NEW YORK — It's been a year on Broadway so unpredictable that the only thing for certain at the Tony Awards on Sunday is that Hugh Jackman will be the host. There have been no clear juggernauts — although some wonderful performances — and critics have largely bemoaned the lack of strong new good musicals and plays. In fact, the best revival categories this year easily overshadow anything new.
That has led to uncertainty in most of the categories, and the nominating committee made no friends with choices that left many scratching their heads. CBS won't be too happy that the likes of Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, James Franco and Rachel Weisz didn't get nominations. To make matters worse, the telecast faces off against Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
So, into the breach, The Associated Press handicaps some of this year's messy races.
Will win: "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder." Should win: "Aladdin."
"A Gentleman's Guide" is the only one of the four nominees to have all original music and is a hard-working, witty, fun work that deserves its win. But "Aladdin" has everything a big musical should have — humor, high-step dancing, big sets and costumes, a bona fide leading man in James Monroe Iglehart and tried-and-tested songs. It's even got a flying carpet. Who could ask for anything more? Actually, we could ask for more nominations: "The Bridges of Madison County," ''If/Then," ''Bullets Over Broadway" and "Rocky" — though each was somewhat flawed — all deserved to be here, too.
Will win: "All The Way." Should win: "Mothers and Sons."
The first turbulent year of Lyndon Johnson's presidency is the gripping focus of Robert Schenkkan's play and it owes its likely win to Bryan Cranston, who is spellbinding in the lead role. But the play is bloated and gets bogged down in the second half. Terrence McNally's "Mothers and Sons" is gentle in a way "All the Way" is showy. And in its subtle dialogue, McNally's play often seems more authentic than Schenkkan's. The other contestants — "Act One," ''Casa Valentina" and "Outside Mullingar" — are delightful without leaving a lasting impression.