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Howard & Shubow's Tony Picks 2007

This Sunday night, the 61st Annual Tony Awards presentation will air on CBS from Radio City Music Hall. (Channel 13 in Baltimore, Channel 9 in Washington, DC)

Charles Shubow (CS):  It was not a typical year on Broadway.  In the "Best Musical" department, two of the four nominees are from successes on the Off-Broadway stage (Grey Gardens and Spring Awakening). One Best Play nominee was actually three separate plays with three separate admissions but treated as one (The Coast of Utopia)  Of the four nominees for Best Revival of a Play, one is from Ireland (Translations) and one from England (Journey's End).  And one of the bigger hits in Times Square didn't even get nominated for Best Musical, Legally Blonde.

James Howard (JH): Yes, and I'll admit that Legally Blonde was the most fun I had all year at a show on Broadway.  Well, at least this year there were more than enough possible candidates for each category!  None of them really feel like the nominating committee had to stretch to fill slots.  In fact, I think there are some significant omissions.  But the nominations are what they are, and here we are to name who we feel will win the Tony in each of the 25 categories come Sunday, June 10th!  In some cases, we named "will win"s vs. "should win"s.  Occasionally, we named a "might win" in tough to call categories.  Good luck, Charles!  And congratulations to all the nominees and even to those not nominated for one heck of a Broadway season! 

In the order of the printable ballot found at www.tonyawards.com, here are our predictions for the 2007 Tony Awards:

Results below in RED!

Choreography:

JH: This is a tough one, though I think we can safely eliminate Bill T. Jones of Spring Awakening, as I'm not sure the Tony voters will recognize stylized (and yet completely appropriate) masturbation as choreography.  Will Win: Matthew Bourne & Stephen Mear for Mary Poppins.  Who can resist a cast of thousands in step or a lone tapper tapping upside down?  Should/Might Win: Jerry Mitchell for Legally Blonde.  Since literally every single element of this show is choreographed Tony voters may decide to give LB this bone to make up for no Best Musical or Best Director nod.  I thought it was slick and fun throughout.

CS: Should win - Bill T. Jones would win his first Tony for his first musical Spring Awakening. Will win… it is tough to believe Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear won't win for Mary Poppins.

Charles was half right!  Boy, was I wrong!

Orchestrations: 

CS: Spring Awakening (although it's a small group of musicians on stage).

JH: The folks at Curtains were robbed here, as was Company.  At least Company's orchestrator won last year (for Sweeney Todd), but David Loud and crew over at Curtains have a really large old-fashioned orchestra… ah, well…  Will Win: Jonathan Tunick for LoveMusik.  When was the last time you saw orchestra members stand for a solo from the pit and get as much applause as the actors onstage?  Might Win: Duncan Sheik for Spring Awakening.  It could be a sweep for SA, and those onstage musicians cause quite a stir considering how few of them there are!  Either case would be just fine with me.

Charles was totally right, I was half right!

Book of a Musical: 

JH: Will Win/Should Win: Rupert Holmes and Peter Stone for Curtains.  Hands down the best script of a musical in years – maybe even since the last time Holmes won (1986 – The Mystery of Edwin Drood).  It is witty, old-fashioned AND modern.  It has no outside source.  And it is a murder mystery with virtually no holes in it.  Might Win: Steven Sater Spring Awakening.  Think sweep, though having read the play on which it is based, I think Sater is pretty close to the original source.

CS: No question again. Spring Awakening.

Charles, again was totally right; I was half right, though I think Curtains was gypped.

Original Score Written for the Theatre: 

CS: Will and should win Spring Awakening. This, though, is one category where an upset could happen.

JH: Will/Should Win: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater for Spring Awakening.  These songs are artful poems, very dramatic, and they advance theatre music by about 30 years.  I remember being absolutely electrified the first time I heard it last year at the Atlantic Theatre, and it still gives me chills after seeing it 4 times and wearing a hole in the CD.  Might Win: Fred Ebb, John Kander & Rupert Holmes for Curtains.  Chock full of traditional Broadway music with lyrics that match its amazing script, this score is also a tribute to one of the greatest Broadway writing teams ever.  And it is damned good!  Try listening to "Thataway!" and NOT hum it all day long!  If it wins, I won't be disappointed or surprised.

We were BOTH right!

