Tony Awards preview: What play revivals could contend?

In one of the richest slates in years, there is stiff competition for the four slots for Best Play Revival. Indeed, the Tonys just tweaked their rules to allow the nominations committee to add a fifth contender in categories such as this one where there are at least nine productions that qualify for consideration. 

Tony Awards preview: What plays could contend?

The front runner is the remounting of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” a play that has not had a strong history with the Tony awards. While the original production debuted on Broadway one year before the first Tonys were handed out, the five revivals of this play have never received a single Tony nomination, a streak that will most likely end this year. Tony winner John Tiffany (“Once”) directed this revival which saw its run extended after very strong reviews. Leading lady Cherry Jones, who has an Emmy for “24,” could well add a third Tony to her mantle. And two of the other players — Emmy nominee Zachary Quinto (“American Horror Story: Asylum”) and two-time Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger are likely to contend as well, with Quinto in lead and Keenan-Bolger in featured. (An earlier version of this item incorrectly had Quinto in featured as well.) 

A double bill of Shakespeare could each reap bids. The acclaimed all-male production of “Twelfth Night” from London’s Globe Theater is being performed in repertory with a new production of “Richard III,” both plays starring two-time Tony winner Mark Rylance, who won Best Actor honors for lead performances in “Boeing Boeing” (2008) and “Jerusalem” (2011). “Twelfth Night” was last revived on Broadway in a Tony nominated production in 1998 starring Oscar and four time Emmy winner Helen Hunt. “Richard III,” despite having been revived on Broadway several times, has never received a single Tony nomination in any category. Critical acclaim, which significantly influences the nominations, seems to favor “Twelfth Night” being nominated, along with the fact that it is performed six times a week as opposed to “Richard III” playing only twice a week. The production just concluded its run.

Another pair of plays running in repertory feature legendary actors returning to Broadway. Tony champ Ian McKellan (“Amadeus”) and Patrick Stewart (Tony nominee for “Macbeth”) take the lead roles in Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land,” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” The original production of “No Man’s Land” in 1976 crossed the pond from the National Theater in London, and has reached near mythic status thanks to the lead performances of a pair of legendary actors — Sirs John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson; Richardson reaped a Tony bid for Best Actor. The first Broadway revival in 1994 starred Jason Robards and Christopher Plummer, the latter of whom received a Tony nod.  “Godot” has had two previous Broadway revivals, but only the most recent in 2009 received any Tony nominations (for Revival and Featured Actor). 

While the critical reaction for the revival of another Pinter play, “Betrayal,”was muted. But the production did boffo numbers at the box office thanks to husband and wife pairing of Daniel Craig and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (Supporting Actress, “The Constant Gardener”). The play was last revived on Broadway in 2000, earning Tony nominations for the production and star Juliette Binoche.

Star power is also behind a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” with two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington (“Glory” “Training Day”) headlining. He who won a Tony for his last Broadway appearance in a revival of August Wilson’s “Fences.”  Washington will be joined by Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (“Caroline, or Change”), Oscar nominee Sophie Okenedo (“Hotel Rwanda”) and LaTonya Richardson Jackson (she replaces Diahann Carroll, who recently withdrew from the production.) Kenny Leon also directed the 2004 revival of “Raisin” in 2004 that won Tonys for lead Phylicia Rashad and featured player Audra McDonald

Three of the eligible revivals have never received a single Tony nomination. Terrence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy” debuted on Broadway in 1947, the inaugural year of the Tonys, but received no nominations and is only having its first revival.  “Of Mice and Men,” which John Steinbeck adapted from his own novel, was last revived on Broadway in 1973 and starred James Earl Jones. This production will pair Oscar nominee James Franco (“127 Hours”) and Chris O’Dowd in their Broadway debuts. And Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy, “The Cripple of Inishman,”which premiered off-Broadway in 1998 will star Daniel Radcliffe, whom many feel deserved a Tony nom for his last rialto appearance in the revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Both “Of Mice and Men” and “Cripple” will the advantage of being fresh in voters’ minds, having opened just days before the eligibility deadline of April 24. “The Winslow Boy” ended its limited run in December. 

BEST PLAY REVIVAL
“Betrayal”
“The Cripple of Inishmaan”
“The Glass Menagerie”
“No Man’s Land”
“Of Mice and Men”
“A Raisin in the Sun”
“Richard III”
“Twelfth Night”
“Waiting for Godot”
“The Winslow Boy”

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