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Tony Awards predix: 'American Idiot' and 'Enron' are front-runners to win best musical and play

April 9, 2010 |  1:57 pm

After every Tonys season, two of our smartest gurus always turn out to be David Sheward (Back Stage) and Matt Windman (amNewYork). Yesterday we gave you David's early Tony Awards predix. Now Matt sends Gold Derby readers these thoughts:

This is a year in which Tony predictors should be even more conservative in their thinking than ever before. As you recall, the press corps, the only truly impartial section of the Tony voters, were removed as voters back in July. (Members of the Drama Critics Circle will not be reinstated as voters until next season.) That leaves the voting completely in the hands of producers and other biased industry professionals. The shows that are most commercial are the shows that will probably win.

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It's still way too early to accurately predict best play and best musical, mainly because the shows that I suspect are most likely to win both categories still haven't officially opened: namely "American Idiot" and "Enron."

At this point, I think that only "Fela!" and "American Idiot" are sure to be nominated for best musical. "Come Fly Away," "Memphis," "Everyday Rapture," "Sondheim on Sondheim," "Million Dollar Quartet" and "The Addams Family" are all up in the air.
 
"American Idiot" compares nicely with 2007 best musical winner "Spring Awakening" and has pop culture/Green Day appeal. Plus, it seems to be selling very well at the box office.
 
"Fela!" (a show that I truly despise) will (unfortunately) receive a nomination, but will most certainly not win. It may have fooled certain critics, columnists and celebrities into thinking it actually says something important, but it has absolutely no shot at appealing to countrywide voters looking for touring potential.

"Memphis," which got great reviews from many critics and has been holding on steadily at the box office, is a smartly written, extremely well-staged and passionately performed show. I'm not even sure it will be nominated. But if so, could it possibly topple "American Idiot"? It's a long shot. Still, "Memphis" has already announced plans for a national tour. And even if Charles Isherwood didn't go for it, it's an audience-friendly show with a melodic score and strong characters.

"Sondheim on Sondheim" has the advantage of capitalizing on Sondheim's 80th birthday, but it sounds like something we've all seen before. What musical theater fan hasn't heard Barbara Cook sing "Buddy's Eyes"? It's just more of the same. But I hear the video footage of Sondheim is really nifty.

"Come Fly Away" received some positive reviews. But in all seriousness, is it really a musical? If "Contact" was considered a musical, I guess "Come Fly Away" qualifies as one too. The dancers' union is currently pursuing legal action under the theory that it's not a musical. Still, the show is polished, Frank Sinatra provides a comfy soundtrack, and the dancing is fierce. I have truly no idea what to make of its chances for a nomination.

Then there's "Million Dollar Quartet." It had a great run in Chicago. I am actually seeing it tonight, so I will keep you updated. If "American Idiot" wants to be the new "Spring Awakening," "Million Dollar Quartet" wants to be the next "Jersey Boys." And if it can pull that off, it could turn into a surprise hit pretty quickly.

As for "Addams Family," at the time of this writing, the reviews won't come out till tomorrow. But having seen it and personally written a review, I can say with confidence that it does not deserve to even be nominated for Best Musical. It's not "Young Frankenstein," but it's not "Spamalot" either. 
 
And what of Sherie Rene Scott's "Everyday Rapture," which only joined the Broadway lineup one week ago? With the special event category now gone, "Everyday Rapture" can only be considered as a musical. And though it is a tiny biographical musical, I remember it as being very entertaining. It could possibly snag a nomination for best musical over something much bigger.
 
Let's switch back to best play. "Enron," which is said to have a large cast and high production values, is bound to attract a large audience due to its economic relevance. No show, be it a play or musical, has yet to emerge that has really capitalized on the recession and dissected the financial culture that helped bring it about.
 
"Time Stands Still" got great reviews during its Manhattan Theater Club run, but it's now closed and will soon be forgotten entirely. "Looped" will close on Sunday and has virtually no shot at a nomination. David Mamet's "Race" will probably not be nominated. "A Behanding at Spokane" could receive a nomination for best play, but wouldn't win.

But what of "Red," the gripping two-character drama about Mark Rothko? If the response to "Enron" is weaker than expected, "Red" could conceivably win best play. However, at this point, I still suspect that "Enron" will win best play, while Alred Molina might win a much-deserved Tony for Best Actor in a Play. 
 
"Next Fall" will definitely be nominated for best play, but it's such a small, understated show that it could have trouble competing against "Enron" and "Red." Should it win the Pulitzer Prize for drama, that would certainly boost its Tony Award potential. 
 
Some other quick thoughts: "Bye Bye Birdie" will be completely shut out from the nominations; "Promises, Promises" will be up against "La Cage Aux Folles" for best musical revival; and "Fences" might take best revival of a play over "A View from the Bridge" and "Lend Me a Tenor."

RELATED LINKS

David Sheward's gutsy, early Tony Award predictions

Tony Awards predix: Angela Lansbury will score historic sixth win

Tony Awards preview: What will win best play?

Photo credits: Playbill

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Comments

"Enron," seen Tuesday night, is a strong, informative first act and a blistering second. Their Tony problem is that you hate all the key, greedy principals. But that may be offset by the show's message in the home town of Ponzi Madoff and the SEC attack on Goldman Sachs. "American Idiot," the new generation's "Tommy," supports their anger and hopelessness without easy fixes. Widman has made strong, fresh choices.

Pre-dics: Fela, Memphis, American Idiot, The Addams Family..Best Musical...possibles: Burn the Floor, Million Dollar Quartet, Come Fly Away, Sondheim on Sondheim..

Best Revival: Promises, Promises, La Cage.., A Little Night Music, Finian's Rainbow

Fela! is a brilliant musical. The story telling is more sophisticated than anything on Broadway this season, and it's actually about something that matters to artists and audiences alike - the freedom to express oneself and the courage to do so when your opinions are unpopular or suppressed by a devious government. I guess you didn't get that behind your LA sunglasses, you're just "too cool for school" and so obviously smarter than audiences, other critics or theatre professionals (personally, I despise critics who try to make their opinions shine by slighting everyone else's intelligence, it really speaks more to the intelligence and insecurity of said critic than those that disagree with his opinion). But you're right, it won't win because the Tony Awards, as you so rightly point out, aren't primarily about artistic excellence, but rather what will sell to the middling middle of the country.

Reports from the first previews of "Enron" are that it's odd, distancing and all over the place. Some might think it's brilliant but it may also be too divisive to win. On the other hand, a weepy like "Next Fall" and an intellectual two-hander like "Red" both fit the profiles of past winners.


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