Part 2: Frontmezzjunkies weighs in on the Tony Race – Actors/Actresses/Musical
In Part Two of my five part category split-up, I’m going to talk about the performances of all these talented actors in a Musical this season. It won’t be a full Hamilton sweep, but they will gather up at least two awards here. And I’m hoping that will be all. The men in Hamilton will triumph and I’m hoping the Tonys for the women will be from other shows (Color Purple and She Loves Me) but I may be wrong with the last one. Time will tell.
Here are my thoughts on these categories: Who I think will win (👉) and who I loved (❤️). Sometimes there are more then just one love, but I tried to narrow it down to the one I would probably vote for if I was able.
Links to my blog reviews will appear in Red here and there throughout this by the blog review title. Please click on them and check out what I had to say at the time.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman, School of Rock—The Musical
❤️Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
👉Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton
I’m thinking, and maybe quite incorrectly, that voters will have had their full share of voting for Miranda by the time they get to this category, and will look for another option. I’m guessing Odom will take this award, and rightly so, as his part is more complex and is someway more of the lead of Hamilton. I also think Miranda is super talented but this nomination for Actor is where he is his least proficient. Odom on the other hand is magnificent, and will hopefully get the award.
I also thought both Brightman for School of Rock (https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2015/12/12/i-surrender-to-the-school-of-rock/) and Burstein for Fiddler did spectacular work, and both deserve my love. Brightman thoroughly rocked that part and erased all memory of Jack Black from the movie, while also somehow playing homage to him. But it was Burstein’s portrayal in Fiddler that truly touched my heart, even with the silliness and overly theatricality of that red jacket. It was not a perfect production but a great performance.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
❤️❤️Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
❤️Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
👉❤️Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
❤️Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton
I will begin by saying that four out of the five of these women I just plain adore. Benanti is sublime. Cusack is a revelation and a brighter star then I could have imagined. Erivo raises the roof of The Color Purple like no other. And Mueller is as delicious as the pies being made. I’d be thrilled with any of these four talented ladies taking the prize. That being said, I have nothing against Soo in Hamilton, and thought she was wonderful, but the females in this show got a slightly shorter stick then the males, and in many ways, this part is not nearly as large as the others. I thought that it might even be considered a Featured Actress, so seeing it here is great for her, but in magnitude, the part just doesn’t register at the same level.
I believe that Erivo will win the award for the pure power of that voice. She blew the roof off that theatre, not just once, but at least twice, with those impressive power ballads that brought us to our feet. The others just weren’t given those huge moments, some not even once, and for that gift to us, Erivo will get her Tony.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
❤️Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
❤️Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
❤️Christopher Jackson, Hamilton
From the buzz I hear, Diggs is going to take this award home, but sadly, I can’t say anything about his performance. The night I saw Hamilton, Diggs was out, and I saw his understudy, who was phenomenal. I do think I missed out on a most memorable performance, and sadly, I don’t think I can do anything about that. By the time I could find myself another ticket, Diggs will most likely be long gone.
But I did see Groff and Jackson, and I loved them both. Who do I prefer? My all time favorite former Spring Awakening original, Groff stole the show every time he stepped on stage, but it was, with no disrespect, a smaller part with much less of an emotional arc then Washington, where as Jackson was magnificent from start to finish. I doubt either will win, but they are both deserving.
And one must not forget Fitzgerald, who singularly stole the show in Waitress with his funny and sweet stalker-like number, ‘Never Ever Getting Rid of Me’. A difficult balance to pull off, and he did it with pizzaz, humor, and charm to spare. Bravo to him, but I think he’s going to have to accept a nomination only as his reward.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
👉Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
❤️Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
I’m really hoping that Krakowski will walk away with this award for She Loves Me. It’s a full-on spectacular role that lets her showcase all of her charms and talent. Funny, sexy, long legged, wonderfully voiced with a split that will knock you over. https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2016/03/17/loving-she-loves-me-part-ii/
Brooks is also a knockout, giving us humor, sass, and big voiced guts to rival her costars, and I was thoroughly surprised and wow’s. Same with Warren in Shuffle Along, giving us two widely different characters and shining in both.
That being said, Goldsberry will most likely take this award for her work in Hamilton. I must admit that I’m not sure why she is favored by most critics. I loved her in the part, but was not blown away in the same manner as the others. (I didn’t see Disaster!) If I had to bet money on this race, I’d bet on Goldsberry and Hamilton here, without a smile.