Part 4: Frontmezzjunkies weighs in on the Tony Race – Actors/Actresses/Play
Part four of this Tony Award prediction blog will look at the actors and actresses that are doing great work in plays this season on Broadway. I just saw Long Day’s Journey into Night on June 4th, and couldn’t wait to see it (my blog review is being worked on). I’m thankful for the fact they cancelled the show on the 12th, which was the date when we were planning on going. But once it became the date for the Tonys, it seemed like either we would see a performance of understudies or Roundabout would cancel. And cancel, they did. Thankfully. So here we are, a week from the Tony Awards, and I’m excited by what I saw this year. So thankful I am able.
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 blog. Click on them and check out what I had to say. And as always, read, like, share, retweet, enjoy.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
👉Frank Langella, The Father
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
❤️Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
All of these performances were rock solid. It’s hard to decide who was stronger or more deserving. I’m going to give my love to Strong in Ivo’s The View. It was a powerful and heart breaking performance that delved down deep inside anguish, desire, and compulsion. His denial and confusion of his own actions were palpable. He could be a surprise winner. Daniels is also just as impressive in Blackbird, but I’m guessing the whole experience of that play is too uncomfortable for one to hold on to.
Langella will most likely win though, and he is as deserving as any. His role as a man and father sliding into the black hole of Alzheimer’s is heart wrenching, and he grabs us by the hand and takes us along for the journey. Majestically. I would have liked to see Ben Whishaw from The Crucible on this list, but I couldn’t tell you who should be dropped off, so I guess I’m good. Pigott-Smith from King Charles is pure perfection but for whatever reason, this play is not getting the excitement and attention it deserves at this time of the year. It may have opened too soon or just been to smart for its own good, but this Olivier award winning play will not muster the same glory here on Broadway.
Bryne is giving us one complicated and detailed portrayal in Long Day’s; one part grand and over the top, and another part weak and sad. He doesn’t waste one moment in this haunting performance, but I think he’s overshadowed by one lesser performance on one side, and two grand ones on his other, making it difficult to see him clearly through the fog.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird
Metcalf is the surprise inclusion in this category for me. She was working her ass off on that stage trying to bring that dud of a play, Misery, to life so I guess she got this nod for guts, sweat, and determination. But she’s not really of any other consequence for this award. No offense, I think she is generally amazing (i.e.: The Other Place) but here is her least noteworthy affair. On a side note, I so wish I had seen her in London doing Long Day’s Journey into Night. I hear it was magnificent, although I think I can shelf seeing that play again for a long long time.
Jessica Lange, on the other hand, is in that same classic play surrounded by stars, giving us the stage performance of her career. I saw her years ago in Streetcar Named Desire (PS: check out Anderson’s portrayal of Blanche DuBois at St. Ann’s Warehouse if you can find a ticket: spectacular https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2016/05/23/a-riveting-revolving-streetcar-in-brooklyn-has-arrived/ ), and Lange had yet to find her stage voice and footing, but that is all a thing of the past. Her performance was smart and beautiful, as it was steady. Mary’s slow decline into morphine relapse is intense and complicated, as is the play, but I will admit I was checked out by the time she got to her final monologue, and felt it underwhelming. I’m not sure anyone could have grabbed me by then, I had become as numb to the last act of the play, as Mary was.
Nyong’o, Okonedo, and Williams also are giving us gold this season. Each and everyone of them grabbing us firmly by our heart. I especially loved Williams in Blackbird, edgy and nervous, faltering her way as both an adult and damaged child, desperate to know what happened, and needing resolution. It’s an intense performance, one that I can’t imagine doing nightly. But I have a feeling these three will have to sit out the winner circle this year because of the surprise star turn from Lange.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III
❤️Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Birney I think has this in the bag for his riveting performance in The Humans. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful performance and feels like a lead in an ensemble (just like Houdyshell who will also probably win). Shannon is the true master of Long Day’s Journey. His performance was real and powerful as if it was coming out of his damaged soul, and I would love him to be the upset, but I’m guessing he won’t. He didn’t seem to fit into this family or into this production as seamlessly as his performance deserved, but watching him steal that last act on all the levels of emotionality and physicality was drunkenly powerful.
The other three were all solid but slightly lost in the crowded field of their respective plays.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
❤️Megan Hilty, Noises Off
👉Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed
As I already said, I think this award is destined for Houdyshell, but any of the two wonderful actresses from Eclipsed could steal it out of her hands, and I wouldn’t be bothered a bit. But my true love in this fantastic group of five is for Hilty and her spectacularly funny work in Noises Off. Generally I think acting in comedies never gets their just rewards, but comedy is hard, and Hilty just hilariously walks away with that show.