Tony Picks The Tonys:
Predictions for the 2008 Tony Awards

by Tony Phillips

"Eyes, hair, mouth, figure. Dress, voice, style, movement. Hands, magic, rings, glamour. Face, diamonds, excitement, image." Okay, now that all credibility has been lost by quoting an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, let’s get straight to Tony’s 2008 Tony predictions, shall we?

First off, prediction numero uno is the big old hissy fit that will be thrown if this reporter’s spot on the red carpet is next to an idling news van again. Broadway’s biggest night can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but carbon monoxide poisoning should not be one of them.

Like its big sis, Oscar, this was a year that was also marred by strike. The stagehands shut down 27 Broadway shows last November, but certainly didn’t give us any of the drama that the writers out in Hollywood did with their "are they or aren’t they?" run-up to the actual Oscar telecast. We can only hope that little brat who made the evening news crying in front of "The Grinch" is amply rewarded for her efforts during the Tony Awards. And 86-ed from the theater for the rest of her life.

So before Whoopi hits the stage, here’s our vote:

Best Costume Design of a Play
Gregory Gale, "Cyrano de Bergerac;" Rob Howell, "Boeing-Boeing;" Katrina Lindsay, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses;" Peter McKintosh, "The 39 Steps."

Back in 1968, Merce Cunningham asked Andy Warhol to provide his silver cloud pillows as décor for the appropriately anarchic dance "RainForest." Warhol said sure, but also asked to do the costumes. His idea? He wanted the dancers nude. He also wanted a costume credit in the Playbill. The same principal applies to this year’s costume design nominees. It’s not so much about what the actor’s were wearing, but what they weren’t. Following that other dance axiom-"Dress the women and undress the men"-Kate Lindsay really should take home the Tony for "Liaisons" and probably will. Laura Linney’s dresses were beyond gorgie and unlike Jennifer Garner in "Cyrano," La Linney didn’t look like a Barbie under plastic wearing them. Plus, the show’s got tons of nudity and male full frontal at that! Come on, let’s give this girl the prize already. Of the remaining two, Rob Howell only had those exhausted fashion trends: Gina Gershon and Pan Am jet-set chic-yes, Marc Jacobs, we’re talking to you-to work with, while dark horse "39 Steps" had too few actors wearing too many costumes.

To sum up, Katrina Lindsay for "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" should win best costume design of a play and she will. Ben Daniels naked: gay heaven.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

David Farley, "Sunday in the Park with George;" Martin Pakledinaz, "Gypsy;" Paul Tazewell, "In The Heights;" Catherine Zuber, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific."

Let’s clear away some chaff before we begin a serious discussion of these nominees, shall we? First of all, Patti LuPone looked like a linebacker in "Gypsy." And yes, part of that is Patti LuPone is a linebacker, but isn’t it the costume designer’s job to work around that? Buh-bye, Martin Pakledinaz. Number two, there’s a Strawberry’s retail store just steps away from Tony venue Radio City Music Hall and it should get a best costume design award before Paul Tazewell for the tangy "In The Heights." Buh-bye, Paulie. Okay, that done, let’s talk about the remaining two. David Farley’s costumes for "Sunday" were gorgeous, but where was the nudity? Beefy Alexander Gemignani-the pipe-smoking boatsman lazing on the lawn in the Seurat painting this show is based upon-stripped down to an orange tank. Would it have killed him to take it off? Also, the second act contemporary costumes were a bore. That leaves the illustrious Catherine Zuber for "South Pacific" and her wonderful shirtless costume for Matthew Morrison, hunky Link from the "Hairspray" musical. "South Pacific" has a largely male cast and shower scenes: need more be said? From my seats there were a couple of lovely butt exposures, but I’m quite sure audience members on either side of the Beaumont’s, ahem, thrust stage, got at least a flash of cock. Thanks, "South Pacific" publicist.

