The Top 5 Tony Nomination Surprises.

The 2010 Tony Award Nominations were announced just two-and-a-half hours ago and, as always, they included a few surprises.

Here are my top five head-shakers:

1.  The season’s biggest hit doesn’t get a shot at Best Musical.

Poor Addams Family.  On second thought, with their last week’s gross topping $1.3 million, I think the last word that we can use in the same sentence as Addams Family is “poor.”  However, for the 3rd year in a row, the Tony Nominators snubbed a big, fat (yet original), commercial show that steamrolled into town to less than enthusiastic critical acclaim, but a lot of popular love.  Legally Blonde, 9 To 5 and now The Family.  Honestly, this wasn’t much of a surprise.  What was a surprise was that the jukebox-y Million Dollar Quartet took the fourth spot over Come Fly Away . . . and frankly, I’m still surprised at how both of them were considered more of a contender for this slot than Family, considering that Family is more of a traditional musical than both of them combined.  Let’s face it . . . the nominators officially like the jukebox musical. They embraced Rock of Ages last year, and this year, MDQ.

So, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert . . . fear not.

Two questions come to mind as a result of this surprise:

– Will Addams Family get a number on the show?

– Will their grosses suffer an immediate drop as a result of the snub?

Answers?

– Yes.

– And no.

2.  Stars actually got nominations.

Sometimes the Tony nominators like to tell Hollywood stars to go back where they came from, by overlooking them for a possible Tony trophy.  Not this year. Denzel Washington (who was overlooked in 2005 for his Caesar), Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Kelsey Grammer, Jude Law, Christopher Walken, Linda Lavin, David Alan Grier, and Sean Hayes all got nods for their work on the boards this year.  (Left off the list were our usual favorites, Kristin Chenoweth, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, but their mantles are doing just fine, I’d say).  The fact that the nominations look like the invite list to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party is a good thing.  Most importantly, all of these stars did fantastic work this year and deserve the kudos.  Now let’s hope this will go a long way in getting more of their brothers and sisters from the Hollywood Hills to come join us for a “limited time only.”

3.  There are four nominees for best score.

We saw this one coming last week, when the Tony Admin Committee announced that both Enron and Fences would be eligible in the Best Score category.  It was a good move, IMHO, because Shubert Alley had been buzzing about the dearth of original scores this year.  I don’t think they need to seat those two scores too close to the podium on award night, but it’s nice to see the category rounded out. And the scores are unique, interesting, and definitely deserving of some love.

4.  Sherie Rene Scott owes Megan Mullally a drink.

Six weeks ago, SRS was looking at an uneventful spring.  Then, MM ups and walks from Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and now, SRS has two Tony nominations to keep her busy!  (Interesting side note:  Sherie Rene Scott replaced Megan Mullally in the Rosie O’Donnell Grease that I worked on back in ’94).  This surprise story isn’t over yet . . . because by my read, SRS has a good shot at taking home a trophy on Tony night.  And all this star-aligning-stuff couldn’t happen to a nicer gal.

5.  The British hit about an American company won’t be Best Play.

You know what the most difficult translation in the world is?  From English to American and American to English.  You’d think it’d be so much easier to predict what works in each of these markets based on the success in the other.  Alas, it ain’t that easy.  Unfortunately, Enron, a British play based on American subject matter, didn’t impress the nominators and failed get a Best Play nom.  Nine months ago, I would have bet big on this one not only getting a nomination but also taking home the top prize.  Just goes to show you, you never know what’s going to happen until that curtain goes up.

How did I do with my predictions?  I scored a 75% overall, missing one show in each of the three categories I predicted (which, coincidentally is exactly how I scored last year).

How did you do?

And stay tuned . . . The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool will be announced shortly.  We’ve just got to figure out what the prizes are going to be . . .

My predictions for the 2.5 big Tony Award nominations.

