Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

2014 Tony Awards Predictions: Best Featured Actress 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 PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

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1. LENA HALL
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

2.  LINDA EMOND
Cabaret

3. LAUREN WORSHAM
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

4. ANIKA LARSEN
Beautiful — The Carole King Musical

5. ADRIANE LENOX
After Midnight

These ladies moved around on my list a lot — except for the last one — because I don’t have an overwhelming favorite. These roles aren’t particularly  interesting or fleshed-out (this is when we decry the availability of quality roles for women, etc.). In point of fact, it’s tough to recall anyone from After Midnight besides Dulé Hill and Fantasia Barrino, and yet, out the nowhere, here’s this nomination for Adriane Lenox. For her second nomination (she won previously for Doubt), she plays a nameless character who sings two songs, ” Women Be Wise” and “Go Back Where You Stayed Last night.” This nomination makes about as much sense as the one for Elizabeth A. Davis in 2012. Don’t remember her? She was in Once. Still don’t remember? Well, exactly. Sorry, Adriane, but your presence here makes zero sense.

Making slightly more sense, but no less surprising, is the inclusion of Anika Larsen. Like Jarrod Spector, who plays Barry Mann to her Cynthia Weil, she’s very enjoyable to watch, but Weil is little more than an outline that Larsen doesn’t have much time or material to fill in. This is her first nomination, but it won’t be her first win.

In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Lena Hall plays Yitzhak, Hedwig’s androgynous husband and backup singer. Touchingly shy and with a perfect deadpan delivery, she’s marvelously passive aggressive toward Hedwig (who’s too self-absorbed to appreciate her, naturally). Leather-clad and boasting a pretty impressive pompadour and set of sideburns, she’s got a voice of steel that erupts with joy, and a glorious physical and emotional transformation, in the final stretch of the show. Heading her own hard rock band called The Deafening IRL, girl knows how to rock, and after her thankless role as a rigid girly-girl in Kinky Boots last year, it’s about time she let loose — and it’s great fun to watch her do so. Unfortunately, this is Neil Patrick Harris’s show, and Hall could be overlooked in his wake.

Linda Emond was nominated in this category two years ago for her turn opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman, and it was widely thought she might win. (It went to Judith Light for Other Desert Cities instead.) Voters look poised to make up for that loss by awarding her for her performance in Cabaret. Though she’s a bit young for Fraulein Schneider, her portrayal of the melancholy, matter-of-fact landlady is finely fashioned, and where other portrayals of Schneider and Schultz’s relationship have failed to move me, her interactions with Danny Burstein’s Herr Schultz are beautifully tender. Emond’s despairing delivery of “What You Would Do?” is a highlight, and it looks like that’s more than enough for voters to reward her with her first Tony.

As one of Monty’s (Bryce Pinkham) romantic interests in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Lauren Worsham is in lovely voice as the delicate and pristine Phoebe D’Ysquith, and her comic timing is excellent. There is the chance that Worsham could spoil Emond’s night: Of all the nominees, she has the most stage time (while Lena Hall is onstage for the entire 90-minute Hedwig, very little of the focus is on her), and people really, really like Gentleman’s Guide (No, I don’t get it either), so it may sweep a lot of the awards based on that goodwill alone. The problem with Worsham’s nomination is that it just as easily could have gone to her co-star Jane Carr (who plays the social-climbing Miss Shingle with a sharply-tuned sense of humor); folks may not be inclined to reward one when the other wasn’t even nominated.

 

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