 Best Actor after seeing the show. This race is looking to confirm that bold prediction. Fontana takes on the dual role of Michael, a failing actor, and Dorothy Michaels, the woman he dresses up as to get a fresh start. Fontana makes the most of it, strutting in heels, falling in love, and singing in a range generally reserved for a woman. His role has elements of previous Tony-winning performances, particularly Neil Patrick Harris’s turn as the title role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, in which he stepped into the fishnets and stilettos of German transgender rocker Hedwig Robinson. Fontana attempts a similar feat, and pulls it off in an admirable way, and will likely face no obstacles on his path to victory.
This Is York’s Prediction: Santino Fontana, “Tootsie”
Best Leading Actress in a Musical
This award will likely come down to how well written the roles are, not how well they are performed, simply because this category features so many talented actresses in underwritten parts. Eva Noblezada (“Hadestown”) is, at 23, one of the most talented singers living, but the role of Eurydice gives her no favors. It comes off as, while more interesting than Orpheus, a semi-bland persona that doesn’t reward her abilities. Caitlin Kinnunen (“The Prom”) suffers the same fate, despite the revolutionary nature of her part. She plays perhaps the first lesbian lead ever on Broadway, but is written primarily as an archetypal ingenue, which impacts her chances of receiving this award. Stephanie J. Block has done good work in “The Cher Show”, but the mess around her means that she will likely be leaving without a win. That leaves Beth Leavel (“The Prom”) and Kelli O’Hara “(Kiss Me, Kate”). The edge has to be given to O’Hara, who is celebrating her seventh (SEVENTH!!!) Tony nomination, and whose angelic vocals are the envy of everyone everywhere. It would also make sense that Tony voters would give “Kiss Me, Kate” this nod, as there is not a strong likelihood that the show comes out with any other awards besides Best Choreography.
This Is York’s Prediction: Kelli O’Hara, “Kiss Me, Kate”.
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Jeremy Pope (“Ain’t Too Proud”) has two nominations for two different performances this year, a feat which has only been accomplished five times prior. Despite this, he is competing in a crowded category that is replete with Broadway veterans, and it is likely that, should he win at all, it comes in the form of the Best Leading Actor in a Play award. The two more likely bets here are the castmates Andre De Shields and Patrick Page (“Hadestown”). Both deliver stunning performances in well-developed roles, with Page’s in particular providing an example of a voice type rarely seen on a Broadway stage. Yet Page can’t match the sheer star power of De Shields, who, in the first thirty seconds of the show, commands the audience so completely that he has this award on lock.
This Is York’s Prediction: Andre De Shields, “Hadestown”.
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
There are two sets of castmates nominated for this award, and only one actress going it alone. Yet that actress will probably walk away victorious. Amber Gray dazzles in a part that could have been relegated to the sidelines, but instead steals the show, as Persephone in “Hadestown”. Her talent and heart create an engrossing blend that makes the audience deeply sympathize with the Queen of the Underworld. While both actresses nominated for “Oklahoma!” have received similar raves, Gray is giving an assured, moving performance that will net her this award.
This Is York’s Prediction: Amber Gray, “Hadestown”
There are a number of beautiful scores gracing stages this season, but the one that has been most affected by its orchestrations is “Oklahoma!” Daniel Kluger rewrote the orchestrations for one of the most well-known shows in the American musical theatre pantheon, and did so in a way that brought something new and exciting to the material. While “Hadestown” features gorgeous music, it will most likely prevail in the Best Original Score category, and cede this win to “Oklahoma!”
This Is York’s Prediction: Daniel Kluger, “Oklahoma!”
Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Jez Butterworth’s play The Ferryman seems to be the frontrunner. The play, which is based around a true tragedy, follows the story of one of the bodies found of the Disappeared, 16 people who were murdered by the IRA in Ireland in 1972. Heidi Shrek’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” is also a strong contender, her self-written, acted, and directed show explaining exactly what the title says, along with many more truths about the document that lays at the foundation of American Democracy.
