Now that we’re back from Cannes, it’s time to look at the Tony Awards. And the biggest news is that “Kinky Boots” seems to be in lead over “Matilda” as new musical of the year. The Cyndi Lauper-Harvey Fierstein production is a smash at the box office. But it’s also won Best Musical from the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama League. Only the Drama Desk went for “Matilda,” a British import that is genius and admirable, but not quite in the Broadway spirit. Lets’ face it: “Kinky Boots” is fun, original by true New Yorkers, and has an eminently singable score.
On top of all that, Billy Porter is three for three as Best Actor in a Musical for “Kinky Boots.” Like the show and its score, Porter is headed for a Tony also. The sex, as Cyndi puts it, is in the heel.
So what else is happening Tony wise? For Best Play, Christopher Durang’s “Vanya” et al seems to have the edge over the late Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” But I do think Tom Hanks should be getting Best Actor for his work as Mike McAlary. Nathan Lane has been picking up awards for “The Nance” with most groups. We’ll see how that plays out. But Hanks, I thought, was superb.
Best Actress in a Play: Kristine Nielsen had the edge in “Vanya” until Cicely Tyson, age 88, turned up in “The Trip to Bountiful.” No kidding, Nielsen should be given ten statues. Everyone loves Cicely Tyson, but really, she has a lot of awards and accolades.
For Featured Actor: I say, Richard Kind in the still playing “The Big Knife.” Again, Kind has been kind enough to work and work and work, doing great things and culminating in this disarming performance. Tom Sturridge stole “Orphans,” but it’s his first time on Broadway. He’ll be back.
Featured Actress in a Musical: Andrea Martin is a wonder and a half in “Pippin,” the best revival of a musical in years. Maybe she’s using an avatar. But however she’s playing that role, a gold statue isn’t enough reward.
More tomorrow…But what a nice turn for Cyndi Lauper. She and Madonna started around the same time. Lauper, unlike Ms. Ciccone, was a serious composer and musician. She had to wait and fight for recognition. Her story is really the moral of “slow but steady.” A Tony victory for “Kinky Boots” will be a sweet vindication. I just hope the Tony committees and the Theater Wing realize what a damn good writer she is. I always send everyone back to Lauper’s “Hat Full of Stars” album — a lost gem from 20 years ago…