a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

TONY Awards Predictions! Part One

Dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theatre, it’s FINALLY that time of year again! The Tony Awards are upon us! Tomorrow night at 8pm on CBS! Can’t hardly wait!

And who’s going to win? Well, in a very competitive year, some awards have turned into slam dunks already on the awards circuit, and some, a few, well, maybe only one, are up in the air.

The undecided winner is going to be a real nail-biter, because it’s also the last award of the night. A very LONNNNG night for the nervous nominees.

And that of course would be Best Musical. The one Tony award that really carries real box-office clout. And that is a down to a photo finish between “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” which has the leading number of nominations with 10.

And it’s main and very threatening competitor is “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

If we were to go, like we Oscarologists always do, by the precursor awards, IOW, the other relevant awards that occur BEFORE the Tonys themselves, I would have to say it going to be “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”. It won the Outer Critics Circle Award and also the prestigious Drama Desk Award. And it lead the Drama Desks with seven wins just this past Sunday.

So it’s all over in the category. Isn’t it? Well, no.

The OCC and the DD as they are abbreviated are voted on solely by press and critics. And a few years back, the Tonys dumped nearly all their critical, review-writing journalistic members. And now their membership of nearly 800, consists mainly of Broadway producers. And their mind-set is very, very different from that of the critics, who they rightly or wrongly consider their adversaries.

And pundits keep mentioning that frightening one hundred or so stat that represents the road producers. They are the members who are scattered across the country and whose houses host Broadway shows that are touring the country.

The received wisdom is that they might favor a show that would be easier to tour. Hence the rise of “Beautiful:The Carole King Musical” in pundit consideration. It is a great show. And you are ALREADY humming the music BEFORE you go in, because they are all the great songs that one of America’s greatest song-writers, Carole King wtote.

We grew up on these songs. Well, I did anyway, and I love them all. It’s perhaps the greatest juke-box musical ever written. Or it’s right up their with “Jersey Boys,” the most successful juke-box musical of all time that is soon to be a Clint Eastwood directed film, opening in two weeks.

So, will familiarity trump orginality? “A Gentleman’s Guide…” is a totally original work, although iit is based, somewhat, on the great Alec Guiness movie “Kind Hearts and Coronets.” I love that movie. And I love “A Gentleman’s Guide…” I voted for it. And think the Tony voters are going to honor it, too.

It may even sweep. I think, like at the Drama Desk Awards, it will win Best Director of a Musical, the wildly inventive Darko Tresnjak, who also incidentally won the Drama Desk Award.

I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Tresnjak, and also his collaborators in ” Love and Murder” Steven Lutvak, who won Best Lyrics at the Drama Desk. Along with his co-lyricist Robert L. Freedman. In Parts Two and Three of my Tony predictions on this blog, I’m going to post the interviews I just did with all three at the various Drama Desk festivities. Stay tuned!

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