It seems like just yesterday we were debating who would get snubbed in the 2008-2009 Tony noms (remember when Rock of Ages slipped in instead of 9 to 5?) . . . And already, it’s time to predict this year’s snubs!

Conventional Broadway wisdom says that there are only 2.5 Tony Awards that have a meaningful impact at the Box Office:  Best Musical, Best Play . . . and the half goes to Best Revival of a Musical.

So, I’m going to give you my predictions on what I think will be nominated for those 2.5 categories (as opposed to what I think should be nominated).

Best Musical

IMHO, there are three locks for the Best Musical nom this year:

American Idiot
Fela!

And the only completely original musical of the season . . .

Memphis

It’s the fourth slot that there’s some fighting over, especially since this season saw the elimination of the Special Theatrical Event category, which lumps at least four other titles into the Best Musical category.

So who will take the slot?

The two front runners are The Addams Family and Come Fly Away, with Everyday Rapture the next-in-line long shot.  My guess is that the Tony Committee will honor Rapture by nominating it’s star for Best Actress and maybe even Best Book, but they’ll leave it out of this category, which puts us back with the two choices that started this paragraph.

If I were one of the nominators sitting The Edison Cafe making the decision, I’d go with Addams Family solely to reward the original score and the original book over the beautifully danced, but is-it-really-a-musical, Come Fly Away.  You’ve got to give some points to Family for degree of difficulty, don’t you?

But, knowing what I do about the nominators and the process by which they choose these nominees, my gut says that they will nominate Come Fly Away, and for the third year in a row, snub the big, commercial choice (First Legally Blonde, then 9 To 5, and now Addams Family).

Best Play

Expect the biggest hit, A Steady Rain, to get a steady snub in this category.

Red is a shoe-in for a nod.  As is Next Fall.  The next two spots could go a bunch of different ways.  You’ve got the Brit hit, Enron, Mamet’s f’ing Race, and Superior Donuts, the follow-up play by the man who penned the biggest dramatic epic that we’ve seen since Angels in America.  And what about The Chris Walken show aka Behanding in Spokane, the buzzed about Vibrator Play, or the timely Time Stands Still?

I’m going with Time for the third slot.  And the fourth?

Tricky again . . . I’d like to say that it will be Donuts . . . but taking into account that nominators tend to forget the Fall (as we found out last year), I’m going to go with Enron (partly because bigger really is sometimes better in the eyes of nominators and voters).

Best Revival of a Musical

Sondheim will get another bday present with a nom for Night Music.  La Cage will get the second slot, and Ragtime will get the thanks-for-trying third nom.

But what about the fourth?  Finian’s or Promises?  Great reviewed versus great box office?  Fall versus Spring?

Put my money on Promises.

– – – – –

Whew.  That was tough.  Thankfully, I’m only picking 2.5 of them.

The nominators are picking 26, and they’ll do it tomorrow.

On Tuesday, at 8:30 AM ET, the nominations will be announced live.  Watch on the web at TonyAwards.com.

But before then, tell me how you think I did with my choices in the comments below.

What do you think will get nominated?

Tony Nominations are Tomorrow. My picks for the big ones.

May Madness begins on Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM with the announcement of this year’s Tony nominations.

There are a few places to watch this year so tune in to either:
  • CBS’s The Early Show (which promises to show “some” of the categories).
  • NY1.  This is Roma Torre’s favorite time of year.
  • In the middle of Times Square on the JumboTron (someone please go and tweet a pic to me)
Below are my predictions (plus a few ‘type bytes’) on the nominations in the two big money categories (Best Musical and Best Play), enumerated in order of my confidence:
BEST MUSICAL
 