This Is York’s Prediction: “The Ferryman”
Best Revival of a Play
Although three of the nominees for Best Revival have already closed, buzz from their performances has withstood throughout the season. I predict that the race will be between “The Waverly Gallery” and” The Boys in the Band,” two dramatically different shows that both feature all star casts. “The Waverly Gallery” is centered around grandmother Gladys (played by legendary improv comedian Elaine May) and her family’s response to the deterioration of her mind, also featuring performances by Lucas Hedges and Michael Cera. “The Boys in the Band” holds a special appeal, with a Netflix movie featuring all of the Broadway revival cast officially set on the horizons. The play, which starred Matt Bomer (“White Collar”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), and Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”), is an ensemble show that centers around a group of gay men who gather for a friend’s birthday party. Drama ensues.
This Is York’s Prediction: “The Boys in the Band”
Best Direction of a Play
“The Ferryman” director Sam Mendes has already won an Olivier for the show’s West End run, and will likely earn a Tony as Well. Along with his work in the theater, he is more widely known for the two most recent Bond movies, “Skyfall” and “Spectre”.
This Is York’s Prediction: Sam Mendes, “The Ferryman”
Best Leading Actor in a Play
In an extremely stacked category, I’m voting with my heart for Adam Driver. Driver, who stars in the revival of Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This”, is explosive onstage, leading the production with strength, vulnerability, and an ability to draw a unique character out of classic material. Along with Driver are Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, and newcomer Jeremy Pope, who is double nominated at the ceremony for his two shows this season.
This Is York’s Prediction: Adam Driver, “Burn This”
Best Leading Actress in a Play
The Leading Actress Category is packed to the brim with esteemed actresses, such as legend Anette Bening and Laurie Metcalf, who took home a Tony in both 2017 and 2018 for her work in “A Doll’s House, Part 2″ and “Three Tall Women”, respectively. However, the race is looking to lean towards Elaine May, subject of “The Waverly Gallery”. I think it’s between her and Metcalf, who recently played Hillary Clinton in the topical play “Hillary and Clinton”.
This Is York’s Prediction: Elaine May, “The Waverly Gallery”
Best Featured Actor in a Play
Although this is another tough category, Brandon Uranowitz is pitch perfect in “Burn This”. In a four person cast, Uranowitz is a standout with both his commitment to the period, vulnerability, and genius sense of humor. I was practically folded over in my seat the entire performance.
This Is York’s Prediction: Brandon Uranowitz, “Burn This”
Best Featured Actress in a Play
Broadway darling Celia Keenan-Bolger is a talented, intelligent actress who already has three Tony nominations under her belt. Her work in the season’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” looks like it will make the fourth time the charm.
This Is York’s Prediction: Celia Keenan Bolger, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Best Scenic Design of a Play
In “Ink”, a play that travelled overseas this year after being nominated for a Olivier award in 2017, the scenic and lighting design take center stage, bringing audiences into the complicated world of The Sun. The stage features vintage filing cabinets and other office furniture piled into a looming stack of newspaper extravagance, the lighting highlighting the many faces and headlines of the media.
This Is York’s Prediction: Bunny Christie, “Ink”
Best Costume Design of a Play
Although many of the nominees in this category were given nods for their period costumes, Toni-Leslie James’ costumes for “Bernhardt/Hamlet” is a standout. The costumes help leading lady Sarah Bernhardt, played by Janet McTeer, embrace both masculinity and femininity in Theresa Rebeck’s show about gender, Shakespeare, and finding your voice in art.
This Is York’s Prediction: Toni-Leslie James, “Bernhardt/Hamlet”
Best Lighting Design of a Play
(See Scenic Design above)
This Is York’s Prediction: Neil Austin, “Ink”
Best Sound Design in a Play
As we move down the list, we move farther into “Categories Ellie Knows Nothing About,” and although I’ve sort of improvised so far, I honestly have no clue about Sound Design. Maybe “The Ferryman” because it looks like it is poised to sweep? Sure, why not?
This Is York’s Prediction: *emoji with the guy shrugging*