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More on the Tony Races: Watch Out for 'Memphis' and 'Next Fall'

NEXT FALL Luke Adam Breakfast 1318
To paraphrase John Patrick Shanley from a few season back when he won every award going for Doubt, we're in the middle of a s--t storm of theatre awards. Today my colleagues and I will vote on the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. Sunday, the Lucille Lortel Awards will be bestowed by Bebe Neuwirth and Bryan Batt. Monday, the Drama Desk nominations will be announced by Brian Stokes Mitchell and Cady Hoffman and the next day the big one--the Tonys nominations will be delivered by Jeff Daniel and Lea Michele. In my last blog post, I handicapped the Best Musical, speculating that the race would boil down to a contest between American Idiot and The Addams Family. Since then, a Facebook friend reminded me that I should watch out from Memphis, the safe middle-of-the-run choice between the hard-rock Idiot and the critical-flop-but-box-office-champ Addams. There is buzz that Addams might not even make the final cut even though they just announced a national tour of the show.

So if Addams gets the big snap-off--as it did from the Outer Critics Circle--what will fill its slot? (And BTW, why did the OCC have five nominees for Best Broadway Musical when they normally have four?) Fela! is a lock, so that leaves Million Dollar Quartet, Come Fly Away and Sondheim on Sondheim. The Tony nominators may be feeling their oats and defying the powerful producers who will want a really commercial show in there, thus the possible Addams snub. If so, they might give it to Sondheim which is a limited run.

As for Best Play, there is no clear front-runner. Enron received the most diverse reviews of the season with the critics either hating it as a shallow smoke-and-mirrors fraud or loving it as a insightful indictment of excessive American capitalism. So it's kind of in the same position as The Addams Family with its gang of over 35 producers wanting a Tony nod to cement its box office future. The reaction to Race was equally mixed. Red is by an American author, but comes to us with a British production and cast, so it has snob appeal. The only other plays still running are Next Fall, Geoffrey Nauffts'  tender drama of a gay couple coping with religious differences and A Behanding in Spokane, Martin McDonagh's bloody comedy. Spokane is remarkable cheifly for Christopher Walken's quirky star turn as a wacky killer. Fall will definitely get a Tony nomination and I wouldn't be surprised if it won as a safe choice, much like Memphis.

Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still has its champions and Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room or the vibrator play was a Pulitzer finalist, but they both closed and the Tonys are loathe to "waste" a nomination on a shuttered show.

Photo of Next Fall: Carol Rosegg 

--David Sheward

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