2009 Tony Award Nominations

Should have hopped on this one sooner, but I had to finish some backing tracks for rehearsal today. In the least surprising Tony nomination ceremony in quite a few years, Billy Elliot comes out on top. Expect Elton John to pick up his second Tony (previously winning for Aida) for actually composing a real, honest to goodness, traditional styled Broadway score. Choreography, sound design, scenic design, and director seem like foregone conclusions as well.Do not count on the trifecta of Billy's to win Best Actor. The "count all three as one" decision by the Tony committee was not without controversy as each child plays the part very different from the others. While Billy Elliot is the obvious choice to win the big prize, do not count out Next to Normal. Next to Normal is the "serious/adult/different" show of the season and a total wildcard for one reason: it was eligible for the other NYC theater awards last year. The committees that considered looking at Next to Normal again only wanted to look at the new actor in the show and ignore the heavily revised book and score. What started as a show with mixed to poor reviews has transformed into a critical darling. The serious subject matter and innovative staging, combined with three stunning performances and the latest release of the nominees but not so late they didn't get to see it, makes it the dark horse candidate for the win. I'd be willing to place my money on Allison Janey winning Lead Actress in a musical solely because the Tony voters didn't warm up to West Side Story. Rock of Ages? Shrek? Seat fillers. Maybe some technicals for Shrek. Rock of Ages has an outside shot at sound design because of the style of music. Otherwise, better luck next show, creators, cast, and designers. At this point, it's fairly safe to say that Hair will win Revival. West Side Story received mixed reviews and the cast is (apparently) consistently making mistakes on stage. Guys and Dolls received a big old "Why?" response from critics and audience alike. Pal Joey never really took off as expected. The reviews were good, but the Tonys favor shows that are still running at the time of nominations/final voting, and its the only closed entry in the category. I think West Side Story will win for Featured Actress because Karen Olivio is phenomenal in the show. They clearly like her considering she's 2/3 on nominations (Brooklyn who? I saw the show twice and could not tell you what part she played). Guys and Dolls might have a shot for lighting if the voters really go for well done, super-flashy design. Otherwise, Hair might get Director (it's considered the show of the season because Billy Elliot opened so early by comparison), sound design (rock show with well loved score), costumes, and Featured Actor. Possible category spoilers? If the [Title of Show] love is there, they might be able to win in Best Book. It's a show that received great reviews but just wasn't earning enough money for a long run. A later opening could only have meant more nominations. Irving Berlin's White Christmas cannot be ruled out as a possibility in Choreography, as the many, many tap numbers were spectacular; I'd still say Billy Elliot is the clear winner here. As for the plays: I'm not convinced that Angela Lansbury will win here. The Tonys loved her start in musicals, evident by going 4/4 on Actress (as in lead, not featured) wins, but hasn't faired as well in straight plays. Blithe Spirit is quite popular right now, but the support among voters just didn't surface. It happens. I'm split on Best Play. God of Carnage has the leg-up with the Pulitzer win, but 33 Variations is very popular. I'm leaning towards the latter, but reserve the right to change my mind when the date looms closer. I'm clueless on Revival. Waiting for Godot is safely out, as people still just don't get the show. If Goodman, with his glowing reviews, managed to get in, I'd consider it a safer bet; he didn't. Mary Stuart is more likely to win Actress than Play, though enthusiasm for the two leads could spill over here. I don't even know enough of the other two to say. My guess? The Norman Conquests win, just because they had to make a decision on how to count the production: 1 or 3 plays. Liza's a lock for Special Event.