1.  Billy Elliot
Billy had us at hello.  Billy was a shoe-in for a nom (and a possible win) when it was first announced that the show was happening, and he won’t disappoint.
2.  Next To Normal
N2N is the Passing Strange of 2009 – the gutsy, artistic, “non-commercial” choice, that took a strange but courageous path to Broadway.  Nominators (and voters who like to look really smart) love these types of shows.
3.  9 to 5
Many shows like to open late in the season, in order to use the Tonys as free publicity at a time when they need the boost.  Unfortunately, if you’re not reviewed well, those reviews are fresh in the nominators minds when they head to the Edison cafe to pick the nominees.  That’s what happened to 9 to 5.  Nevertheless, Dolly’s charm beats Ben Brantley’s any day of the week, so expect a nom.
4.  Title of Show 
The fourth spot is the tough choice.  It’s the wild card.  You’ve got TOS, Rock of Ages, 13, Story of My Life, Tale of 2 Cities, and the big one . . . that twenty million dollar monster known as Shrek.

I think Shrek and Dreamworks will get Disney-fied (3 out of 6 Disney shows have not been nominated for Best Musical:  Aida, Tarzan and Little Mermaid).  And as much as I’m pulling for what I call a “Marisa Tomei” for 13 (Marisa shocked the world when she was nominated, and then won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny), I think the fourth spot is a cage match between the scrappy and you-tubey Title of Show and the jukeboxy, and surprisingly well-reviewed shock of the year . . . Rock of Ages.

When it comes down to it, the insidery nominators will choose a show about their own industry that tells the story of how hard it can be to put on a show, over a show that just wants you to rock . . . hard.
BEST PLAY
1.  God of Carnage
This year has made a lot of people sick to their stomach. God of Carnage is this season’s Pepto.  Comedy is back, and that makes Carnage a cinch to lead the category.
2.  Reasons to be Pretty
Neil Labute made his debut on Broadway and he’ll make his debut in this category as well.  The real question is whether this solid play can compete in this market and stay around until the ceremony?
3.  Dividing The Estate
 
This transfer from Primary Stages had an all too short 10 week run on Broadway.  A possible extension was in the works, but the theater was booked (with the even shorter run of Story of My Life).  Hartford Stage did its part to keep the play in the minds of the nominators.  There’s a strong emotional movement ‘a foot’ to give Mr. Foote the Tony Award that eluded him (he passed away in March of this year at 92, which was too short of a run as well, if you ask me), and that will help secure the 3rd spot.
4.  The American Plan
The fourth Play spot is a tricky one with two major contenders:  Plan and Irena’s Vow.  While the subject matter and pure emotion of Vow is much more gripping than Plan, expect the nominators to give this spot to Mr. Greenberg, whom they know and love, rather than the Hollywood outsider, Dan Gordon.  Personally, I’d like to give Gordon kudos for taking a break from Hollywood and giving the stage a shot (If only more writers would do that).  Tovah will get a nom to make up for it.
Do you agree?  Disagree?  Have your own picks for tomorrow’s nominations?  Comment away!
Read tomorrow’s blog (or watch one of the viewing options mentioned above) to see how I did.
And make sure you continue to read throughout this awards season.  Our annual ‘Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool’ is coming up (prizes, prizes, PRIZES), and of course, I’ll be tweeting from The Tonys as the awards are given out.
So stay Tw-uned.

What’s The Buzz from The Theater Bloggers’ Social?

Thanks to the 30 plus Theater Bloggers who showed up at Planet Hollywood yesterday for the first Theater Bloggers Social!

We had a great time, discussing everything from the upcoming awards season (can N2N or 9:5 threaten that giant-sized kid, Billy Elliot?) to the rise and fall of the newspaper (will Seth Godin’s prediction that “there will be no significant newspapers printed on newsprint in the US by 2012” come true?) and the difference between theatre with an RE and theater with an ER (“RE is the art, ER is the building,” was one concise answer).
Oh, and we ate a lot of Chicken Crunch.
For those of you who aren’t bloggers . . . become one and come to the next social.
Because I guarantee, something cool is gonna come from this group.

Stay tuned.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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