Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

2011 Tony Awards: Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winners will be in orange.

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

1. John Larroquette
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

2. Adam Godley
Anything Goes

3. Rory O’Malley
The Book of Mormon 

4. Colman Domingo
The Scottsboro Boys

5. Forrest McClendon
The Scottsboro Boys

Missing: Nick Adams, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Colman Domingo (Passing Strange) and Forrest McClendon (this is his Broadway debut) have been with The Scottsboro Boys since it premiered off-Broadway at the Vineyard just over a year ago. Directed by John Cullum’s white Interlocutor, they open and close the show with a startling flourish of pure minstrelsy. Colorfully adorned and eerily happy, with large grins painfully plastered across their faces, they are deliciously spot-on as Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, soft-shoeing their way through the tragic story of nine wrongfully accused men. But Scottsboro is a distant memory, closing nearly six months ago, and as wonderful as they were in their respective — and unfortunately too similar — roles, they can’t help but cancel each other out of this race.

While Rory O’Malley is a treat as the squeaky-clean, sexually repressed Mormon cheerfully willing converts to Christianity in Uganda, he only has one major (though memorably hilarious) scene, in which he leads his fellow Mormons to “turn off” all those pesky habits like, y’know, homosexuality. He may get a boost in votes simply out of a general  love for the The Book of Mormon, but the material doesn’t offer him enough to distinguish himself for the purposes of this race.

A big film and television actor, Adam Godley has graced the stage in his native England numerous times, but this marks only his second show stateside (the first being Private Lives in 2002). A gangly Gumby of sorts, Godley deploys his British sensibility and humor at full tilt as the prim Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, revealing impeccable comic timing in his absurd attempts to woo Hope Harcourt. The laughs he generates are the only genuinely funny moments in an otherwise laborious revival of Anything Goes (more on that later).

I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Godley walked away this award, but all signs seem to point to John Laroquette takin’ home the Tony for his work in How to Succeed. Universally praised for his dopey portrayal of big boss J.B. Bigley, Larroquette alternates between blustery and nimble, transferring from no-nonsense corporate dictator to a giddy, closeted sweater-knitter in the bat of an eye. Now a few months into the run, he clearly favors the silliness inherent to the role, and plays it for all it’s worth to a very enthusiastic audience. Charming when making irrational business decisions, he’s beyond delightful when contorting his 6’4″-frame to friskily mimic a groundhog as he prances about the stage. A true comedian through and through — and hey, he can sing (ok), too! — he should earn a Tony for this, his Broadway debut.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2011 by in Award Predictions, Broadway, Musical, Theatre, Tony Awards.

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