Read About the Tonys so You Don’t Have to Watch Them

05/27/2009 4:00 AM |

I might be the last person who should predict this year’s Tony Awards (Sunday at 8pm). Up until this past Fall, I hadn’t seen a Broadway show since Cats at age 6; I actively disdain musicals (I still receive hate mail from my old college’s a cappella groups); plus I’ve only seen one show that’s up for nomination, during which I was drunk the entire time. But, I also recently interned at a Broadway production company, and I certainly heard a lot of shit. So I’ve boiled all the rumors and scandals down into this Tony preview, jerry-rigged with hearsay, speculation, and lies.

The Tonys are some weird dudes. There are a lot of categories, each with seemingly inane differentiations: Best Musical, Best Play, Best Revival of a Play, Best Original Score, Best Excuse Jeremy Piven Didn’t Think of (Dear Lord, help me – I just made a theater joke), Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, etc.

The nomination process is one conducted with an incommensurate wackiness. Remember the step system (throw a stack of papers from the top of the stairs, whatever lands on the first step gets an A, second a B, etc.)? Imagine the step system performed by some 700 judges in the topsy-turvy stairs from in this MC Escher print. Not surprisingly, no one who deserves a Tony even gets nominated. I mean, Rock of Ages got 5 nominations for the highest award in theater? That show is like giving closing hour at an Irish Bro-bar a $2 million budget. And yet the immaculate production of The Seagull didn’t even get a nod? Shit’s nonsensical.

So to balance the tangled systems of irrational theater people, I’ve come up with an exceedingly simple preview format. I will begin by describing this year’s most popular shows in two words – one real, one made up – then I will relay to you what I’ve heard about each show (remember: I’ve only actually seen one), then tell you what are its likely wins for different awards, and why.

Musicals: New

Billy Elliot: Industrial Dancenfreude

People love this show! Did you know there are three Billy Elliots?! Crazy. I think it has something to do with child labor laws – like how the Olson Twins played one person on Full House. Those kids should win as a consolation prize for the screwed up lives they’ll soon lead as former child stars.
Likely Wins: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Choreography
Why: Elton John and three little boys is always a winning combination.

Next To Normal: Domesticsickness Whitey

White people can’t get enough of suburban imbalances. That white rich people have problems is a constant source of fascination… for white rich people. A side note: this is directed by the guy who directed Rent. For me, buying tickets to this is like going to dinner with the guy who dropped the hydrogen bomb.
Likely Wins: None
Why: Because Rent. That’s why.

Shrek, The Musical: Green Enfranchisemerchandisemoneymoneymoney

Shrek was made for artistic reasons, I’m sure. Nevertheless, it’s probably a great show for a bat mitzvah.
Likely Wins: Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award, Best Orchestration, Best Costume Design
Why: Broadway theater houses are the only safe place for children in Times Square.

Musicals: Old

Hair: Effervescent Potsmoke

I saw this one when it was in Central Park, and it was (admittedly) pretty awesome. And I usually hate musicals. But I have to throw down.
Likely Wins: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical
Why: Because it’s the only musical I’ve ever enjoyed. That counts for something.

West Side Story: Broadway-ey HighSchoolMusical

People tell me this is terrible. How can you do this show in a way fifteen high schools haven’t done it before? I mean, unless you cast the Sharks as real live sharks, and the Jets as actual aircraft (a la Miss Saigon), there’s no way.
Likely Wins: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Why: Because she’s really very stunning. Wait. What? There are two West Side Story actresses nominated? Well then guess which one I’m talking about.

Plays: New

33 Variations: Jane Fondesquerole

Oh-ho-ho! Looks like Broadway finally got it. A play about music. Like Church and State, the two should be separated. Lyrical narrativity should be made illegal.
Likely Wins: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Why: A lot of people are saying stuff about Marcia Gay Harden winning for God of Carnage. I’m not so sure. Jane Fonda’s got roots. Roots, and a pact with the devil.

God of Carnage: Post-Marital Double-Hating

I guess this play is pretty outstanding. Bringing existentialism to the playground.
Likely Wins: Best Play, Best Direction of a Play
Why: Because the name is so cool. Even if the card reads something else, the presenters will likely read “God of Carnage” just because it’s fun to say.

reasons to be pretty: Mallcopped Relationshipping

Oooh! Oooh! I saw this one! And liked it a lot. Like, a whole lot. (And not because I was drunk.) Maybe not the best play of the year, but they really carved a rapt drama out of simple characters in sharp dialogue. Well done.
Likely Wins: Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Why: Because Marin Ireland. Wow. She played a develop-mentally delayed abused British girlfriend in a war torn Blasted almost immediately before this. The woman has range.

Plays: Old

Speed-the-Plow

Like Billy Elliot, there were actually three actors who played Jeremy Piven in this play. Himself, Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macey.
Likely Wins: Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Why: Not for Jeremy Piven, nor the other two, but for the dude who had to deal with three actors playing opposite him. Raúl Esparza is the man.

Joe Tuner’s Come and Gone

The Obamas went to it.
Likely Wins: Everything
Why: The Obamas went to it.

In conclusion, the Tonys are a silly, silly place, where awards aren’t really given based on merit. I read somewhere that the only reason this granny-pants snooze fest is still on TV is because of the advertising. And not because of the ratings, but because of the income bracket that watches. The programming will likely be bombarded by commercials of shadows proffering each other hovering jewelry, or of banks trying to regain broken trust. Me? I won’t be watching any of the commercials. Heck, I won’t be watching the Tonys at all. I suggest you don’t either. Watching the Tonys is really excruciating for everyone. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.