To sum up, Catherine Zuber for "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific" should win best costume design of a musical and she will. Special citation: after this season’s towel number in "The Ritz" and now his tightie whities in "South Pacific," Nick Mayo, we wanna spread you all over something.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Peter McKintosh’s set for "39 Steps" was a triumph of minimalism and probably did the most with the least and should therefore win, but Tony voters probably won’t care. They were too busy having a nostalgia trip zoning out on Scott Pask’s very "Chorus Line" looking set for "Liaisons." Of the remaining two, "August" was just a big house and only under the most monsoon of sweep conditions will it take home the Tony. Anthony Ward’s kitchen set for "Macbeth" was also inspired, but Tony voters are still probably miffed that food was only served to those on stage.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
"Sunday in the Park with George" should absolutely win the award. It’s mind-blowing meld of video and set created a new high water mark this season. And the Tony’s don’t have a video category. It’s hard to imagine any Tony voter taking in Anna Louizos’ Washington Heights set and thinking anything other than "Taxi!" So good luck, Anna. Of the remaining two, Tony voters will probably assuage their guilt over doling out a measly three nominations to Mel and give it to Young Frankenstein.

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, "Cry-Baby;" Andy Blankenbuehler, "In The Heights;" Christopher Gattelli, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific;" Dan Knechtges, "Xanadu."

Rob Ashford did hands-down the finest work of the season with his second act opener for "Cry-Baby." The problem here is most Tony voters probably didn’t hang around after the car wreck that was act one. Let’s just give this show a Neely O’Hara "do the second act first" citation and move on. Andy Blankenbuehler would probably nab a Tony for "In The Heights" if it wasn’t for that pesky wife of his. Tony producers have gotten way too used to that two shot of choreographer and boyfriend to change things up now. And what happens if he does win? They’re going to show him kissing his wife on national television? Gross. That leaves "Starlight Express," oops, I mean "Xanadu." If you think that show has a chance, please reference above cred-killing Andrew Lloyd Weber quote in the introduction to this piece. Rollerblades scare a voting body for whom hip replacements are at issue. So I guess that leaves "South Pacific." And after almost a year of bitching about the experimental nature of Tony winner Bill T. Jones very avant-garde movement for "Spring Awakening," Tony voters might just be worn down and ready for a more traditional choice.

To sum up, Rob Ashford should win, but Christopher Gattelli will win for "South Pacific." Xanax-do tip: be on the lookout for Jackie Hoffman’s "I only do televised dancing on two Xanax and a cocktail" during the broadcast’s big "Xanadu" number.

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, "Sunday in the Park with George;" Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, "In The Heights;" Stew and Heidi Rodewald, "Passing Strange;" Jonathan Tunick, "A Catered Affair."

Okay, not too many people even know what the hell orchestrations are, so let’s not spend too much time here and just give it to Jonathan Tunick, who had the unenviable task of orchestrating a fairly screechy score for "Catered Affair" and did his usual bang up job.

Best Book of a Musical

Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, "Cry-Baby;" Quiara Alegría Hudes, "In The Heights;" Stew, "Passing Strange;" Douglas Carter Beane, "Xanadu. "

Let’s make some cuts, shall we? The book for "Cry-Baby" was retarded and are we really going to do "Quiara Alegría Hudes" to some poor presenter with only a teleprompter as their guide? So buh-bye "Cry" and adios "In The Hieghts." Of the two that remain, Stew’s book for "Passing Strange" was epic. It really should win. But Tony voters like Douglas Carter Beane, and frankly, what’s not to like? So "Xanadu" will probably take home the Tony for best book. And anyone able to make some kind of narrative sense out of that blow-inspired 1980 masterpiece probably deserves a Tony for their troubles.

Best Original Score

"Cry-Baby," music and lyrics: David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger; "In The Heights," music and lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda; "The Little Mermaid, music: Alan Menken, lyrics: Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater; "Passing Strange," music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald, lyrics: Stew.

This is probably the toughest category to choose from, they’re all that good. It was also most annoying category to format and type, but you don’t want to hear my pain. Let’s parse. The music in "Cry-Baby" side-stepped that "here’s our soul number, here’s our doo-wop number" formula of "Hairspray," but the lyrics are going to kill its chances. David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger ("In the Heights") will probably win this category. At 13, the show has the most noms. It has to get something. I’ve been shocked to discover how many times I’ve put on "The Little Mermaid" score since it arrived and you can be sure that somewhere some cabaret pianist is learning Sherie Rene Scott’s big number "Poor Unfortunate Souls," but there’s kind of an anti-Disney vibe this year among voters. Stew really should win for "Passing Strange." I still have the song "Amsterdam" stuck in my head and I last saw that show a year ago at the Public Theater. So Stew should get it, but "In The Heights" will bring it home.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daniel Breaker, "Passing Strange;" Danny Burstein, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific;" Robin De Jesús, "In The Heights;" Christopher Fitzgerald, "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein; Boyd Gaines, "Gypsy."

