Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

2013 Tony Awards Predictions: Best Lighting Design of a Play

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 LIGHTING DESIGN FOR A PLAY

Lucky Guy Broadhurst Theatre

1. LUCKY GUY
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer

2. THE TESTAMENT OF MARY
Jennifer Tipton

3. THE NANCE
Japhy Weideman

GOLDEN BOY
Donald Holder

First-time nominee Japhy Weideman (whose only other Broadway credit is this season’s Cyrano de Bergerac) does a solid job of distinguishing between 1930s stage lighting (lots of soft pastels) and the harsher glares of the city in The Nance, while two-time winner Jennifer Tipton’s design for The Testament of Mary is as beautifully busy as the staging, with skies saturated in rainbow colors and lighting that gently shimmers the golden tones of that super-symbolic tree. But neither of these highly competent nominees has much of a chance of winning.

As usual, it comes down to two. While I didn’t see Golden Boy, Donald Holder seemed to use a lot of side lights to create some highly dramatic looks for moody, smoky boxing rings. While the two-time Tony winner for South Pacific and The Lion King has a real shot here, the other super-stylized nominee has a better one. For Lucky Guy, designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer employed the blacks and whites of film noir to underscore both the sleek and seedy sides of 1980s New York, while also cleverly commenting on the so-called “black and white” facts of newspaper reporting. When the hard-nosed reporters relax in rare moments of camaraderie at the neighborhood pub, the coolness fades away and is replaced by the warm, convivial tones of yellow and gold. Like its subjects, the lighting is shrewd and intuitive, and eight-time winner Fisher and two-time winner Eisenhauer are bound to get lucky on June 9.

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