Tony, Tony, Tony! :: Award Predictions Here!
"Broadway is not just for gays anymore!" sang Neil Patrick Harris when he opened the 2011 Tony Awards, but the openly gay superstar is likely to be singing a different tune on Sunday, June 8 after he takes home his first Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
This year's Tonys, to be hosted the hunkalicious Hugh Jackman at Radio City Music Hall, features some of the most competitive races in recent history! And Harris' category is no exception. He's up against four other mega-talented males, including dreamboats Ramin Karimloo ("Les Miserables") and Andy Karl ("Rocky"), along with past winner Jefferson Mays, whose astounding ability to play a wide variety of characters (including some possible homos and a couple of women) in the Victorian-themed "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" makes him a strong contender. But Harris will still come out on top (ahem) for his exhausting, exhilarating portrayal of the transgendered German singer in John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's popular musical.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" will also take home the top honors in the Best Revival of a Musical category over "Les Miz" and the equally worthy "Violet", and the marvelous Michael Mayer may well take home his second Tony as Best Director of a Musical, although he faces super-stiff competition from "Gentleman's Guide" inventive helmer Darko Tresnjak.
The Best Musical race is another close one, but the Carole King biotuner "Beautiful" is my bet to nab the big prize (since it will be especially popular with baby boomers, road-show producers, and anyone who's ever owned a copy of King's "Tapestry,"). Meanwhile, that show's wonderful leading lady, Jessie Mueller, will feel the earth move under her feet when she triumphs over such sublime stars as Kelli O'Hara ("The Bridges of Madison County"), Sutton Foster ("Violet") and Idina Menzel ("If/Then").
In the Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical categories, it will be a magical night for "Aladdin" co-star James Monroe Iglehart, who plays the super-friendly Genie, while the long-overdue Linda Emond as the long-suffering Frau Schneider in "Cabaret" will snatch the statuette from such truly talented youngsters as "Beautiful"'s Anika Larsen and "Gentleman's Guide"'s Lauren Worsham. (Trust me, their time will come!)
Will there be drama when it comes to this year's play categories? Robert Schenkkan's epic "All The Way" appears destined to earn enough votes to win the Best Play award over such thought-provoking pieces as Harvey Fierstein's "Casa Valentina" and Terrence McNally's "Mothers & Sons." While both of those works will appeal to the many gay Tony voters, since they each deal with the role of homosexuals in society, it can't be ignored that J. Edgar Hoover is a major presence in "All The Way."
No stranger to acceptance speeches, the brilliant Bryan Cranston (of "Breaking Bad" fame) will add another trophy to his increasingly crowded mantle for his magnificent portrayal of former president Lyndon Baines Johnson in "All The Way." And Tony history will be made when our beloved Audra McDonald is named Best Actress in a Play for her outstanding re-creation of songstress Billie Holliday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill." No other performer has ever won six competitive Tony Awards! Plus, McDonald will now also have one award in each of the four acting categories. (Take that, Beyonce! Who needs your "Time 100" cover!)
With McDonald's victory over an impressive field that includes Tyne Daly, Estelle Parsons, and lesbian icon Cherry Jones (don't cry for her Argentina, she's already got two Tonys of her own), the sublime reimagining of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" has one last chance for a major award! So will Celia Keenan-Bolger grab the gold for her work as the crippled Laura Wingfield? Yep. If she doesn't walk away with the Tony, it's probably because the show closed in February, and latecomers to the party missed her remarkable work -- in which case, Casa Valentina" co-star Mare Winningham will be the lucky recipient of the Best Featured Actress in a Play award.
Finally, Harris will be not the only professionally cross-dressing star on the podium, since two-time winner Mark Rylance will earn his own triple crown, this time as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his breathtaking work as the lovestruck Countess Olivia in Shakespeare's Globe's production of the Bard's "Twelfth Night." The show will also take home the award for Best Revival of a Play, which is the first time a Shakespearean comedy will have ever won that category. Make of that what you will!
The 68th Annual Tony Awards will be televised live from New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Sunday June 8th from 8-11 P.M. (ET/PT time delay) on CBS