Boyd Gaines being bumped into the featured category for what is clearly the male lead in "Gypsy" gives you some idea of where Tony voters are headed with this much less crowded category. Still, Herbie had my vote in either the lead or featured slot. He was that good. Danny Burstein and Robin De Jesús will both suffer from the "who was that again?" syndrome when Tony voters sit down to cast their ballots. There were simply too many actors on the stage in both shows. And that leaves Daniel Breaker and Christopher Fitzgerald, who both turned in sublime supporting roles, but I’m sorry, Tony is going home with Mr. Gaines. Whoops, make that the Tony Award is going home with Mr. Gaines.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
de’Adre Aziza, "Passing Strange;" Laura Benanti, "Gypsy;" Andrea Martin, "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein;" Olga Merediz, "In The Heights;" Loretta Ables Sayre, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific."

I’ve tried not to start any of these categories with gay shame alerts, but here it can’t be helped. Where the hell is Karen? She turned in my favorite big Broadway performance of the season and is certainly the best thing in "Young Frankenstein" and she doesn’t even make the cut? What’s that about? Can’t a girl make some money on television and not be penalized for it? Megan Mullally, you was robbed. If there were any justice in this world, they’d give it to Andrea Martin not only as a mea culpa, but because she was the other funniest thing in "Young Frankenstein." But let’s face it, the Tony’s going to Laura Benanti for "Gypsy." She not only did fine work, but she held her own against La LuPone and has been breaking her neck for years. No, literally. She fell off the stage during 2002’s revival of "Into the Woods." I hate to call such nuanced work the sympathy vote here, but let’s make sure she’s sitting next to Arthur Laurents, mkay? Of the remaining three, Loretta Ables Sayre is completely ovah and I’d love to see her win, but if they put any more actress in this category, we’re going to need a lubricant. Still, her Bloody Mary is definitely the Broadway debut of the season. Of the two that remain, I almost cheered when "In The Heights" hyper-annoying grandmother Olga Merediz kicked the bucket so let’s get rid of her for good. In multiple roles, de’Adre Aziza from "Passing Strange" certainly earned a Tony, but neither is going to take home any awards. And what, was Priscilla Lopez busy? Why Abuela for "Heights" and not Morales? It must be an uptown thing.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Daniel Evans, "Sunday in the Park with George;" Lin-Manuel Miranda, "In The Heights;" Stew, "Passing Strange;" Paulo Szot, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific;" Tom Wopat, "A Catered Affair."

The critics, they love themselves some Paulo Szot. And I don’t know, maybe the Brazilian baritone deserves it, but his characterization of Emile de Becque put the strange in "stranger across a crowded room." During intermission, my seatmate could help pointing out what a sleazy creep de Becque is, springing that blended family on poor Nellie only after she professes her love for him. And he’s right, the guy’s a creep, but does that make him a creep that deserves a Tony? I don’t know, let’s just say this guy’s name is pronounced "shot" and leave it at that, but Bernie Telsey surely deserves his own special Tony for going so far out on a limb casting such a traditional version of this classic with so many debuts. Over in "Sunday" land, Daniel Evans is so so good as George Seurat and so so retarded as Seurat’s swishy grandson that he seems to have wandered over from the show Sondheim revived last season, "Company." Tom Wopat wasn’t good enough to win in "Catered Affair," but should be given some kind of conciliatory "he’s still hot" award. Harvey could bestow an honorary pair of Daisy Dukes or something. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stew may cancel each other out as creator and star types, but if I was in Washington Heights and someone put a gun to my head, I’d probably pick Stew, if only because Miranda is sure to pick up a couple behind-the-scenes awards, especially best score.

To sum up, Stew should get it, but Paulo Szot will get it and if Tom Wopat ever wants to get it, call me. I’m in the book. Gay shame alert: where the hell is Cheyenne Jackson? He’s actually wearing the Tom Wopat commemorative Daisy Dukes for the entirety of "Xanadu" and he didn’t make the cut? It’s about awarding courage, people, and that includes costumes.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kerry Butler, "Xanadu;" Patti LuPone, "Gypsy;" Kelli O’Hara, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific;" Faith Prince, "A Catered Affair;" Jenna Russell, "Sunday in the Park with George."

