Montego Glover ("Memphis") is locked in an intriguing battle over the Tony Award for best lead actress. Some pundits like Martin Denton (NYTheatre.com) believe she'll win because she received rave reviews ("a thrilling singer and commanding actress," cheered John Simon of Bloomberg News) and stars in a front-runner to win best musical. Lots of times, performers go along for the Tony ride when their shows win the tuners' trophy: Think Angela Lansbury in best-musical champ "Sweeney Todd."
But Glover isn't a celebrity and past Oscar nominee like Lansbury, and she's competing against Oscar champ Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago") in "A Little Night Music," nominated for best revival. Believe it or not, that may not be a serious issue. Tony voters often scorn Hollywooders like they're invading carpetbaggers, preferring their own, more obscure Broadway kin. Consider the 2005 race for best actress in a play when Cherry Jones ("Doubt") beat Laura Linney ("Sight Unseen"), Phylicia Rashad ("Gem of the Ocean") and Kathleen Turner ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"). Heck, this year, the Tonys refused even to nominate Hugh Jackman or Daniel Craig after they received critical praise for "A Steady Rain."
That said, could Glover's toughest rival be Sherie Rene Scott, who reaped critics' huzzahs for her autobiographical show "Everyday Rapture"? She's a lesser-known Broadway insider previously nominated for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." Or maybe Glover has no tough rival?
Photo: Montego Glover in "Memphis." Credit: Shubert Theatre