Playbill's Harry Haun foresees 'Fences' sweep at the Tony Awards
Another veteran Tony Awards watcher is Harry Haun of Playbill. While Haun is in accord with David Sheward (Back Stage) about what will win the top races, he differs on who will claim some of the acting prizes as well as those tough-to-call technical categories. Words below are Harry's.
Best Play will be "Red" because it will tour well: Two characters and a canvas. "Art" -- three characters and a canvas -- beat out the more deserving "Beauty Queen of Leenane." Press might have tipped the balance to "Next Fall."
Best Musical will be "Memphis," the one musical in the running with an original score.
Best Book of a Musical: "Memphis."
Best Original Score: "Memphis" (boy, the Tony nominators hated to give "The Addams Family" that nomination but had to, and filled out the category with incidental music, for gosh sakes).
Best Revival of a Play: "Fences" (a tremendous hit) over the quieter, more subtle "View From the Bridge."
Best Revival of a Musical: "La Cage aux Folles."
Best Actor in a Play: Denzel Washington, who's coasting through this whole thing like a hot-shot movie star (the press might have gotten in Liev Schreiber).
Best Actress in a Play: Viola Davis, the powerhouse in the year's strongest category.
Best Actor in a Musical: Douglas Hodge, the main reason for importing this "La Cage" (he has his detractors, by the way). Don't rule out Sahr Ngaujah or Chad.
Best Actress in a Musical: Catherine Zeta-Jones, for her glamorous presence (otherwise, she's still playing Velma Kelly, not Desiree).
Best Featured Actor in a Play: Stephen McKinley Henderson, thanks to a "Fences" sweep.
Best Featured Actress in a Play: Jan Maxwell for her 10 minutes of play-stealing (unless voters are star-dazzled by Scarlett Johansson and want her to come back).
Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Levi Kreis' Jerry Lee Lewis has a slight edge over Robin De Jesus (the best performance is long gone: Christopher Fitzgerald).
Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Katie Finneran for her 10 minutes of play-stealing (of course, voters could make some Tony history with Angela's sixth).
Best Direction of a Play: Michael Grandage (who also did Jude Law's "Hamlet" this season) will edge out Kenny Leon. (Gregory Mosher was the best, for the record.)
Best Director of a Musical: I suspect it will be Terry Johnson over Christopher Ashley, although Bill T. Jones could be a sleeper win. The crucial omission of Michael Mayer's name here diminishes his show's chances of winning in other categories.
Best Scenic Design for a Play: I dunno, either elegant nest for actors ("The Royal Family" or "Present Laughter"), but a "Fences" sweep could do the trick.
Best Scenic Design for a Musical: "La Cage aux Folles" will probably win over the more elaborate "American Idiot" (which was not liked by senior voters). "The Addams Family" really deserved a nomination here, but the nominators really had a hate-on for the show.
Best Costume Design of a Play: Martin Pakledinaz is the most deserving, but Mrs. August Wilson (Constanza Romero) is in the running.
Best Costume Design of a Musical: The fine feathers of "La Cage aux Folles"-- Matthew Wright.
Best Lighting Design of a Play: "Red" (although "Fences" has a memorable lighting trick at the end).
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: "American Idiot" or "Fela!" could break in here, but voters will probably play it safe with "La Cage aux Folles."
Best Sound Design of a Play: "Fences" and "Red" will fight it out.
Best Sound Design of a Musical: "La Cage aux Folles" vs. "Fela!"
Best Choreography: Showdown for the big guns: Bill T. Jones and Twyla Tharp.
Best Orchestrations: On a hunch, "Promises, Promises."
Photo: "Fences" playbill cover. Credit: Cort Theatre.