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is Patti’s turn. Again. We didn’t open with a quote from "Evita" for the hell of it, but there’s plenty of other excellent work in this category to be considered. The class of "Hairspray" continues to exonerate itself with Kerry Butler’s star turn in "Xanadu." Is there anyone left from that original "Hairspray" cast that’s not a Broadway superstar by now? And Butler took her turn with the added pressure of that tiny blonde bitch-you know who she is-dropping out of the lead at the very last minute. Kelli O’Hara has certainly put in her time with amazing performances in "Piazza" and "Pajama Game," but voters may still remember "Dracula" or it just simply may not be her year. Jenna Russell probably cancels out Kelli O’Hara as they’re both early-to-mid-career divas. Not so, Faith Prince, who had the potential to cancel out La LuPone in the full-blown diva category, but turned in a sloppy mess of a performance in "Catered Affair."

To sum up, Patti LuPone will win and probably should, but I can’t help hoping Kerry Butler pulls off the upset of the evening. Hey Tonys, how about a tie?

Best Revival of a Musical

"Grease, "Gypsy," "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific," "Sunday in the Park with George."

First off, that pesky rumor that "Grease" is only in here because there are four slots and only four revivals opened this season is not going to help this show. And come on, despite the best Cha-Cha DeGregorio Broadway’s ever seen, there’s not much here. "Sing out, Cha-Cha," which brings us to "Gypsy." This show is certainly the odds-on favorite to win, and though Patti was bril in both houses, I had a better time at the more stripped down version at City Center last summer. "South Pacific" was my favorite piece of theater this year, hands-down. I hope it wins, but I think Gypsy will. I also liked "Sunday in the Park," but feel like it lost some steam in its transfer across the pond. The Menier Chocolate Factory that housed this show on the West End in 2005 is about a quarter of the size of Studio 54, but you’re a lot less likely to find a gram of coke from 1979 lodged in a banquette. Hey, every little bit helps in a category that’s this tight.

Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Buntrock, "Sunday in the Park with George;" Thomas Kail, "In The Heights;" Arthur Laurents, "Gypsy;" Bartlett Sher, "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific."

Although most of the on-stage direction for "Gypsy" comes courtesy Rose ("Sing out, Louise."), the show’s actual director and bookwriter, Arthur Laurents, is a clear favorite to win this category. Tony voters probably feel Bartlett Sher did a better job with "South Pacific"-and he did-but come on, Laurents is 90-years-old! Who do you think is going to win? And besides, "South Pacific" has more nominations than "Gypsy," Tony voters will have more than enough opportunity to assuage their guilt. The other two don’t stand a chance, but Sam Buntrock had the bigger challenge coordinating all that video to match the action seamlessly.

To sum up, Bartlett Sher should win, but Arthur Laurents will and is Thomas Kail even Latino?

Best Musical
"Cry-Baby," "In The Heights," "Passing Strange," "Xanadu"

This category is really where the Tony Award bias of what will sell well on a national tour comes into play, and it really splits the category in two: the cheese-factor musicals and those musicals with "difficult" subject matter. Let’s tackle the cheese first. What regional theater wouldn’t love to book either "Cry-Baby" or "Xanadu" into their house? "Cry-Baby" is the more accessible of the two, but I took my mom-my personal bellwether for middle America-to "Xanadu" and she loved it. Either one would be gangbusters in any theater in this country, but they’re also the lesser of the four nominees. Which brings us to the musicals with "difficult" subject matter. And by "difficult," I mean musicals dealing with black or brown people. But snubs of corporate schlock meisters like Mr. Brooks and Mr. Disney in this category could mean Tony voters are willing to continue their embrace of experimental fare, which started last season with the shift from "Jersey Boys" to "Spring Awakening" in this category. If that’s the case, then even though "Passing Strange" is actually more bourgie, "In The Heights," with it’s thirteen noms, is the best candidate to find itself a sweep.

To sum up, I like cheese and "Xanadu" should win. How could a show that’s "like children’s theater for 40-year-old gay people" not get my vote? But the award will go to In The Heights. Gay shame factor: where’s Harvey? Okay, "Catered Affair" was not my favorite musical of the season, not by a long shot, but shouldn’t Harvey Fierstein just have a pass by now? And with his split duties as bookwriter and actor, this would be a perfect place to give the old girl some gay props.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Bobby Cannavale, "Mauritius;" Raúl Esparza, "The Homecoming;" Conleth Hill, "The Seafarer;" Jim Norton, "The Seafarer;" David Pittu, "Is He Dead?"

