Editors' Note: For the third year in a row, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts president and Tony Award voter Fran Macferran shares his take on the favorites at the 67th Annual Tony Awards Sunday night with CultureMap readers.
It’s that time of year again when Broadway is buzzing with new works and big names as the Tony Awards are quickly approaching. As a Tony voter, I have had the privilege to experience some of the best of Broadway this season, and get a preview of productions that could make their way to the Hobby Center here in Houston. My ballot has been cast; here is my breakdown of the top plays and musicals competing for the top awards.
The Leading Play-ers
Much like last year, there are many note-worthy actors and actresses who we know best from TV and film that have given stand-out performances on Broadway this year.
Among these veteran actors is Tom Hanks who proves he is a true character actor in Lucky Guy. In this gritty look at the world of tabloid journalism in 1980s New York City scripted by the late Nora Ephron, Hanks stars as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mike McAlary. Hanks easily translates his acting skills from screen to stage – not an easy task – and has a good shot at the win for Best Actor in a Play.
In Ann, Holland Taylor brings her back to life in a spectacular and uncanny performance. Her nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Play is incredibly well-deserved.
The Best Actor trophy, however, has tough competition from David Hyde Pierce and Nathan Lane; both actors have previously won Tony Awards in this category. Pierce is nominated for his role as Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which stands out as an unbelievable production. The entire cast is off the charts and is the very definition of an ensemble. It is rare to find an ensemble cast where all of the individual actors are so dynamic. Lane is nominated for his performance as Chauncey Miles in The Nance.
The two leading ladies in The Assembled Parties are unbelievable and really carry this phenomenal, off-the-charts-awesome show. Last season, Judith Light blew me away with her performance in Other Desert Cities, for which she won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play, and she continues to amaze with her captivating portrayal of Faye in this family drama. This is her third year in a row to be nominated in the Best Featured Actress in a Play category, and I think she might continue as the reigning champion.
I think most Texans, no matter which side of the aisle they stand on, have a soft spot for former Gov. Ann Richards. In Ann, Holland Taylor brings her back to life in a spectacular and uncanny performance. Her nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Play is incredibly well-deserved. Most plays don’t get a life out on the road, but I am hopeful this one does so more Texans can witness this transformational portrayal of Ann Richards.
The Famed and Familiar Musicals
Looking at the nominated musicals, we see not only beloved musicals and familiar names from the entertainment industry, but also several titles from movies and books. Though several names may be familiar, they certainly take on new identities in musical form and make a phenomenal impression.
Probably one of best-known titles is Annie, up for Best Revival of a Musical. In all my trips to Broadway and years as a Tony voter, this was my first time to see Annie! I’m glad I waited to see this revival’s run and experience Jane Lynch’s portrayal of Miss Hannigan, the character everyone loves to hate. This tried and true musical is worth a second chance for those who think they have already been, there, done that -especially if you get a chance to see it with Lynch.
Pippin has already announced a national tour and I am hoping it will make a stop in Houston.
Also up for Best Revival of a Musical, and definitely my pick, is Pippin. The circus and acrobatic elements are awe-inspiring, and there are many wow factors throughout the show. As the Leading Player, Patina Miller filled the Tony Award winning shoes of original cast member, Ben Vereen, in tremendous fashion. Pippin has already announced a national tour and I am hoping it will make a stop in Houston.
Another familiar name, this time from the bookshelf, is Matilda The Musical. Like my experience in Annie, there was one particular actor who stole the show. Bertie Carvel is amazing from the moment he appears on stage as Miss Trunchbull (a dramatic entrance which you must see yourself!), and is my pick to win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical. The show has been incredibly successful on London’s West End, and the Broadway incarnation definitely has the legs to stick around for quite a while. Hopefully, it will also make its way on tour to Houston.
It’s going to be a tight race between Matilda The Musical and Kinky Boots for Best Musical. Interestingly enough, both have British roots. I think Harvey Fierstein will win for Best Book of a Musical and Cyndi Lauper has a shot of winning in the Best Original Score category. These two might put Kinky Boots over the edge to win Best Musical.
Tony Award votes are cast by secret ballot, but there is of course a lot of speculation and buzz about who will take each award category. The rumored favorites below reflect my opinions only, and not necessarily even my personal favorites:
Best Musical: Kinky Boots or Matilda The Musical
Best Revival of a Musical: Pippin
Best Play: Lucky Guy or Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Revival of a Play: Golden Boy or The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Holland Taylor, Ann or Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Patina Miller, Pippin
The Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center 2013 – 2014 season begins in September with The Book of Mormon – a winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. For more information on the entire season, visit www.thehobbycenter.org.