”Hairspray” wins it all? EW.com predicts the Tonys
Welcome to the Wolverine White Way? How else to explain the excitement about Aussie hunk-turned-Hollywood-star Hugh Jackman (”X2”) serving as the master of ceremonies for the June 8 telecast of the 2003 Tony Awards (8-11 p.m., CBS). Of course, there are also some thrilling nominees: ”Hairspray,” which wowed audiences, with a lucky 13 nods. And Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp with a nice round 10 for their lively dance musical, ”Movin’ Out.”
Still, five nominations for ”Amour,” Michel Legrand’s French confection that had about as much appeal as a week-old éclair? And two for ”Urban Cowboy,” the most universally reviled show of the season? Then there’s Baz Luhrmann’s ”La Bohème” (pictured above), which earned six nods while confounding the Tony powers-that-be with its rotating casts and its operatic identity. For Broadway, it’s been an uneven year, to say the least.
But enough about the past. Read on for our peek into the future, as we predict the plays and stars who’ll soon be taking home a Tony.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Who’ll win a Tony for best actor in a play?
Newman was wonderful as the small-town Stage Manager in ”Our Town,” but this nomination was probably more of a thank-you gift for the actor. As in, Thanks for supporting Broadway and please come back, will you? This is Bedford’s sixth nomination — he hasn’t won since 1971’s ”School for Wives” — but the long-closed ”Tartuffe” was too much of a trifle. Tucci brought bluster and charm to ”Frankie and Johnny,” though perhaps too much bluster and not enough charm. As the patriarch of the troubled Tyrone family in ”Long Day’s Journey,” Dennehy is amazingly low-key — which is probably why he won’t win. All this puts British transvestite comic Izzard (pictured above) in an enviable position. He’s already racked up a few awards for his gutsy performance in ”Joe Egg” (he plays the father of a severely autistic child); this could be a definite turning point for the former street performer.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Who’ll win a Tony for best actress in a play?
The only actress here to have a prior Tony nomination, Atkinson (”The Rainmaker”) is an absolute delight as a repressed Englishwoman searching for excitement and wisteria in ”April.” Still, the play’s lack of heft works against her. Hamilton, who matches Izzard punch for punch in ”Joe Egg,” will get some votes, as will Higgins, wrenching as a manic depressive in ”Vincent.” And though it closed months ago, Shaw was so positively frightening in the title role of Medea that no theatergoer is likely to forget her anytime soon. Still, Redgrave (pictured above) absolutely owns ”Long Day’s Journey.” As the morphine-dependent matriarch, every twitch, restless move, and eye dart is mastery. And with its late April debut, it’s a performance that’s still fresh in voters’ minds, which never hurts.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Who’ll win a Tony for best actor in a musical?
What do you know — a category that’s actually pretty tough to call! First, apologies to Gets, Mitchell, and Selya: Gets is a terrific musical actor, but most of us have wiped ”Amour” from our memories; likewise, everyone loves ”Stokes,” but hardly anyone loves ”Man of La Mancha”; and Selya proves a strong leading dancer in ”Movin’ Out,” but that’s not enough this year. It’s down to Banderas and Fierstein (pictured above). ”Nine” — based on the Federico Fellini film ”8 1/2” — is intricate and gorgeous, but it’s not warm or particularly lovable. Still, Banderas is — and he sings like a dream. Meanwhile, Fierstein endured a full-body wax to take on Edna Turnblad. (That deserves a separate award.) He’s the heart of ”Hairspray,” and a beloved Broadway figure. And even though Banderas would probably deliver a wonderful Roberto Benigni-like speech, it’ll likely be Fierstein at the podium, accepting his fourth Tony.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Who’ll win a Tony for best actress in a musical?
Again, the ”Amour,” ”La Mancha,” and ”Movin’ Out” stars get the shaft: Errico was lovely; Mastrantonio was a strong Aldonza; and Parkinson, she of the Nicole Kidman-like looks, is a jaw-dropping dancer. But this race — probably the toughest to call — is all about Peters and Winokur (pictured above). There’s no Broadway leading lady more cherished than Peters. This is her seventh nomination — she’s won for ”Song & Dance” and ”Annie Get Your Gun” — and she’s got a Tony-winning role if ever there was one (Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly previously took home trophies for playing Mama Rose). Yet Winokur is this season’s It Girl. Just as ”Hairspray”’s Tracy Turnblad takes Baltimore by storm, so does Winokur. She’s bubbly, she’s beautiful, and this is a role that was made for her.
Who’ll win a Tony for best play?
Though the Van Gogh drama ”Vincent” had an ardent following, the British import wasn’t quite as intriguing as its subject. The George Burns bioplay screams ”category filler”; the nod was probably a tip of the hat to fine dramatist Rupert Holmes (”The Mystery of Edwin Drood”). And ”April” provided a breath of spring air, but the sweet little comedy was better served on screen. Which leaves us with ”Take Me Out,” the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk winner. Maybe it’s that New York City is such a baseball-crazed town; maybe it’s that the cast is young and handsome (Daniel Sunjata, pictured above, is like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez combined!); maybe it’s that no one’s ever thought to tell the tale of a gay baseball player. But whatever it is, ”Take Me Out” should earn playwright Richard Greenberg more than a few cheering fans of his own.
Winner: ”Take Me Out”
Who’ll win a Tony for best musical?
Count out ”Amour” and ”Frog and Toad” right off the bat, although ”Frog and Toad” is a perfectly charming children’s musical. (Children’s musical. Enough said.) I’ve heard about the ”Hairspray” backlash — it’s too big, too brassy, too happy, too much of a hit. And then there’s the ”Movin’ Out” backlash — modern dance plus Billy Joel songs does not make a musical. But the bottom line is this: ”Hairspray” is a great, fun show (Winokur and Fierstein, pictured above). It’s the only traditional, old-fashioned Broadway musical in this category. And it will do amazingly well on tour, which the Tony voters — many of whom are producers and theater owners from across the country — count on. Plus, maybe they’ll let John Waters give the acceptance speech, and that would be a hoot!