Jim Norton from "The Seafarer" is the odd-on favorite with critics in this category, proving even the irascible windbag can’t help loving an old, drunk Irish dude. He’s my pick too. I loved every second of him on-stage and wanted to take him home with me once the play was over. In fact, I think I want to take everyone in this category home with me. Conleth Hill was also sterling, but there’s no chance of "The Seafarer" guys canceling each other out. Jim Norton was that good. Raul Esparza may coast toward the number two spot just on the strength of last year’s Bobby, baby, but there was something a little too, I don’t know, Raul Esparza about his turn in the Pinter play. Of the remaining two nominees, it’s hard to say who’s cuter: Bobby Cannavale or David Pittu, but since I’d probably have a better shot with Pittu, let’s say him. Both actors did amazing work: Cannavale as one intense, leather-clad character in "Mauritius" and Pittu in what’s becoming a bit of a house special: the multi-character comic turn.

To sum up, ,Jim Norton should and will win, but David Pittu can have my phone number when Tom Wopat is done with it.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Sinead Cusack, "Rock ’n’ Roll;" Mary McCormack, "Boeing-Boeing;" Laurie Metcalf, "November;" Martha Plimpton, "Top Girls;" Rondi Reed, "August: Osage County."

I think Martha Plimpton should win, only for her performance in "Cymbeline," but that would move her over to the leading actress category and Tony voters may feel she’s not quite done being downtown’s latest it girl, so it’s Obie-only for another few years. Of the actual nominees that remain, I’m torn, so let’s deal with who’s not going to win. Laurie Metcalf in "November," I’m sorry, but I’ll say it, way too dykey, Laurie. This is Broadway, not after-hours at The Cubby Hole. You need to bring it down a notch, like to eleven. Rondi Reed, I had to look you up in my Playbill, probably not the strongest indication of a Tony lock. And now, for the "Sophie’s Choice" of the category. Sinead Cusack was incredibly brilliant in both roles she tackled in "Rock ’n’ Roll," but Mary McCormack, certainly a dark horse this season, was equally amazing in "Boeing-Boeing." I’d probably fling myself from the balcony if I had to sit through either one of these plays again, but these two truly did the finest work of the season. I’m going with McCormack only because heretofore I’d never given her a second thought and her ballsy German flight attendant make me sit up and notice her, but Tony voters will probably go with Cusack in that old saw drama inherently has more weight than comedy.

To sum up, Mary McCormack should win, but Sinead Cusack will. "Does my ass look fat in this drama?" alert: Martha Plimpton will pull off the ensemble of the evening.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Ben Daniels, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," Laurence Fishburne, "Thurgood;" Mark Rylance, "Boeing-Boeing;" Rufus Sewell, "Rock ’n’ Roll;" Patrick Stewart, "Macbeth."

I loved every second of Ben Daniels in "Liaisons," but some critics found the out Brit’s characterization a bit too femmy for someone who essentially fucks everyone in the play. So while I think Mr. Daniels should go home with the Tony, it’s looking like Laurence Fishburne actually will. And that’s a shame, because the night I saw "Thurgood"-aka "Oh my God, my sixth grade history book is talking!"-Mr. Fishburne had still not learned his lines. And I by no means saw this show early in its run. Let’s just quote "Evita" again and move on: "The actress hasn’t learned the lines you’d like to hear..." So that leaves Mark Rylance from "Boeing-Boeing," who’s been known to prance around in drag a bit and whom I’ve adored ever since he spooged on camera in Patrice Chéreau’s "Intimacy," but as one of the more clueless award voting bodies in town is giving him a best debut award, his work in the UK might not matter that much. Ditto Patrick Stewart, who’s really come a long way, and has had to endure Trekkies showing up in uniform at the theater during the ride. I just thought his Mussolini-inspired Macbeth was a little flat. Hot, sexy, but flat. So that leaves Rufus Sewell, who certainly wasn’t the best thing about "Rock ’n’ Roll," but at least his ever-changing mullet was interesting to watch.

To sum up, Ben Daniels should win, but Laurence Fishburne will. Under the heading gay shame: Brian Cox was far better than Rufus Sewell in "Rock ’n’ Roll" and now we’re all deprived of hearing one of those words you can’t say on television.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Eve Best, "The Homecoming;" Deanna Dunagan, "August: Osage County;" Kate Fleetwood, "Macbeth;" S. Epatha Merkerson, "Come Back, Little Sheba;" Amy Morton, "August: Osage County."

