As the 50 members of the Tony Awards nominating committee come together on Monday to vote on the best of the Broadway season, it’s time to remind them of performers who are sitting “on the bubble” of getting a nomination. Yes, there has been an immense amount of talent on stage this season, but these four musical performers should not be forgotten come nomination morning on Tuesday.
Zachary Levi, “She Loves Me” – Best Actor (Musical)
This utterly enjoyable revival has the audience grinning from ear to ear for from start to finish. And much of the smiling is thanks to leading man Zachary Levi, who oozes charm from the moment the lights come up. As always, this category has a wealth of competition from Broadway veterans standing in Levi’s way (he currently stands at 16/1 odds). But not only does the former “Chuck” star hold his own against powerhouses Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski, he plays one of the most likable characters of the season. If likability is a factor in awards races (and it is), then Levi deserves some recognition this year.
Carmen Cusack, “Bright Star” – Best Actress (Musical)
Seeking a nomination in a category which includes Audra McDonald, Cynthia Erivo, and Laura Benanti is no enviable task. But if ever there was a newcomer to break through a category of heavyweights (and defy her 33/1 odds), it is Carmen Cusack in “Bright Star.” Her voice gloriously soars through the folk/bluegrass score so effortlessly, one would never know her actual vocal training is in opera. She also has a secret weapon up her sleeve that her competition doesn’t: she gets to play Alice Murphy at two ages. In one scene she’s an awkward love-struck youth, the next moment altering her physicality to portray an older, more measured businesswoman. Cusack’s impressive showcase holds the entire show together.
Daniel N. Durant, “Spring Awakening: – Best Featured Actor (Musical)
Deaf West’s stunning revival of Duncan Sheik’s “Spring Awakening” remains one of the highlights of the season despite its limited run. In his Broadway debut, non-hearing actor Daniel N. Durant gave one of the most expressive and heartbreaking performances of the season as Moritz. This category is highly competitive, as “Hamilton” and “Shuffle Along” each having four men vying for a spot. However, John Gallagher Jr. won for the same role in the original production, and the Tonys would do well to recognize an MVP from this talented young ensemble.
Helene Yorke, American Psycho – Best Featured Actress (Musical)
The musical adaptation of “American Psycho” is likely to divide voters, considering it’s extremely dark humor and bloody murders. And for the most part, it is a showcase for Benjamin Walker who never leaves the stage. But Helene Yorke stands out as Patrick Bateman’s ditzy socialite girlfriend. Yorke may have less singing to do than the women she’s up against in Featured Actress, but she chews deliciously through each and every line she’s given. Walker’s sadistic Bateman makes the audience laugh uncomfortably, but Yorke makes the crowd roar with delight.