April 30, 2014 at 7:51 am #432944
Sutton Foster is a dark horse, but I think the race for Lead Actress in a Musical is really between Jessie Mueller and Kelli O’Hara. I am predicting Jessie Mueller’s Carole King will win the award. For one thing, Beautiful is nominated for Best Musical – as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s extremely rare for a Lead Actress Tony winner to be in a show that hasn’t been nominated for either Best Musical or Best Revival – the last time it happened was Heather Headley in 2000 for Aida. I find that Tony voters don’t do a whole lot of voting for an “overdue” winner, so while I wouldn’t be shocked if Kelli O’Hara were to win, I think Jessie Mueller will be the one to take home the Tony on June 8th…. agree or disagree???
(As for Mary Bridget Davies, her reward is the surprise nomination, and Idina Menzel is unlikely since If/Then wasn’t loved by the nominators)
The only time I remember being totally shocked by a Tony win in this category was when LaChanze won for The Color Purple; I thought either Sutton Foster for The Drowsy Chaperone or Patti LuPone for Sweeney Todd would win, and the spoiler was Kelli O’Hara for The Pajama Game – totally floored me…April 30, 2014 at 8:11 am #432946
Mueller is my prediction too. After all the wonderful work O’Hara has done (she would already have a 2005 Tony for The Light in the Piazza if it were up to me–she and Victoria Clark just shattered me in that show. I had to go to the Mandarin Oriental bar and get drunk after I saw it, lol), it would just seem odd for her first win to be for a minor show where she has… I’m just going to say it… a very studied accent, at least on the recording. And, as you say, the Tonys aren’t really that into sentimentality or the overdue factor. Plus, even though she’s never proven that her name is actually a box office draw, producers seem to be lining up to give O’Hara roles. (Supposedly there’s already a revival of The King and I in the works for her.) So it’s not like she’s in any danger of not having future chances.
As for the two previous winners in the category, Foster may suffer from the “enough already” factor since she just won so recently. Menzel is headlining a show that was written for her (so the role fits her like a glove), her name is actually selling lots of tickets, and it’s a huge role with several showstopping scenes for her, so I can’t quite discount her entirely, but the general lack of passion for the show itself may rub off on her.
Davies was lucky to get the nomination she probably deserved over Williams, but that’s about it.
That leaves Mueller a pretty certain winner for me. The show’s a hit, the reviews are there, the nomination committee likes it and she’s the center of it all.April 30, 2014 at 8:15 am #432947
I recall that LaChanze was pretty strong in that race but I guess it depends on who you talked to at the time.
As for this race, I am purely in Kelli O’Hara’s camp. She is absolutely glorious in Bridges and is also sounding the best she ever has. I do think it will be an uphill battle for her since Bridges was (unfairly) snubbed in many categories and will be probably facing closing notices soon, and I do agree overdue factors never really play into the Tonys.
Jessie Mueller does seemed the most poised at the moment to win and I think had Sutton Foster lost for Anything Goes, she would be making a stronger factor here.
Who knows though? The OCC and DDs may throw us in a completely different direction.
Mary Bridget Davies was very good and deserves this nomination.
Idina Menzel should be thankful she made it her and that Michelle Williams was received as she was.April 30, 2014 at 8:58 am #432948
I think Mueller is the best chance Beautiful has at a big win, and there will be a big push for it. She has also been working her as off ever since making her Broadway debut in On a Clear Day (a poorly received revival that she still managed a nomination for), and is seen as one of the “next big stars” of Broadway. So voters may want to crown a new marquee star.
Mary Bridget Davies absolutely deserved her nomination. Williams was always the weakest link in the lineup, and the reviews were so strong for Davies it was always a possibility she’d break through. They also smartly put out an article right before nominations about how one of the lead producers pulled the plug the day before they were set to re-open Off-Broadway. It was a smart move that painted Davies in a very sympathetic light (talented Actress gives up other work only to be thwarted by bad marketing strategies and evil prodcuers) and reminded voters of her performance just before they were set to vote.
And yes, Kelli O’Hara has The King and I already scheduled for next season at Lincoln Center.April 30, 2014 at 9:02 am #432949
At this point in the race, my money would be on Mueller. I adore O’Hara in just about everything she has done professionally in New York over the last ten years, but her show is a flop. After missing out on several key nominations on Tuesday, I look for Bridges to post their closing notice any day now. The show itself most likely will not even be running by the time the Tony Awards ceremony rolls around. I agree that O’Hara should have won in 2005. Unfortunately, she is the Amy Adams of the Tony Awards.April 30, 2014 at 9:46 am #432950
Since they havent announced the closing yet, I think they will keep it open one more week. And attempt to hurry in as many Tony voters as possible during that period. Contractually you must pay actors the full week (ending on sunday) which is why Velocity of Autumn made the decision immediately to end its run on the 4th so as not to go into another week of pay. Its a shame, because I think Bridges deserves more life than its going to get, but unless the producers REALLy want to land O’Hara or JRB a Tony, I dont think they will stomach losing 250,000-300,000 a week much longer.April 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm #432951
They will announce a closing a few weeks in advance of the final performance.April 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm #432952
O’Hara! it’s about time and i bet she makes meryl proudApril 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm #432953
I hope it’s O’Hara because I thought she was amazing. Bridges is so great it’s such a shame it didn’t do better.May 1, 2014 at 5:05 am #432954
I would be happy for either one of them to win, but I am predicting Jessie Mueller. I also believe that Audra McDonald would have won in this category had the nominators placed her in the musical actress category.
I love the clips I have seen of Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin – unfortunately, I couldn’t persuade my partner to see the show ): I hate it when that happens! (;May 1, 2014 at 10:15 am #432955
MuellerMay 1, 2014 at 4:13 pm #432956
Bridges of Madison County is closing May 18: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/bridges-of-madison-county-to-close-on-may-18/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Arts&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body&_r=0May 2, 2014 at 12:28 am #432957
I remember everyone saying Patti would win in 2006, but I was predicting LaChanze from the beginning. She had never won before and was well respected in the community and this was the perfect chance to award her. Plus, it’s a great role (even if reception to The Color Purple as a whole was lukewarm) and Patti’s production was very polarizing.
I say Mueller wins this one. There’s more passion for her show than for Bridges. But if Kelli manages to sneak in a win, that would be WONDERFUL.May 2, 2014 at 8:20 am #432958
Bridges is closing – that definitely seals Mueller’s Tony chances. Plus Beautiful has a Best Musical nomination and is generally loved by critics, nominators and audiences. Mueller is the new kid on the block and deserves this Best Actress gong. O’Hara can win for her Anna in King and I next year which would be equally fitting.May 2, 2014 at 10:13 am #432959
It certainly isnt a positive for O’Hara or JRB, but it doesnt completely seal the deal for their loses. The Broadway Spring Road Conference begins the week of May 12th. Which is why they waited to close it on the 18th. Many of the tour/road presenters who are also Tony voters will be in town and able to see Bridges in its final week of performances. I think its a show that could perform well in regional markets, and with their plan to start a tour in 2015, this is a very strategic move on the producers’ part.