Countdown to Tony Night

We’re exactly one week out from the Tony Awards! Let’s talk about some of the nominations. I can’t speak to every nominated show or actor – While I have made it through all of the musicals, I still have a handful of plays left on my list that will have to wait until after the awards show.

One caveat before we get started…I obviously have no actual business judging these shows or performances. So this isn’t so much about who should win based on true merit, this is about what I enjoyed most as a fan and theater-goer.

First up, the nominees for Best Musical are:

  • Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
  • Beetlejuice
  • Hadestown
  • The Prom
  • Tootsie

My Pick: This one is so unbelievably hard for me, I loved every single one of these shows in its own way. I think my favorite overall has to be The Prom. Not only was it fun and upbeat, its message of love wins and inclusiveness was heartwarming. This was also the musical I had the least knowledge of before attending, so it was an extraordinarily pleasant surprise. I know that Hadestown led the entire pack with 14 total Tony nominations this year, and it very well may take this one home – And while it was absolutely incredible, I didn’t leave the theater on a happy, high note like I did after The Prom.

Next, the nominees for Best Leading Actor in a Musical are:

  • Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
  • Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud
  • Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
  • Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
  • Santino Fontana, Tootsie

And the nominees for Best Leading Actress in a Musical are:

  • Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
  • Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
  • Beth Leavel, The Prom
  • Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
  • Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

My Picks: Again, this is near impossible for me. All of these actors brought it and left it all on the stage (side note: how do they perform so many times a week, sometimes twice a day??). Even though Beetlejuice probably wouldn’t have made my radar if it weren’t for its nomination for Best Musical, I have to go with Alex Brightman for Best Leading Actor. His performance was incredible and made me fall in love with a hilarious, with just the right amount of creepy, ghost. I really thought I’d be rooting for Santino Fontana on this one, I was already a fan and then loved his performance in Tootsie too. I wouldn’t be upset if either of these two leaves with the award. For Best Leading Actress, Stephanie J. Block gets my vote. Her performance as Cher was remarkable, and just made me smile. And from what I heard, also made Cher herself smile (that’s right, she was in the crowd the night I saw this show). She was also my personal favorite of the three Chers in the show. I’d also be thrilled if Caitlin Kinnunen or Eva Noblezada won, both of these ladies completely killed their performances.

Finally, I really hope Jeremy Pope goes home with at least one of the two awards he’s up for – Best Leading Actor in a Play for Choir Boy and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations. Choir Boy is the show where I ended up with a front-row seat and got up-close-and-personal with his shoes (not to mention, I could actually see the whites of his eyes), so I feel like we have a special connection. The fact that he then moved on to perform in Ain’t Too Proud allowing me to watch him perform again, only solidified my connection theory. He’s facing off with some of my other favorites in the Best Leading Actor in a Play category, so it’s going to be tough. Bryan Cranston in Network, Jeff Daniels in To Kill a Mockingbird and Adam Driver in Burn This all gave performances I won’t forget.

Before I get to see what happens at the Tony Awards, I’m going to the Drama Desk Awards tonight. Many of the same actors and shows are up for awards tonight as well. We’ll see if this is sort of a Golden Globe/Oscar situation, where we’ll gain some valuable insight into who’s going home with a Tony next weekend.

Let’s be real, no matter who wins tonight or next weekend, it’s going to be spectacular. And the biggest winner of all will be me for being able to be there in the presence of all this greatness!

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