Thursday, April 18, 2024

Tony Awards Are Sunday: Who Should Win, Plus Nominee Sally Field is Staying Put in New York


The Tony Awards are Sunday on CBS. Even if Bette Midler doesn’t perform (doesn’t look like she will) there will be plenty of stars and lots of entertainment. On Monday night at the Sofitel, the Theater Wing invited all the nominees to a swanky cocktail and dinner, plus they gave out the Lifetime Achievement Awards (they’ll be mentioned on Sunday’s show.)

Nominee Sally Field, who finished a very a good run in “The Glass Menagerie,” told me she’s really living in New York. “I can’t wait to start another play,” the two time Oscar winner (and Emmy winner) told me. “I really want to do a new play. I don’t think I’ll get over this play [Menagerie] til I start a new one!”

Sally was having a good time hanging out with David Hyde Pierce (nominee for “Hello, Dolly!”) and Jefferson Mays (“Oslo”)– the latter poured drinks from an unmanned bar after cutting up with nominee Mary Beth Peil (from “Anastasia”). You may recall Mary Beth played Michelle Williams‘ “Gran” on “Dawson’s Creek.” How much older was she playing then, I asked her? “Oh, twenty years at least,” she said. “Now I’m really Gran’s age. You can’t imagine how many people wait at the stage door and say how much they loved Gran!”

I met Lucas Steele–-a cinch for Best Featured Actor in A Musical for “Natasha and Pierre.” He comes from a tiny town in northeast Pennsylvania that’s so rural they sometimes lose all phone and internet during storms. When he got his nomination on May 5th, he had to wait several days to tell his mom because all the lines were down!

Laurie Metcalf and Jayne Houdyshell from “A Doll’s House Part 2” were there, together, even though it’s a night off. So was Laura Linney from “The Little Foxes.” We’ve never had so many literally great actresses in plays up at one time– and that excludes the overlooked Alison Janney from “Six Degrees.” I do err on the side of Linney and her partner in crime Cynthia Nixon, for Best Actress and Featured Actress in a Play. But I think everyone in “The Little Foxes” should get awards.

No sign of Kevin Kline or Bette Midler, ‘natch. (I’m not even sure if Kevin Kline actually exists at this point.) I did run into Doug Morris, now chief emeritus of Sony Music, producer of “The Motown Musical” and now preparing Julie Taymor’s “M Butterfly” with Clive Owen. And nominee Rachel Bay Jones, who’s so swell in “Dear Evan Hansen.” She’s a charmer.

What to do about “Evan Hansen”? It’s a great musical, that’s for sure. Tony voters may be struggling with voting for its star Ben Platt vs. Andy Karl for “Groundhog Day.” They’re each par excellence. But Andy Karl has the edge for me. He’s been so good in so many shows including “Rocky,” I think it’s his time. Ben Platt will be back again.

Every year they say Broadway is dead, it’s dying, it’s over. But this was one of the best seasons ever. So what if Bette Midler doesn’t want to sing from Radio City? There’s plenty of top line material awaiting us.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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