Is there a Tony for Tony?
Australian viewers will cross their fingers and clutch their pearls waiting for the announcement of Best Actor in a Musical in tomorrow’s 65th Annual Tony Awards. Tony Sheldon’s portrayal of Bernadette in Priscilla has brought him worldwide acclaim, culminating in his Broadway debut. Sheldon is quite likely to take the award, with his main competition being Norbert Leo Butz from Catch Me If You Can.
Catch Me If You Can is the new musical from Hairspray composers Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Butz, a Tony winner for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, plays Agent Carl Hanratty, the Tom Hanks role from Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film.
One award where a crystal ball is redundant is Best Musical. The Book of Mormon is a certainty to take home this prize. This will give Australian viewers a Tony winning musical to look forward to seeing on our stages. Last year’s winner Memphis, with its primarily African-American cast, will most likely never come to Australia. 2009’s winner Billy Elliot had already premiered in Australia when it won the Tony. 2008’s In The Heights is another we will never see here due to the Hispanic cast and subject matter. The previous seven Best Musical winners have all played in Australia and The Book of Mormon will surely makes its way here too. The subject matter is somewhat American but tv shows like Big Love and Sister Wives have paved the way for us to follow the story.
Best Play is also something of a certainty, with the emotional epic War Horse leading the pack. Hopefully viewers will see some of the puppets from the show in the telecast, as they have to be seen to be believed. The Handspring Puppet Company are being given a Special Tony Award for their achievements here.
The tale of a boy and his beloved horse is perfect for Australian audiences and War Horse will be a huge hit here. The interesting aspect will be that we will not see it here until after the Steven Spielberg movie based on the same novel comes out at Christmas this year. Will the movie spoil the suspense and drama for play audiences?
War Horse faces some competition from Jerusalem, a play that the subsidised theatre companies should be fighting over for next year. British actor Mark Rylance, winner of Best Actor for Boeing, Boeing, will win his second Tony for Jerusalem.
Two classics musicals that have already seen hit revivals are back again on Broadway this year. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying stars Daniel Radcliffe, one of several Hollywood stars overlooked by Tony voters this year. Anything Goes will win Best Revival of a Musical, with the sensational Sutton Foster winning her second Best Actress Tony Award for her turn as Reno Sweeney.
Other overlooked actors this season include Robin Williams in the play A Bengal Tiger in the Baghad Zoo, Ben Stiller in The House of Blue Leaves and Chris Rock in Motherf***er in the Hat.
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker will win Best Direction for The Book of Mormon, with Nicholaw also taking honours for Choreography. Trivia: Nicholaw is the speed tapper on the cast recording of Thoroughly Modern Millie, in which he was choreographed by fellow 2011 Choreography nominee Rob Ashford. The Book of Mormon will also win Best Book and Best Score, plus Best Orchestrations thrown in for good measure.
Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, a searing political and emotional drama about AIDS, will win Best Revival of a Play.
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner will surely take home Best Costume Design of a Musical, their umpteenth award for the spectacular work on Priscilla.
Laura Benanti is a favourite for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the short-lived Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Frances McDormand is quite likely to win Best Actress in A Play for her role in the new drama Good People.
An intriguing new development for Australian audiences is the idea of Broadway shows being filmed for screening in cinemas around the world. The Met Opera started this practice, which has extended to include plays by Britain’s National Theatre as well ballets and operas from other houses. Australian companies have made a foray here as well with Opera Australia filming some works for cinema release.
This weekend The Importance of Being Earnest was screened in select cinemas around Australia. The production is currently running on Broadway, and Best Actor nominee Brian Bedford will be seen in tomorrow’s telecast. Other productions that have been filmed include New York Philharmonic’s all-star concert of Company and 2010 Best Musical Memphis. Both of these shows will be featured in performances in the 2011 Tony Awards. Release dates have not been set for Australian screens but hopefully we will see both of these very soon.