BroadwayGirlNYC: My Tony Nom Reactions Pt. 2

BroadwayGirlNYC: My Tony Nom Reactions Pt. 2

The Tony Awards are now less than a month away, and I've really been enjoying revisiting memories, cast albums, and even shows themselves since the nominations were announced! A few days ago I posted my thoughts on the Best Score, Book, Musicals and Plays. Today, here are my feelings in the acting categories.

As before, 1) there are some shows I haven't seen yet, and 2) these thoughts do not necessarily reflect my "should win" or "will win" predictions -- those come later!

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

I can only imagine the honor and simultaneous frustration an actor must feel when nominated for any award against Tom Hanks. Seems like he's won just about every accolade for acting that exists -- except of course the Tony, since Lucky Guy Marks his Broadway debut. Does that make him a shoe-in? I guess we'll see. I haven't yet seen the play, so unfortunately I can't give my take on his performance. I do know that the three I've seen -- Nathan Lane, Tracy Letts and David Hyde Pierce -- are all very strong. I was particularly taken with Nathan Lane in The Nance, because while he definitely brought that ever-present Nathan-Lane-iness we've seen before, there was a sadness and multidimensionality that made me feel like I understood the clown for the first time. I also die for David Hyde Pierce; no one delivers a dry line like he does -- and should he take home the statue it will be well deserved. And Tracy Letts is a powerhouse, now as always.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Ari Graynor, Ari Graynor, Ari Graynor. It makes me hot with frustration to think how robbed she was! The breakout star of The Performers, she had Tony nomination written all over her from the first scene she played. The show closed just one day before she would have become eligible. I hope she's cast in another show soon where she can exhibit her talent for much, much longer. As for the actual nominees, this is a very strong category. When I saw The Other Place, I thought Laurie Metcalf was a shoo-in. Then just this past week I was blown away by Cicely Tyson's performance. And (though I haven't seen Ann yet) I hear that Holland Taylor is beyond words. Kristine Nielsen and Amy Morton are nothing to sneeze at. Great category, anyone could take it. Cicely will be top-of-mind over Laurie, so if I had to predict, I'd say Cicely takes it.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Billy Porter. I die for him in every show he does. I might as well not even take my seat when Billy Porter takes the stage, because I want to jump to my feet after every number. So my bias is clear; that said, I think Bertie Carvel probably comes in as the favorite; he did win the Olivier, after all, and he OWNS that role like no one else could! Re: Kinky Boots, I think it's always a factor when multiple nominations in any category come from the same show -- the "split vote" can affect results. I am glad to see that Rob McClure got recognized; he sure did turn into that little tramp in Chaplin, and since it closed so long ago, his performance could have gone unremembered. And Santino Fontana is darling in Cinderella. All this said, f you ask me, it's a two horse race between Billy Porter and Bertie Carvel.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

As with Rob McClure in Chaplin, I'm delighted that Carolee Carmello received a nomination for Scandalous. The show may have closed unceremoniously after a lukewarm run, but there is no arguing that Carolee blew the roof off the Neil Simon Theatre. I'd never seen her perform before and I think I had my mouth hanging open for the entire show. She dominated that stage and if anyone's performance deserves recognition, it's hers. Kudos, nominating committee. I think Patina Miller has the best chance of winning; Pippin is such an exciting spectacle and she runs the show. Let's face it, she deserves a Tony for "Best Biceps by an Actress in a Musical"! Personally, I'd like to see Laura Osnes win it, because she has her own Cinderella story and I know she'd cry with joy -- I love the untamed, emotional acceptance speeches.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Richard Kind has all the buzz in this category, and I did think he was fantastic in The Big Knife (it always takes a strong performer to match Bobby Cannavale onstage!). I'll be satisfied if he takes it home. I would personally squeal with delight if Billy Magnussen got the award. In Vanya, he plays "dumb" -- which I think voters may accidentally assume is his real personality. I've never met him, but I am pretty darn sure it was all an act -- and a brilliant one at that. (Plus, I always think it's fantastic when an actor in any Play can win for a comedy. They seem to be so rarely given the same consideration as the dramas). I've heard great things about Courtney B. Vance, though I never did get a chance to see Lucky Guy; and I suspect that Toby Shaloub and Danny Burstein will cancel each other out, coming from the same show.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

Carrie Coon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

The qualifiers first: I didn't see The Heiress, and I haven't yet seen The Assembled Parties (I know! For shame! I really should remedy that soon). I LOVE Condola Rashad, and I was really taken with Carrie Coon's performance in Virginia Woolf, and I giggled my face off at Shalita Grant in Vanya. That said, I have a feeling from the buzz I've heard that the first name on this particular Tony Award will be Judith. Which one, we shall see.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Of all of the acting categories, this one excites me the least. I saw four of the five shows represented (the exception being Motown), and all of the actors were fantastic; but none of them blew me away. I do really appreciate that comic skills are honored with these nominations. Will Case, Gabriel Ebert, and Terrence Mann all exhibit(ed) timing, facial expressions, and body language that contributed as much to their performances as their dancing and singing abilities. Terrence Mann could get the award as an acknowledgement of his body of work; Keith Carradine could receive it as a nod to Hardbody, since it's unlikely to win in the few other categories where it was nominated. I'd like to see Gabriel Ebert take it, though. He's so delightfully goofy in Matilda, without dumbing anything down. Elevated goofiness -- the world needs more of that!

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

This category!! I am in love with every single one of these performances. Annaleigh Ashford, who I have long respected for her talent as a character actress (despite having leading lady good looks), has found the perfect role to showcase her range. Victoria Clark is Victoria Clark (read: always amazing). Lauren Ward brought her lovely performance as Miss Honey over from London. And Keala Settle surprised the heck out of audiences when she simply stole the show in Hands on a Hardbody!! But I don't think any of them, brilliant as they are, stands a chance against Andrea Martin. Not this year. If you haven't seen her performance yet in Pippin, it's worth the ticket price just for one scene alone. I'd have loved to see Annaleigh or Keala take it, but this one is no contest. Andrea has literally jumped through hoops to win this Tony.

What do YOU think??? Tweet me!!!!

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BroadwayGirl NYC A passionate observer of all things theatrical, @BroadwayGirlNYC via her blog and on Twitter has helped to lead the way of interaction between fans, shows, industry insiders and performers in the brave new world of Showcial Networking. Her unique and positive take on Broadway has broken news, gossip and has helped to shine a light on the ever-growing presence of all things theatrical on Twitter and beyond to her thousands of followers. Along with constant updates, she also pioneered the extremely popular #SingleOnBway campaign which brought together theatre fans in a new and unique way, setting up 'blind dates' as part of a ticket giveaway.