Tony Picks — Lead Actor and Actress in a Play or Musical

king-and-i_b_650OK, groovy theater geeks, we’ve finally reached our picks for the big awards. The Tony Awards are now just six days away and Ross and I are wrapping up our picks for who should take home the big prizes. Today we tackle lead actor and actress in a play and in a musical.

The drama of the night almost certainly will come in the Lead Actress in a Musical category, where six-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara faces stiff competition against comedic genius Kristin Chenoweth, Tony newcomer Beth Malone, and legendary stage diva Chita Rivera. As always, lets us know what you think.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

The Nominees:
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Ross’s Pick: Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Loren’s Pick: Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Ross Says: “For a broadway debut, Alex Sharp couldn’t have asked for a better role to begin his career with. I saw this production in London, and thought the guy in the lead there was spectacular, and I was a bit concerned that the American lead would not live up to my high hopes. But I have to say that Alex went above and beyond, creating an even more compelling and engaging performance in a thoroughly engrossing play, and he should have no trouble taking home the statue on Tony night.”

Loren Says: “I’m absolutely going to agree with Ross on this one. Alex Sharp came like a thief in the night (fresh out of Julliard) to land the role of the lifetime as a teenager on the autism spectrum struggling to make sense of his parents’ separation and the mysterious death of his neighbor’s dog. Sharp is brilliant. His portrayal is engrossing and deeply affecting (I cried multiple times, and wept in the end). He absolutely deserves ever bit of success coming to him.”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

The Nominees:
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town

Ross’s Pick: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Loren’s Pick: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Ross Says: “I will say, straight out, that I don’t think Michael Cerveris will win, and I will even say that maybe he shouldn’t. Robert Fairchild was spectacular in all aspects of a leading man in a Broadway musical. Ken Watanabe was not. But that’s a whole other story. But Michael Cerveris broke my heart in Fun Home. Almost every time i’ve seen Michael Cerveris from doing Hedwig to Sweeney Todd and more, he pulls me in with his beautifully nuanced voice and acting. He gets my vote.”

Loren Says: “Again, Ross and I agree here. But unlike Ross, I think Cerveris absolutely will win. Yes, Robert Fairchild puts on a fabulous show, and is a triple threat by every definition. Still, Cerveris’ performance is once in a lifetime. I don’t think there’s an actor in this list of nominees with such command of his voice and the with the ability to make you forget you’re watching a performance. Several times as I watched Cerveris, I felt like a real fly on the wall in this family’s home. This was not theater. It was an experience.”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

The Nominees:
Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Ross’s Pick: Ruth Wilson, Constellations
Loren’s Pick: Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles

Ross Says: “Once again, I think I’m picking the one that won’t win (see Helen Mirren), but I was blown away by Constellations. Had no idea what I was walking into, and Ruth’s performance totally floored me. The structure of the play for me was mind blowing. It made me think about how all the moment to moment ways we interact in this world with each other are so important and life altering. The subtle changes and positioning that she (and Jake) brought to this unique and challenging play made a huge fan out of me for both actors. I hadn’t seen her before, but I left that theatre amazed and moved.”

Loren Says: “Yes, Helen Mirren is likely to walk away with this award, but my pick is Elisabeth Moss for her deeply moving performance as reluctant feminist Heidi Holland. Whether I liked Heidi Chronicles as a story is a whole other matter, though. Opposite Bryce Pinkham as her gay best friend, Moss conjures up a whole range of emotions—youthful ambivalence, defiance, and middle-age skepticism. The highpoint is Moss’ impassioned (borderline emotional breakdown) monologue in front a group of alum from a women’s college. Moss digs deep as she exposes her vulnerabilities. She cries. And we cry too.”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

The Nominees:
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit

Ross’s Pick: Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Loren’s Pick: Kelli O’Hara, The King and I

Ross Says: “This is Kelli’s to lose. She has been turning in thoroughly amazing performances time and time again on Broadway and off (Bridges, Far From Heaven, South Pacific, Light in the Piazza), and this role seems to have been written for her, even though I’m guessing she was not not even a twinkle in her dad’s eyes when it was written in 1951. But when I was watching this lovely show, it felt tailor made for her, and she was spectacular, warm, lovely, endearing and beautifully voiced. Now, could it not be said that the roles played by Beth, Kristin, and Chita are as pitch perfect as Kelli’s? Well, yes, so if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet any money on this race.”

Loren Says: “Spot on, Ross. Kelli O’Hara is absolutely my pick for this award for her breathtaking and accomplished performance in The King and I. From the moment she steps out on the bow of the ship to “Whistle a Happy Tune,” you know you’re in the presence of something special. But sadly, for O’Hara, she’s five times been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. With this her sixth nomination for a Tony, the question is whether there’s another leading lady in the bunch who could very well steal the prize. The answer is yes. Any one of these women would be deserving in my eyes, especially Kristin Chenoweth or Beth Malone, both fabulous in their respective shows. I will be crossing fingers and toes for O’Hara. Here’s to her finally winning her Tony and staving off comparisons to Susan Lucci. We love you, we really really love you.”

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