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?

The Shubert stimulus package.

Earlier this week, the theatrical royal family known as The Shuberts announced an unprecedented three year development deal with two commercial producers, Frederick Zollo and Robert Cole.  Zollo and Cole (has a nice ring, doesn’t it?) have been responsible for a bunch of shows between them including Angels in America, Chitty2 Bang2, and, this season, they teamed up like the Wonder Twins to produce a little event known as A Steady Rain.

The deal seems pretty simple.  Zollo and Cole get three years to develop projects and get dibs at Shubert theaters (one of the most challenging issues facing producers is how to develop a show without knowing if it will get a theater).  This first-look deal guarantees Z&C that their shows will have a home, and gives their artists the security that their work will be seen on a Shubert stage.  In addition, the Shuberts get first chance to invest, and they’ve given the guys some nice offices in the castle on 44th St.

What’s exciting about this deal is its similarity to the movie model.  The Shuberts have forged a relationship with producers that they trust, respect and that have done well for them; guaranteed them “distribution” (theater availability); and pledged financial support if the product is something they are interested in.  While the guys aren’t necessarily hired guns that are being paid to develop product, they have been given an incredible public demonstration of confidence and support from the largest landlord in the theatrical world.

Independent producers are so often out there on their own, flailing in the wind, trying to drum up interest for projects from artists, investors, etc,.and that is getting harder to do considering how risky of a proposition Broadway is.  When a producer can say that they have a contractual relationship with The Shuberts for developing new material that guarantees them a theater and possible investment, that goes a long way.

Look, Z&C are smart, successful, and powerful producers in their own right, so I’m sure they didn’t have problems getting their phone calls returned before this deal.  Still, I’d bet that they go up a few notches on everyone’s call list now.

This is a bold move, and a great one.  Let’s hope it’s successful for everyone, because if it is . . . they’ll be looking for more Producers to fill the offices in Shubert Castle.

My suggestion for the next deal?  Get someone from the Roth generation.

Gotta problem with star casting? Talk to Hugh Jackman.

I’m one of the lucky folk that got a couple of tickets to see A Steady Rain, and to be honest, that’s only because I’m a Tony Voter. If I weren’t a TV, I’m not sure I would have even tried to score seats to what is one of the most difficult tickets of the decade.

(I mean, each one of these guys could have sold out a play on their own. Sort of seems like a waste having them in the same play!)

At the end of this 90 minute Hunk-O-Mania, Hugh stopped the thunderous ovation to begin his BC/EFA fundraising speech.

He started it with this question . . .

“How many of you are here tonight seeing your very first Broadway show?”

At least 100 hands shot up.

Star casting has taken a lot of swipes over the years, and believe me, I’ve had my issue with a number of no-talents that have struggled their way through a Broadway play or musical.

But the right stars could be doing more to develop new audiences than we could ever do on our own.

What happened after Hugh’s question?  He and Daniel proceeded to live-auction-off signed t-shirts and backstage visits and photos, all to benefit BC/EFA.  They raised over $20k in about 10 minutes.

Thanks for joining us on Broadway, guys.  And thanks for your incredible generosity to the community.

Today’s audiences are lucky to have you . . . and so are tomorrow’s.

X