Inside the 2014 Tony Nominees: Best Play Revival
As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, EW is taking a closer look at this season’s nominated selection of new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor. Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Revival of a Play.
The Cripple of Inishmaan
Opened: April 12, 2014
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Sarah Greene, Ingrid Craigie, Pádraic Delaney, Gillian Hanna, Gary Lilburn, Conor ManNeill, and Pat Shortt.
Written by: Martin McDonagh
Directed by: Michael Grandage
Synopsis: The dark Irish comedy set in the remote island of Inishmaan tells the story of young Cripple Billy (Radcliffe), who dreams of stardom when a Hollywood film starts filming on the nearby island of Inishmore.
EW review: “Thanks to McDonagh’s clever writing and the sharply drawn performances by Radcliffe & Co., these seeming stereotypes keep upending our expectations — and their own — as they spin their yarns and shade some closely held truths. This is one of McDonagh’s lighter works, without his usual burst of Tarantino-esque violence, but there’s enough edginess to pull the story back from the cliff’s edge of sentimentality.” A (Thom Geier)
Nominations: 6 – Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sarah Greene), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Christopher Oram), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paul Constable), Best Sound Design of a Play (Alex Baranowski) and Best Direction of a Play (Michael Grandage).
Fun fact: Like Hedwig and Violet on the musical side, this is billed as a revival even though it’s the first production to hit Broadway. The play debut in London in 1996 and has had two separate productions Off Broadway in 1998 and 2008.
Odds of winning: It has a wee wisp of a chance.
NEXT PAGE: The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie
Opened: Sept. 26, 2013
Closed: Feb. 23, 2014
Starring: Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Brian J. Smith
Written by: Tennessee Williams
Directed by: John Tiffany
Synopsis: The story of the Wingfield family of St. Louis, led by matriarch Amanda (Jones), a southern belle past her prime, whose fantasies of a better life for her shy and crippled daughter Laura (Keenan-Bolger) force her restless son Tom (Quinto) to find a ‘gentleman caller’ for her.
EW review: “The setting is both real and unreal, as are the performances by a uniformly excellent cast, with subtle choreography (by Steven Hoggett) that recalls the unshowy movement in Tiffany’s musical hit Once. Cherry Jones is masterful as Amanda, the faded Southern belle who yearns for her children to have the opportunities that she herself squandered. There is a real poignancy in her portrayal, which avoids the extremes that have felled some other Amandas: She noodges without being smothering, and romanticizes the past without seeming delusional.” A (Thom Geier)
Nominations: 7 – Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Cherry Jones), Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Brian J. Smith), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Celia Keenan-Bolger), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Bob Crowley), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Natasha Katz) and Best Direction of a Play (John Tiffany).
Fun fact: Although this is the seventh production of the Williams’ classic to play Broadway, it’s the first to receive a single Tony nomination. Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris, and Jessica Lange have all played Amanda on the Great White Way, but neither them or their productions were recognized in any capacity. That said, the original production, starring Laurette Taylor, opened in 1945 — two years before the Tonys began.
Celia Keenan-Bolger on her meta stage family: “That play is so loved by so many people and going into it I was a little intimidated cause it’s this great American play. But very quickly we all just found ourselves, mostly because of John Tiffany’s extraordinary vision. It was a process that felt like we were doing a new play. Getting to go to work everyday with Zach and Cherry and Brian and then doing the play with them, it was just – I’ve never done a play with four people or just go to work with the same exact four people everyday, and we became so close, we were a little family. It feels like we get to relive it again.”
Odds of winning: This has a better than decent shot at claiming the prize — if voters aren’t wooed by shows that played more recently.
NEXT PAGE: A Raisin in the Sun
A Raisin in the Sun
Opened: April 3, 2014
Starring: Denzel Washinton, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo, and Anika Noni Rose.
Written by: Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by: Kenny Leon
Synopsis: After her deceased husband’s money comes through, matriarch Lena (Richardson Jackson) dreams of moving to a better neighborhood in Chicago while her son Walter (Washington) see it as one last opportunity for him to make something of himself. Racial tensions and prejudice in the 1950s highlight the drama in this American classic.
EW review: “Denzel Washington is a powerful presence as restless working-class family man Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play about soul-testing obstacles to one African-American family’s aspirations in South Side Chicago. The minute he walks on stage, the Oscar winner receives a roar of audience delight, and his tightly coiled physicality is a pleasure to watch, with one caveat: Washington’s characteristic aura of forceful energy, as well as the 59-year-old actor’s middle-aged maturity, throws off the emotional balance of this smooth new production, directed by Kenny Leon a decade after he staged a previous Broadway revival of the show” B+ (Lisa Schwarzbaum)
Nominations: 5 – Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose) and Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon).
Fun fact: Many were skeptical that Denzel Washington, 59, could a character written almost 25 years younger (Walter is pretty much the age that Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs was when he played the role in the Broadway revival in 2004, also directed by Kenny Leon). Then, Diahann Caroll left the production in the middle of rehearsals, citing the demands of Broadway were too difficult at her age. LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wife of Samuel L. Jackson and Carroll’s understudy, took over the role permanently just one month before previews began.
Odds of winning: It has an outside shot.
Anika Noni Rose on her character’s inspiration: “I love this character. I mean, she is Lorraine Hansberry’s expression of herself, so I read her autobiography and took a lot of that in. But one about Ms. Hansberry is her writing is so clear and clean that she gives you just about everything you need to do what you’re going to do so it’s up to you to get it in your body and put the spirit together with it and I’m just really having a good time with it.”
NEXT PAGE: Twelfth Night
Opened: Nov. 10, 2013
Closed: Feb. 16, 2014
Starring: Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, Samuel Barnett, Liam Brennan, and Paul Chahidi
Written by: William Shakespeare
Directed by: Tim Carroll
Synopsis: Shakespeare classic comedic tale centers on twins Viola (Samuel Barnett) and Sebastian (Joseph Timms), separated by shipwreck, only to be reunited by hilarious circumstance. Duke Orsino (Liam Brennan) pines after the beautiful Olivia (Rylance), who falls in love with Cesario, who is really just Viola dressed as a man.
EW review: “For all the attention to period detail, Carroll’s Twelfth Night… still feel[s] fresh, and the Bard just as vital as he did four centuries ago. There is no need for modern glosses or strained attempts at relevance — though it never hurts to play on audience sympathies (and baser instincts). As Elizabeth tells Richard: ”An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Plainly speaking, this Twelfth Night is a triumph.” A– (Thom Geier)
Nominations: 7 – Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Samuel Barnett), Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Paul Chahidi, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance), Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani) and Best Direction of a Play (Tim Carroll).
Fun fact: The all-male production ran in repertory with Richard III and although that production only received a single nomination, it did make history. With Rylance’s lead actor nomination for Richard III and featured nomination for Twelfth Night, he is the first man to be nominated for two performances in the same year. Actresses Amanda Plummer, Dana Ivey, Kate Burton, and Jan Maxwell have all previously been nominated twice in the same year.
Odds of winning: This period-perfect production is the front-runner, by a slender Elizabethan thread.
A Raisin in the Sun