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Tony Awards contests are full of real drama

June 15, 2008 | 11:34 am

Broadway rabblerouser Michael Riedel just threw his monkey wrench into the Tonys works (again) — this time suddenly raising doubts that the early pundits' consensus was true: "In the Heights" will win best musical at the Tony Awards.

No, no, no, according to Riedel in Friday's New York Post: " 'Passing Strange' picked up momentum in the last week, and the sense around Broadway was that it will also pick up the Tony Award. The show's score, by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, will also win."


Riedel's Tony Awards predix are usually good, but this daredevil forecast is a minority view that may be wishful thinking by a notorious pixie who adores mischief and real-life drama around Broadway, often hatching it himself (and we adore him for it).

"In the Heights" leads with the most Tonys bids (13). At the Tony Awards, just like at the Oscars, the noms frontrunner tends to trot across the finish line first.

Also, "Heights" better fits the profile of the kind of show that typically triumphs. Most of the 700-plus voters are producers who usually prefer the show with the most potential to be successful as a touring production. That's "Heights."

But the New York Times believes this is a close race, too. Check out what Ben Brantley says - CLICK HERE.

Elysa Gardner of USA Today says "Strange" deserves to win, but she's placing her pundit chips on "Heights." She's among the dozen pundits we polled who are betting on "Heights" — click here to see the full breakdown of predix.

To those let's add the late-breaking view of Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News, who says, "The evening's biggest award — best new musical — will go to "In the Heights," a portrait of life in upper Manhattan, which began Off-Broadway last year at 37 Arts. It's an exuberant mix of old and new, borrowing from Broadway's long history of celebrating New York neighborhoods with song and dance, this time to the beat of salsa and hip hop from composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda."

Other than Riedel, there's only one other pundit I know who's picking "Passing Strange" — it's his TV costar on "Theater Talk," Susan Haskins. They'll own bragging rights if they're right.

There's no drama in the race for best drama. Everybody's picking "August: Osage County" after it's already won everything else this year: Pulitzer, Drama Desk, New York Drama Critics Circle.

The biggest cliffhanger is the contest for best revival of a play. Nine of our pundits are picking "Boeing-Boeing," which is odd, according to Gold Derby's Tonys guru Paul Sheehan, who notes in these video chats (CLICK HERE) that comedies rarely win that category. Therefore, Paul and I predict "Macbeth," which has had rotten Tonys luck in the past. Paul thinks "The Homecoming" could prevail here, if we're wrong about the Scottish play but right that "Boeing" will lose. Here, I'd dare to disagree and bet on "The Seafarer."


As L.A. Times scribe Charles McNulty asserts, it "provided perhaps the most exquisite example this season of actors harmonizing into a haunting theatrical whole . . . . It wasn't always easy to believe that [Harold] Pinter's brawling men [in 'The Homecoming''] inhabited the same North London postal code."