Last year, Angela Lansbury tied record-holder Julie Harris when she won a fifth Tony Award for her featured (supporting) performance as the madcap Madame Arcati in the Noel Coward play "Blithe Spirit." Martin Denton (NYTheatre.com) predicts Lansbury will break that tie this year when she wins for her featured (supporting) role as the cynical Madame Armfeldt in the first rialto revival of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 Tony-winning tuner "A Little Night Music."
It is a tad early for Gold Derby to be bugging Broadway journos for Tonys predix with 10 shows still to open in the home stretch of the eligibility period before nominations are announced on May 4. But we're asking the experts anyway and will be featuring lots of their views here. Let's start with Martin, who admits, "Since I haven't seen a lot of the shows yet myself, everything else is seat-of-the-pants, gut instinct stuff." But here goes. Martin's views below.
Only sort of obvious shoo-in: Angela Lansbury will win No. 6 for "A Little Night Music" as best featured actress.
Best musical: "American Idiot" looks like the major contender. I loved "Come Fly Away," but I don't think it's going to register big in the race this year (except look for Karine Plantadit to get nominated). Other likely nominees: "The Addams Family" on account of it feeling like a hit, "Fela," "Memphis" and "Million Dollar Quartet."
The acting categories for musicals feel wide open to me except for Lansbury. For best actor in a musical: Sahr Ngaujah in "Fela" or Douglas Hodge in "La Cage aux Folles" maybe? Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane ("The Addams Family"), Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth ("Promises, Promises") could all be contenders -- haven't seen their shows yet!
The best-play race feels like it may ultimately be impacted by the new composition of the voters this year. Lots of possibilities here: "Next Fall," "Race," "Enron," "Red" seem like likely nominees. I feel like Christopher Walken ("A Behanding in Spokane"), James Spader ("Race"), and Liev Schreiber ("A View From the Bridge") are very strong best actor contenders; maybe add Denzel Washington ("Fences") to the mix and you'll have a very starry category. Best Actress in a play is very much wide open. If the Tonys included off-Bway, Cate Blanchett would be walking away with it, however, right?
Photo: Angela Lansbury in "A Little Night Music." Credit: Walter Kerr Theatre