Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Tony Awards Preview: Best Revival of a Play

Here is a look at the upcoming race for Best Revival of a Play

1. A Raisin in the Sun - Two of the greatest American stage productions got remakes this year, both to fantastic results (according to critics and audiences). The first is Raisin in the Sun, brought again to the stage by Tony Winner Scott Rudin, and featuring a knock-out cast including Tony winners Denzel Washington and Anika Noni Rose, Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo making her Broadway debut, and directed by Tony nominee Kenny Leon (he was nominated for Fences which won Denzel his Tony alongside Viola Davis). The reviews have been fantastic, and Washington could well be on his way to another Tony. But the reviews suggest that it is not just Washington, but the production as a whole that really pops. Expect it to be a big contender come Tony night.

2. The Glass Menagerie - The other great American stage production getting a revival this year is The Glass Menagerie. It stars Tony winner Cherry Jones, Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Zachary Quinto making his Broadway debut. It too has been showered with rave reviews, and ran for several months in the fall to decent receipts. Its all-star cast, along with its director, Tony winner John Tiffany should ensure a lot of buzz, and despite the onslaught of new plays right here towards the Tony cut-off point haven't seemed to kill its buzz, or its support from critics and pundits. It will probably end up being this versus A Raisin in the Sun for the big prize.

3. Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land - So two slots seem locked and loaded, but what about the other two. One which is getting a lot of positive buzz is the revival of Waiting for Godot starring Tony winners Billy Crudup, Shuler Hensley, Ian McKellen, and Tony-nominee Patrick Stewart (a reunification of Magneto and Professor X). This is a tricky situation though because it played in repertory with another work No Man's Land. This year I believe that the Tony Awards will allow both to compete. I'm not entirely sure whether they will go for one or the both, or neither, or both, but of the two it looks like Waiting for Godot has more buzz behind it. It will be interesting to see how the Tony nominators deal with this one in terms of this category, and more interestingly, in terms of where the performances fall.

4. Twelfth Night/Richard III- Two of Shakespeare's productions (actually a third Romeo and Juliet, but I don't think that one will play well) got face lifts to decent results. Once again they played in repertory, both all-male revival of the classics starring Tony winner Mary Rylance, and Tony nominees Stephen Fry and Samuel Barnett. I'm not sure what the fascination is this year with repertory productions, but once again, it will be interesting to see how this well-reviewed production plays out in terms of nominations. Of the two, Twelfth Night looks to be the stronger of the two, but we'll have to wait and see.

5. The Cripple of the Inishmaan - The committee has still not determined where this one will be placed. Until then, it looks like this will be its spot. This time around the production has received rave reviews, and stars Daniel Radcliffe, who took Broadway by storm in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying a couple of years ago. It only recently premiered, so it doesn't have quite the early buzz of earlier productions, but I think that it could easily overtake some contenders and sneak into one of those last two slots.

6. Of Mice and Men - James Franco has recently taken to Instagram to rant about a particularly bad review of his new role in the revival of Of Mice and Men opposite Chris O'Dowd. It was a petty rant from a star who once garnered by respect (but in recent years had made me question my decision). That being said, the review have been decent overall, but more mixed than outright raves. And yes, Franco has been pushed aside in most of them for his co-star O'Dowd, who is apparently fantastic. But it is a storied production, has a lot of buzz, and unless Tony voters are annoyed with Franco, it could find its way into this category.

7. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill - Can we just all be honest about something real quick? Audra McDonald is just freaking awesome, and on stage, she can seemingly do no wrong. They could still move this into Revival of A Musical, as it is kind of like Ray and Walk the Line on screen, it straddles the line between play and musical, but either way, expect McDonald to earn another Tony nomination, and maybe even another win to add to her crowded mantle. At this point, all of the reviews seem to focus on McDonald, so I'm not sure if the play as a whole will be as respected, or whether it will be solely about its cherished star.

8. Betrayal - This is a star-studded revival featuring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, a real-life married couple, and put on the stage by theater legend (and EGOT winner) Mike Nichols is sure to be in play, simply on the name recognition alone. It doesn't hurt that it is backed by good reviews (some are not as nice, but almost all agree that Craig and Weisz are great), and a lot of buzz. Still, it feels like this one isn't on the top of many people's lists, and it missed the cut at this morning's Drama League nominations. It will be interesting to see if big stars can pull as much weight as better mounted productions next week at the nominations announcement.

9. The Winslow Boy - A short six-week run or so for the revival of The Winslow Boy put it in the running, but it will need a passionate support system to be remembered because it aired so long ago, and is up against the shiny new toys ahead of it. Still, it features a plethora of stage veterans with plenty of Tony nominations (and a win or two) among them, that the theater community will certainly give this one another look.

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