When the Tony Awards are televised live June 6 on CBS (with a preliminary show airing on PBS), prepare to be confused. Among the nominees: new works by dead talents Tennessee Williams and Bob Fosse. Missing in action: showstopping performances by Nicole Kidman (The Blue Room) and Lea DeLaria (On the Town). Our Tony predictions for the strange yet fascinating 1998-99 season:
It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues
The Civil War
The Civil War is just filler here, and critics killed Parade (a closed musical has won only once: 1968’s Hallelujah, Baby!). The race is down to the two revues. Ask a Tony voter to choose between the history of The Blues or one of Broadway’s greatest choreographers and the answer is Fosse.
The Lonesome West
Not About Nightingales
Tough call. Williams’ previously unproduced prison drama, Nightingales, is ripe with old-school melodrama, but please — it’s 61 years old. Closer is smutty, provocative, and maybe a touch too controversial. Warren Leight’s Side Man — the only nominee that didn’t come from London — has the edge.
Annie Get Your Gun
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown is gaining momentum (after a surprise victory at the recent Drama Desk Awards), but Irving Berlin’s tourist-friendly Annie Get Your Gun remains the favorite.
Death of a Salesman
The Iceman Cometh
Twelfth Night had Helen Hunt, Iceman has Kevin Spacey (four hours’ worth), and Electra had overblown Greek pathos. But Salesman, in director Robert Falls’ production, has been reborn.
Carolee Carmello (Parade)
Dee Hoty (Footloose)
Bernadette Peters (Annie Get Your Gun)
Sian Phillips (Marlene)
Despite strong competition from Parade’s Carmello, Broadway baby Bernadette is a fave with audiences and voters alike.
Brent Carver (Parade)
Adam Cooper (Swan Lake)
Martin Short (Little Me)
Tom Wopat (Annie Get Your Gun)
Front-runners (and fellow Canadians) Carver and Short were neck in neck in this category in 1993, with Carver ultimately winning for Kiss of the Spider Woman. This time, the Artist Formerly Known as Grimley takes it by a hair.
Gretha Boston (Blues)
Kristin Chenoweth (Charlie Brown)
Valarie Pettiford (Fosse)
Mary Testa (On the Town)
Bet on pint-size Chenoweth, Charlie Brown’s kid sister, Sally, as the season’s It Girl.
Roger Bart (Charlie Brown)
Desmond Richardson (Fosse)
Ron Taylor (Blues)
Scott Wise (Fosse)
Taylor is the conceiver of Blues, which earns him points, but odds favor Bart as man’s best friend, Snoopy.
Stockard Channing (The Lion in Winter)
Judi Dench (Amy’s View)
Marian Seldes (Ring Round the Moon)
Zoe Wanamaker (Electra) After a 40-year absence from Broadway, Dench — the only first-time nominee in this category — is expected to get a Tony to go with her new Oscar.