Scenic Design of a Play:

JH:  This is tough, at least on paper.  Any other year, any of these designs could win.  But Bob Crowley & Scott Pask really designed three plays.  Will Win/Should Win: The Coast of Utopia.  Might Win:  Just to show that we Americans aren't all that dumb, Coram Boy (Ti Green and Melly Still).  I mean we killed it by not going to it, but we do know pretty stuff when we see it.

CS: Nothing can touch The Coast of Utopia.

We were BOTH right!

 

Scenic Design of a Musical:

CS: Will win Mary Poppins.

JH: This one is even tougher.  They are all fantastic and really fit the shows they were designed for.  I think we can safely eliminate Allen Moyer for Grey Gardens, two small sets and nothing really outstanding.  Might Win: Christine Jones has recreated an entire building (the Atlantic Theatre) on the stage at the Eugene O'Neill, and it is symbolic and lovely, but perhaps too intellectual for the one time viewing that Tony voters get.  Should Win: Anna Louizos's amazing folding set for High Fidelity.  It was music for the eyes, but the show closed months ago.  Will Win: Bob Crowley for Mary Poppins.  Not to say that he doesn't deserve it, he does.  But it could be a payback for overlooking Tarzan last year.  The only real thing holding it back is Disney backlash.  Of course they have the fanciest sets – no one else can afford them!  Still, I felt like a kid at Christmas every time the scenery changed!

We were BOTH right! 

Costume Design of a Play: 

JH: Will Win/Should Win: Catherine Zuber for The Coast of Utopia.  For all the same reasons as the scenic design for it.

CS: No question. Catherine Zuber for The Coast of Utopia.

We were BOTH right! 

Costume Design of a Musical:

CS: Mary Poppins

JH: Will/Should Win: Bob Crowley for Mary Poppins (see Scenic Design of a Musical for why).  In case of DB (Disney Backlash): Could Win: Gregg Barnes for Legally Blonde (at least for Elle's costumes) or William Ivey Long for Grey Gardens (at least for Little Edie's Act Two costumes).

Charles missed this one; I was half right.

Special Theatrical Event:

JH: I didn't see either show.  But I'm going to go with Jay Johnson: The Two and Only.  Why?  Because Broadway loves puppets (Carnival, Avenue Q, The Lion King) and what other Broadway star is literally in the Smithsonian!!??

CS: Jay Johnson: The Two and Only

We were BOTH right! 

Lighting Design of a Play:

CS: The Coast of Utopia

JH:  This is always tough, because good lighting is unnoticed lighting (usually).  Will Win/Should Win: The Coast of Utopia (MacDevitt, Posner and Katz).  Might Win: Coram Boy (Paule Constable).  Why?  See the other play design awards.

We were BOTH right!

 

Lighting Design of a Musical:

JH: Will Win/Should Win: Kevin Adams for Spring Awakening.  It creates mood and includes the audience in its grasp.  And it is lovely. 

CS: Without question, Spring Awakening

We were BOTH right! 

Direction of a Play:

CS: Bank on Jack O'Brien for The Coast of Utopia

JH: This is a three-way race.  Too close to call, if you ask me.  But I gotta pick, so… Jack O'Brien for The Coast of Utopia.  Might Win: Michael Grandage for Frost/Nixon (any other year this one might have won the Best Play prize) or David Grindley for Journey's End (the best play no one saw).

We were BOTH right! 

Direction of a Musical:

CS: Ditto on Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening.

JH: Will Win/Should Win: Michael Mayer for Spring Awakening.  The most stylish, symbolic and tight direction of a musical in some time.  Could Win: Scott Ellis.  He's about due, and he kept a tight fist around what could have been a messy mystery, keeping it moving and clear at the same time.  Plus the Broadway community loves this guy – read any interview with a cast member…

We were BOTH right! 

Featured Actor in a Play:

JH: I loved the Radio Golf guys here in Baltimore.  But I think Billy Crudup Will Win.  He's in The Coast of Utopia, and he's paid his Broadway dues, and is still considered a "youngster".  His last nomination/loss for The Pillowman makes him due this time around.

CS: I have seen all five of these terrific actors (although two from CENTERSTAGE's Radio Golf). I loved Billy Crudup in The Coast of Utopia so I am predicting his victory.

We were BOTH right! 