From the moment the pill-popping matriarch enters, with her distinct bedroom-slippered shuffle down that grand staircase, it’s kind of hard not to love Deanna Dunagan from "August." And critics do. She’s the odds-on favorite to win, but let’s not forget Eve Best for giving us an aspirational slut in "Homecoming." It must also be considered that Kate Fleetwood overcame charges of nepotism-she’s married to the director-to turn in a bang-up Lady Macbeth and Sharon Epatha Merkerson overcame the ridiculous color-blind casting of "Come Back, Little Sheba" to turn in a loveless Lola that was both as good and yet totally different from the legendary Shirley Booth turn. I’d love to comment on Amy Morton, I’ve heard great things about her performance, but she was out the night I went. Thanks, "August" publicist.

To sum up, Deanna Dunagan will take home the Tony for her boozy turn in "August," but Amy Morton from that same show is a bit of a wild card. I’m equally split between Eve, Kate and Sharon in terms of who should win, but let’s just go with Sharon, if only so I can refer to S. Epatha as Sharon just one more time. Personal best: four Sharons.

Best Revival of a Play

"Boeing-Boeing," "The Homecoming," "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," "Macbeth."

It’s so dark and creepy, one almost feels slightly nauseas the entire time. And that’s just credentialing with the Tony’s press office. But dark and creepy holds some sway in this best revival category as well, so let’s just bump "Boeing-Boeing" off the list. Of the remaining three productions: Pinter’s "Homecoming" is certainly the darkest material. It’s about a new bride whose husband brings her home and pimps her out to his working class Brit family. And what Tony voter hasn’t been there? It probably has a lock on the win. "Liaisons" and "Macbeth" are certainly the darkest productions lighting-wise and Tony found himself rummaging through his purse for that pen light he knows is in there. Tony had the best time at "Liaisons," but found the Lady Macbeth as Nigela Lawson and the ground-breaking reinterpretation of those crazy Weird Sisters made "Macbeth" the play that most needed to be revived.

To sum up, "Macbeth" should win, Homecoming will win and under the heading "we was robbed," what happened to Caryl Churchill’s "Top Girls" in this category? It was a horribly miked and sometimes obtuse production, but as far as titles go, it doesn’t get much gayer than "Top Girls."

Best Direction of a Play
Maria Aitken, "The 39 Steps;" Conor McPherson, "The Seafarer;" Anna D. Shapiro, "August: Osage County;" Matthew Warchus, "Boeing-Boeing."

Let’s just knock the two Brit comedies out of the running and talk about "The Seafarer" and "August: Osage County." The comedies just don’t stand a chance against the straight plays. For the sheer audacity of directing his own work, and directing it superbly, Conor McPherson should take home the Tony, but given the sweep potential of "August," Anna D. Shapiro will take home the Tony. And maybe that’s fair. She had the most actor names to learn of any of the nominees.

Best Play
"August: Osage County," "Rock ’n’ Roll," "The Seafarer," "The 39 Steps."

"August: Osage County" snagged the Pultizer Prize for drama this year so that may give Tracy Letts three-hour-plus assbuster a lock on best play. Tony voters may feel a Pulitzer gives the production tone. Tony, however, was kind of bored and if he wanted to watch a middle-aged broad stumble around all evening looped on painkillers, he could have just stayed home. "Rock ’n’ Roll," Tom Stoppard’s overly sentimental play, managed to drain the life out of both loud music and Prague. Tony voters may just get lazy and check Stoppard’s box because his astounding "Coast of Utopia" took home the best play award last year, but Tony would have just as soon stayed home with his Pink Floyd records and some good weed. If there were any justice in the world, "The Seafarer" would take home the gold this year. Tony voters may feel Conor McPherson’s gritty tale of the devil dropping in on a bunch of drunks on Christmas eve is too esoteric, but Tony has spent many a Christmas eve drunk and found this play, quite simply, the best of this and many other years. "The 39 Steps" was nominated for an Olivier Award-the British equivalent of the Tonys-last year, but Patrick Barlow’s tender Hitchcock spoof went home empty-handed, as it will again this year because the London production was far superior to what skipped across the pond.

To sum up, "The Seafarer" should win, but August: Osage County will win. Under the heading "we was robbed," what happened to Mark Twain’s 110-year-old play "Is He Dead?" Norbert Leo Butz passed on "Young Frankenstein" to prance around in a dress for almost an entire evening and shouldn’t that kind of gayness be rewarded at the end of the year?