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THEATER TALK: Tony Award Predictions

Katie Buenneke |
June 8, 2012 | 10:38 a.m. PDT

Theater Editor

 Joan Marcus
Joan Marcus
Ladies and gentlemen, the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! No, not Christmas, that's a religious holiday, for starters, and in December, silly. But the Tony Awards are upon us! The awards are just days away, and the theater community is buzzing with opinions on who should/will win.

Now, I can't really say who will win, not being a Tony voter myself, and not knowing their opinions (though the folks over at Time Out seem to have a good idea of what the outcome will be), but I've seen all of the eligible musicals except for two (the revivals of "Evita" and "On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever"), so I can pontificate my opinions on who/what should win in those categories with no qualms at all! (For a full list of nominees, click here.)

Here goes… (drumroll, please)

Best Musical: "Once"
Runner-up: "Newsies"
"Newsies" is an entertaining crowd-pleaser, that's for sure, and I wouldn't be shocked or too upset if it wins on Sunday. But "Once" really captured my heart when I saw it, and on every level, I think it has a slight edge over "Newsies" in terms of being a better musical.

Best Book of a Musical: "Once"
Runner-up: "Lysistrata Jones"
It pains me no end to say that I don't think "Lysistrata Jones" should win the only award it's nominated for (though I'm mostly more upset it didn't receive more nominations), but Enda Walsh's book for "Once" is one of the best I've seen in years.

Best Original Score: "Newsies"
Runner-up: "One Man, Two Guvnors"
"Newsies" really has no competition in this category. "One Man, Two Guvnors," while essentially being a play with a live soundtrack, had cute, relevant songs to accompany it, so I'll give it the runner-up spot.

Best Revival of a Musical: "Porgy and Bess"
Runner-up: n/a
"Porgy and Bess" was spectacular, even if I didn't love the story. I don't think I can name a runner-up without having seen "Evita," as I didn't love "Follies" or "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Jeremy Jordan, "Newsies"
Runner-up: Steve Kazee, "Once"
Now don't get me wrong, I will be exceedingly happy if either of these two gentlemen wins. But I see Jordan's "Newsies" nod as a cumulative recognition of his work on both this and "Bonnie and Clyde" (a la Mark Rylance's nomination and win for "Jerusalem" and the unmentioned "La Bete" in 2011), so I give the edge to him.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Audra McDonald, "Porgy and Bess"
Runner-up: Kelli O'Hara, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
I'm delighted to say that this is a strong category this year! You go, women! (I can't really get away with calling Audra McDonald and Jan Maxwell "girls," can I?) Seriously, though, all five women turned in great performances, which makes it hard to choose a winner, but boy, was Audra's Bess something to behold.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Phillip Boykin, "Porgy and Bess"
Runner-up: n/a
Boykin's Crown was wonderful in "Porgy and Bess" (and when I say wonderful, I mean despicable, but Boykin did a really good job). Not having seen Michael Cerveris in "Evita," I can't comment on who I think should be runner-up.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, "Ghost the Musical"
Runner-up: Judy Kaye, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Another strong category for the ladies! Judy Kaye's teetotaling Estonia Dulworth in "Nice Work" is quite amusing, but Ms. Randolph's Oda Mae is the saving grace of "Ghost."

Best Direction of a Musical: John Tiffany, "Once"
Runner-up: Jeff Calhoun, "Newsies"
In another nomination that could be construed as cumulative (Calhoun for "Newsies" and "Bonnie and Clyde"), I have to give it to Tiffany, whose subtle direction of "Once" shaped it into the beauty it is.

Best Choreography: Christopher Gattelli, "Newsies"
Runner-up: Steven Hoggett, "Once"
Both choreographers are doing amazing work in very different ways. Gattelli's work on "Newsies" is jaw-dropping, and has some of the best dancing I'm ever seen (seriously, does Ryan Steele ever stop pirouetting?). Hoggett, on the other hand, who also choreographed "American Idiot," made more naturalistic movements that were inspired by each character. It's stunning as well, but the sheer astounding level of dancing in "Newsies" gives it the award in my book.

Best Orchestrations:
Martin Lowe, "Once"
Runner-up: William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, "Porgy and Bess"
Apparently it's unpopular to like the orchestrations from "Porgy and Bess," but I enjoyed them. Lowe really did wonderful work on "Once," though, so I think the award should go to him.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, "Ghost the Musical"
Runner-up: George Tsypin, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark"
The two spectacles of the season had the most interesting and inventive sets, so I think the race is really between those two. While both have had their fair share of mishaps, the scenic design in "Ghost" was just unreal.

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes, "Follies"
Runner-up: Eiko Ishioka, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark"
Ishioka came up with some inventive ideas to outfit the cartoon world of "Spider-Man," but Barnes' gowns in "Follies" were too gorgeous to have much competition.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Hugh Vanstone, "Ghost the Musical"
Runner-up: Natasha Katz, "Once"
While Katz did some great work this season on both "Once" and "Follies," sometimes her work was painful to look at from the contrast in extremes. So I'll give it to Vanstone, who did a phenomenal job of keeping the ghost in "Ghost" a supernatural blue, while creating other spectacular effects with illumination and darkness.

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Clive Goodwin, "Once"
Runner-up: n/a
Goodwin's work on "Once" was unparalleled this season. He did a fantastic job of creating natural sound no matter what the circumstances were for the characters.

Reach Katie here, or follow her on Twitter @kelisabethb.

For more Tony Awards coverage, click here.



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