Featured Actress in a Play:

CS: Jennifer Ehle in The Coast of Utopia. A marvelous performance.

JH: Will Win/Should Win: Martha Plimpton (she's in that play, too), but she's another one who has paid her dues.  Jennifer Ehle already has one, Jan Maxwell wasn't what everyone hoped she'd be in Coram Boy, Xanthe Elbrick might have won if anyone actually SAW Coram Boy, and Dana Ivey is, well, filler – a Broadway favorite in a lousy revival of a play.

Way to go Charles!

 

Featured Actor in a Musical:

JH: Should Win:  My favorite thing about Spring Awakening, John Gallagher, Jr.  Will Win: David Pittu for LoveMusik.  If he wins it's ok by me…he was riveting and fun to watch and very dynamic.  Plus, guess what play he was in before going over to LM?  You guessed it!  The Coast of Utopia!

CS: Should and will win: David Pittu of LoveMusik.

We were BOTH wrong, though I was half right.

Featured Actress in a Musical:

CS: Tough category. Should win, Charlotte D'Amboise, A Chorus Line,  but Mary Louise Wilson will win for Grey Gardens.

JH: Should Win/Might Win: Orfeh for Legally Blonde.  She is memorable, loveable, has an amazing voice, and a sexy husband…oh, wait… scratch that last one.  And she has really paid her dues (Saturday Night Fever, Footloose).  Will Win: Mary Louise Wilson for Grey Gardens.  She annoyed the hell out of me, but Big Edie should do that.  But most of all, this Broadway perennial needs a Tony to add to her trophy case.  She's way overdue.  For all the same reasons as Wilson, Rebecca Luker could win for Mary Poppins or Charlotte D'Amboise could win for A Chorus Line, plus someone really owes her for Sweet Charity

We were BOTH right! 

Best Actor in a Play:

JH:  With the firing of Don Imus, Liev Schreiber in Talk Radio isn't as relevant as he was when the show opened.  Plus he already has one.  Brian F. O'Byrne is the Audra MacDonald of the Play Division.  Every time he sneezes he gets nominated.  Christopher Plummer has a couple already, and does anyone even know Inherit the Wind is on Broadway again?  Boyd Gaines has 3, and this one would give him a Tony in each of the acting categories.  Maybe next time, Boyd.  Will Win: Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon.  Great performance and he hasn't gotten a new Tony in years.

CS: My sentimental favorite: Boyd Gaines in Journey's End, but I predict Frank Langella will win for Frost/Nixon.

We were BOTH right! 

Best Actress in a Play:

JH:  This one is tougher than it looks.  We can eliminate Swoozie Kurtz, a brilliant actress in a play that closed months ago and wasn't too memorable of a revival.  Everyone says Vanessa Redgrave is great, but she always is, and more than one critic thought the play would have been better served by its author doing the acting.  Might Win: Angela Lansbury is my personal idol.  And she is terrific in Deuce, but the play isn't as good as she is, most people think.  But she is an icon.  Should Win:  Julie White for The Little Dog Laughed.  Hers was a brilliant performance from start to finish – never self-indulgent, and howlingly funny.  Will Win: Eve Best for A Moon for the Misbegotten.  I didn't see her, but everyone says she's the reason to really see the show, plus we love to show that as Americans we recognize the quality of British actors.

CS: Julie White (Little Dog Laughed). She was terrific. But who WILL win...Vanessa Redgrave and who can ever argue about that. 

We were BOTH half right!

Best Actor in a Musical:

CS: Raul Esparza plain and simple in Company.

JH: All five are giving awesome performances.  But the winner Will/Should/Might Win: Raul Esparza.  He has redefined a major musical theatre role, finding nuance and depth never before seen in a Bobby in Company.  He is magnetic to watch and thrilling to listen to.  While we are here… GO TO THE BARRYMORE AND SEE COMPANY!!!!  The attendance is atrocious and it is such an amazing show!!! 

We were BOTH wrong!  And man, was I shocked!  Still, go see Company!

