Fifteen new works are in contention for the four Best Play slots at this year’s Tony Awards.
Seven of the potential nominees have opened and four of these — “Chinglish,” “The Mountaintop,” “Relatively Speaking,” and “Stick Fly” — will have been closed for months before Tony nominees are announced on May 2.
Of these, “Chinglish” has the best chance for a bid. Written by Tony winner David Henry Hwang, this story of a Midwesterner who travels to China in the hopes of saving his family’s sign-making business received critical acclaim but didn’t connect with audiences and closed after 128 performances.
“The Mountaintop” starred Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett as Martin Luther King, Jr. and a hotel maid who comes into his life the night before he is assassinated. Katori Hall‘s debut won the Olivier for Best Play two years ago.
“Relatively Speaking” is a collection of three one-act comedies by Oscar champs Ethan Coen and Woody Allen and Oscar nominee Elaine May. Not even the combined talents of the writers and the starry cast, which included four-time Emmy Award winner Marlo Thomas and two-time Emmy champ Julie Kavner, could not draw positive attention from critics or audiences and it closed after 153 performances.
“Stick Fly” is about an affluent African-American family forced to confront issues of race, class, sibling rivalry when their son arrives at their vacation home with his fiancee. Lydia R. Diamond‘s play received generally poor reviews and closed after 92 performances.
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“Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz transferred to the rialto after an acclaimed off Broadway run last season. The cast is led by Tony and Emmy champ Stockard Channing as a well-to-do woman whose placid life is threatened by her daughter’s planned memoir.
“Seminar,” a comedy from Peabody and WGA winner Theresa Rebeck, stars Tony nominee Alan Rickman as a mercurial writer who tutors four students with varying results.
“Venus in Fur” has the advantage of opening twice on Broadway this season: once in November for a limited run, and again in February for another limited run through June 17. David Ives explores the the lines between seduction and power in this behind-the-scenes look at an audition. Nina Arianda, who received her first Tony nomination last season for “Born Yesterday,” and Hugh Dancy star.
As for those plays yet to open, one stands out as a clear frontrunner: “Clybourne Park,” which won both the Pulitzer and the Olivier. Borrowing elements from “A Raisin in the Sun,” Bruce Norris explores race relations and gentrification in the changing face of a Chicago neighborhood.
David Auburn, who won the Tony and Pulitzer for “Proof”, returns with “The Columnist” starring Tony and Emmy winner John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop, the powerful political pundit.
Tony champ Linda Lavin stars as a headstrong mother who gathers her adult children at the side of their ailing father in Nicky Silver‘s serio-comic “The Lyons.”
Two-time Olivier Award winner Tracie Bennett portrays Judy Garland in Peter Quilter‘s “End of the Rainbow“, which is coming to Broadway from the West End.
Also transferring from London is “One Man Two Guvnors“, Richard Bean‘s comedy starring James Corden as a hapless fellow working for both a mob boss and an escaped prisoner.
“Dont Dress for Dinner” is Marc Camoletti’s sequel to his Tony-winning farce “Boeing-Boeing” and arrives on Broadway after countless local productions.
“Magic Bird“, written by Tony nominated director Eric Simonson, details the professional friendship and rivalry between NBA stars Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Last year, another sport-themed play — “Lombardi” — reaped only one acting bid.
And in his one-man show, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It,” Emmy winner William Shatner takes audiences on a trip through his colorful life and career.
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