A Hamptons Twist on the Tony Awards

Neil Patrick Harris will no doubt turn in his share of show-stoppers as host of the 2011 Annual Tony Awards, but it’s a Hamptons connection that could really have us on our feet. Producer Daryl Roth—whose Broadway production of The Normal Heart has received five Tony nominations and is poised to take the prize for Best Revival of a Play this Sunday night in New York City—is an integral player in the New York theatre community and spends her summers in East Hampton. A win for her would also be sweet for playwright Larry Kramer, who once lived in East Hampton, and Jayne Baron Sherman, a Normal Heart producer who maintains a home here as well.

The big winner will ultimately be the new musical The Book of Mormon, but The Normal Heart, War Horse and The Scottsboro Boys are favorites from the past season, in addition to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which was pretty much shut out with only two nominations. Here are our predictions in most of the major categories.

Best Play

War Horse—Lincoln Center’s magical production of Nick Stafford’s play stands far above the rest, a spellbinding testament to the power of theatre. War Horse is the theatrical event of the season.

Best Musical

The Book Of MormonSouth Park writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone have concocted a very silly and obscene musical satire with Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez. The result is an insanely popular tale that has been embraced by many in the community and will take many awards. The Scottsboro Boys should win, a movingly rendered musical with heart and soul and a vastly superior score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, but The Book of Mormon is a tidal wave. [expand]

Best Revival of a Play

The Normal HeartLarry Kramer’s autobiographical masterpiece about the early days of the AIDS epidemic is in a league of its own, memorably acted and directed by a team of consummate professionals at the top of their game. If this doesn’t win, shame on the Tony voters.

Best Revival of a Musical

Anything Goes—The sparkling revival will carry the day for Sutton Foster as well.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Film star Frances McDormand, Good People, who just nabbed the Drama Desk Award, should and will win over Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday, probably her closest competitor.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

One of the closest categories, but our choice would be the the Hamptons’ own Joe Mantello, whose searing work is the center of The Normal Heart. Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, gives an emotionally potent performance as well.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Sutton Foster should win easily over a scraggily field for her sultry turn in Anything Goes. She’s a triple threat—singing, dancing and acting at the center of the Roundabout’s marvelous revival.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

We would love to see Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, win for his salty old queen played to understated perfection, but we suspect the inspired work Norbert Leo Butz turned in for Catch Me If You Can will carry him to his second Tony win in this category.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

This one is a toss-up between Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart and Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat. Rodriguez has the more challenging role, which could win her the award.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart, which we predicted in our review in Dan’s Papers a few weeks ago. His transformation is harrowing.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

We adored Laura Benanti in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. She was a hysterical delight and deserves to win following her Drama Desk victory, but the tidal wave of The Book of Mormon could carry Nikki M. James to the winner’s circle.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

John Larroquette, making his Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, is the front-runner to take home the Tony.

Best Original Score

The Book of Mormon—Music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, over the more deserving Kander and Ebb for The Scottsboro Boys.

Best Book of a Musical
The Book of Mormon—Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.

Best Direction of a Play

Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart, for their detailed and heart-moving helming of the stunning revival.

Best Direction of a Musical
Casey Nicholaw
and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon.

Theater critics Barry Gordin & Patrick Christiano are voting members of the Drama Desk. [/expand]

The Tony Awards air Sunday, June 12, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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