 

Best Actress in a Musical:

JH: Man, am I glad my job doesn't hinge on picking this winner.  All five are giving amazing performances, and any of them could legitimately take home the Tony.  But I think we can eliminate Laura Bell Bundy (she makes it look too easy, and she is young.  At least we know she'll win the next time she's up for one…), and we can eliminate Debra Monk (she can belt out a tune and she is funny as all get out in Curtains, but she's been better elsewhere without a Tony nod).  Might Win: Audra MacDonald.  Not because she necessarily deserves a 5th Tony for being the best thing in a mediocre show, but because she may win after a split in the vote between the other two nominees.  Should Win: Donna Murphy in LoveMusik.  She's Baaack!  And as great as ever.  She is amazing and disappears in her role as Lotte Lenya.  Hers is a brilliant performance, period.  Will Win:  Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens.  She's the real reason to see the show, and the real reason it is still open.  She's won every other award for it.  But the only thing she has against her is she's really yesterday's news.  A fluke in timing is the only reason it wasn't hers last season.

CS: Go the bank. I have to admit I hated Grey Gardens, but I was in awe of the performance of Christine Ebersole.

We were BOTH right! 

Play Revival:

CS: The incredible Journey's End, which tragically ends its journey on Broadway this Sunday. While I didn't see Translations on Broadway, I did see it at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and I hope a local theater will produce it soon.

JH:  Inherit the Wind is on Broadway again?  Talk Radio?  Death by Imus.  Translations?  This season's only filler nominee.  The only one anyone talks about Will Win/Should Win:  Journey's End.  It's a shame no one went to see it.  By the time it gets the prize, it will be a memory. 

We were BOTH right! 

Musical Revival:

JH:  The best news here is that Les Miserables was shut out.  The Apple Tree didn't meet anyone's expectations.  110 in the Shade is a good production of a dull show (every review I read said that).  A Chorus Line is exactly what it should be – a detailed reproduction of a masterpiece.  To have toyed with it would be to ruin it.  It is still, and by far, the greatest musical ever to play Broadway.  But re-creation doesn't win you best revival anymore; innovation does (thank God!).  And in that department, Company is the Hands Down Winner!  Some will say it will win because Sweeney Todd, done in the same style, lost last year.  (That still ticks me off!).  But, believe it or not, that style works even better for Company!  And like I said before, GO TO THE BARRYMORE AND SEE COMPANY!!!!  The attendance is atrocious and it is such an amazing show!!!

CS: Of the four, I only saw The Apple Tree which I loved. Kristen Chenoweth should have been nominated for a Tony. Look for Company to win where Sweeney could not.

JH: I'm not the "Cheno" fan you are, Charles! 

We were BOTH right! 

Best Play:

CS: Should win is The Coast of Utopia…an amazing theatrical experience. But I am calling for an upset with the wonderful Radio Golf which I only saw at CENTERSTAGE. This will be the last opportunity for Tony voters to give August Wilson a Tony for an original work. I never laughed at Little Dog Laughed.

JH: Will Win/Should Win: The Coast of Utopia!  Might Win: Frost/Nixon.  And I loved both The Little Dog Laughed and Radio Golf…guess we'll have to agree to disagree about Little Dog.

 Charles missed this one; I was  right.

Best Musical:

CS: Without a doubt, Spring Awakening. There were many empty seats when I saw it, but there won't be for a long time. I find myself listening to the CD constantly. Grey Gardens to me was a bore. I have not seen either Curtains or Mary Poppins.

JH: Will/Should Win: Spring Awakening.  It is brilliantly conceived and executed and has ignited an entirely new generation of theatergoers.  Still, I wouldn't be crushed if Curtains won, and Mary Poppins takes Disney musicals to the next level.  Grey Gardens is a strong player, but the weakest in a field of strength.  No worries, all four will have long, healthy lives, and all five (including the underrated Legally Blonde) will be seen at every level of theatre there is. 

We were BOTH right!

To recap:

Charles predicts: 6 for Spring Awakening, 6 for The Coast of Utopia, 3 for Mary Poppins, 2 each for Grey Gardens and Company, and 1 each for LoveMusik, Journey's End, Radio Golf, JayJohnson: The Two and Only, The Year of Magical Thinking and Frost/Nixon.

Charles guessed 19.5 correctly!

James predicts: 7 for The Coast of Utopia, 4 for Spring Awakening, 3 for Mary Poppins, 2 each for LoveMusik, Grey Gardens and Company, and 1 each for Journey's End, Curtains, Frost/Nixon, Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

James guessed 19.5 correctly, too!  However, Charles had more exactly correct!  Way to go Charles!

Both see the potential for a few upsets and/or close calls. 


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