a theatre, film & pop culture review
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. Those that are listed but not ranked are performances that I was not able to see.
Should be here: Candice Bergen, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Sadly, I only saw two of these performances, but fret not, I can still offer you some solid predictions. Spencer Kayden‘s (the original Little Sally in Urinetown) comic cook in Don’t Dress for Dinner is very French, very odd, and very, very funny. Her extraordinary poker-face never betrays her martini-dry sense of humor, and her comic timing is impeccable. Unfortunately, the show received horrible reviews, and while I don’t think it was that bad, it’s bad enough that it’s certainly ruined any chance the talented actress has of remaining in this race.
Celia Keenan-Bolger is our best child actress who isn’t actually a child (she also played Olive Ostrovsky in William Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). Petite and fresh-faced, Keenan-Bolger perfectly balances earnest and endearing as both the no-nonsense leader of the rag-tag bunch of Lost Boys and the optimistic and imaginative girl who captures Peter’s heart in Peter and the Starcatcher. She’ll have her Tony some day, but not for this role, and certainly not in a competition this fierce.
Talent clearly runs in the family. In her Broadway debut, Condola Rashad (daughter of Phylicia) received universal raves for her performance in Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly, with many critics proclaiming that her maid in the sprawling family dramedy about an upper-class African-American family the only reason they enjoyed the problematic play so much. A revelation in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined in 2009, Rashad is destined for a Tony, but like Keenan-Bolger, this is simply not her year.
Really, this race is between the two seasoned professionals represented here who both shine in well-reviewed productions. Linda Emond certainly has the advantage of bringing one of American theatre’s most beloved classics to life, and according to critics, her Linda Loman is the heart and soul of this production of Death of a Salesman, intensely brimming with intelligence and flawless devotion.
This is Judith Light‘s second Tony Award nomination in a row, and let’s be honest, she should have won last year (Wtf, Ellen Barkin?). I saw the fabulous Linda Lavin in this role off-Broadway, and by all accounts, Light is even better. Quite frankly, after experiencing how she dramatically elevated a mediocre play like Lombardi, I can believe it. As the alcoholic aunt in Other Desert Cities, Light took a different approach from Lavin, allowing audiences to dislike her and putting her full agony of emotions on display when her betrayals are made clear. The New Yorker declared Light “could read a phone book and keep an audience interested.” That statement isn’t hyperbole.