On Sunday night, Radio City Music Hall will host the most star-studded Tony awards in memory. The event caps an unusual year, one in which the film actors who came to Broadway showed an unusual ability to handle the demands of the stage. This time out, A-list Hollywood refugees like Denzel Washington, Jude Law, Christopher Walken, and Scarlett Johansson won’t just be exceedingly attractive statue dispensers — they’re actual contenders for awards. And the telecast itself, often a weak ratings draw, may have a shot at the 18-to-34-year-old demographic, given the number of rock musicals up for awards. (More Nielsen bait: The cast of Glee will perform.) In anticipation, we offer you the most hotly contested battles of the night, from Alfred Molina vs. Denzel vs. Liev Schreiber to American Idiot vs. Fela!, and pick the likely winners.
If critics were voting, the fighting favorites would be American Idiot
would probably take it, because at least a few critics
didn’t think much of Idiot
). Since they’re not, look for Memphis
to sneak by and win.
Not much of a contest: Red will win over In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, Next Fall, and Time Stands Still. But there are a few voters hoping Next Fall scores a little-play-that-could upset.
Alfred Molina (Red) vs. Liev Schreiber (A View From the
Bridge) vs. Denzel Washington (Fences): Tough call, but everyone loves a redemption story, and Washington has the best one, coming to life after his weak Broadway debut in Julius Caesar a few seasons back. He’ll get the “we forgive you” vote and take home the Tony.
It’s a strong category, with good showings by Laura Linney (Time Stands Still), Linda Lavin (Collected Stories), and even Valerie Harper (Looped). Jan Maxwell (The Royal Family) is out of the running, since voters will likely consolidate their votes for her for Lend Me a Tenor in the Best Featured Actress in a Play category, and we think the heavy favorite, Viola Davis (Fences) will win.
It’s the drag queen, Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles), vs. the Afrobeat king Sahr Ngaujah (Fela!), and it’s almost too close to call. But the sheer physicality of the spectacular Nagaujah will give him the edge.
In the battle of the three-named divas — Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) vs. Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture) — Zeta-Jones wins by a hyphen.
Oldsters will split the vote between Barbara Cook (Sondheim on Sondheim) and Angela Lansbury (A Little Night Music), and Katie Finneran will steal the win for Promises, Promises.
Which way will voters go: reward an impressive star debut (A View From the Bridges’s Scarlett Johansson) or give a local stalwart (Lend Me a Tenor’s Jan Maxwell) her due? Oddly, the latter seems more likely.
It will come down to Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences) vs. Eddie Redmayne (Red). Redmayne is only, like, 11, and even though everyone loves new talent, youth can make awards voters a little leery (as in, “Oh, he’ll win one in a couple of years”). Henderson gets the Tony for seniority and merit, and as part of a Fences sweep.
The least predictable category: any of the nominees (including The Addams Family’s Kevin Chamberlin, Finian Rainbow’s Christopher Fitzgerald, and Ragtime’s Bobby Steggert) could take it. Our best guess is that the front-runners are Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet) and Robin de Jesus (La Cage aux Folles), and Kreis has the advantage, with his blowout inhabitation of Jerry Lee Lewis.