Our 6 Biggest Questions About This Year's Tony Awards
Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M.
It's that time of year again. The Tony Awards are this weekend, and frankly, we can't decide on which performance we're most excited to see—Andy Blankenbuehler's swing-infused Bandstand choreography? Whatever the kooky-cool Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 cast has up their old-fashioned sleeves (and, by default, Josh Groban's golden pipes)? Best Actor in a Musical favorites Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) and Andy Karl (Groundhog Day) duking it out? Can the answer just be yes, all of the above?
In contrast to last year's Hamilton-mania, there's a sea of new musicals vying for the top prizes (with no clear front runners except for in a couple of key categories), and most of them are prepping what are sure to be fantastic performances. (Not to worry, Hamilfans: Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to present, and Leslie Odom Jr. is on the performer list.) In a way, the uncertainty is making for an even more exciting buildup to the Tonys than usual. Here are six of our biggest questions going into this year's ceremony.
What will the opening number look like?
The Tonys struggled to find a host this year before finally landing on Kevin Spacey. The Oscar-winning actor is an unconventional choice—he's generally known more for dry humor than the song-and-dance antics that have defined past hosts such as James Corden, Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman. So what does this mean for the opening number? Maybe they'll go with something similar to this year's Oscars, when Justin Timberlake opened the night with a live performance of his Best Original Song nomination. Or maybe a Groundhog Day–inspired spoof with Spacey repeating the lead-up to the ceremony over and over again? Whatever they've decided, it's the Tonys—it has to be fabulous.
Will Andy Blankenbuehler take home another Tony for his choreography?
Andy Blankenbuehler. Photo by Rachel Papo.
He may have missed out on a direction nod, but the Hamilton choreographer is once again nominated for his moves, this year in Bandstand. Sam Pinkleton is another strong contender after getting the entire theater moving in Great Comet. Also in the ring: Kelly Devine (Come From Away), Denis Jones (Holiday Inn), and Peter Darling and Ellen Kane (Groundhog Day).
Are we actually going to see the Best Choreography award this year?
The London cast of Groundhog Day in rehearsal. Photo by Manuel Harlan, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
A bone to pick with the Tonys broadcast: A number of awards are handed out during commercial breaks due to time constraints, and Best Choreography for a Musical is typically one of them. These choreographers are a HUGE part of what makes the performances during the telecast so much fun—so why not let them get their nods on air? *steps off soap box*
How will Great Comet transfer to a more conventional stage?
The cast of Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812. Photo by Evgenia Elisseva, Courtesy Matt Ross PR.
The staging at the Imperial Theatre has audience members onstage and cast members in the aisles, the balcony and several platforms that wind through the orchestra seats—and the performers engage with nearby audience members constantly. So how will they take Sam Pinkleton's energetic choreography and move it to Radio City's more traditional space for the show's (rumored) medley? We have absolutely no idea, though we suspect there will be a lot of dancing in the aisles.
Will Bette Midler sing?
Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! Photo by Julieta Cervantes, via playbill.com.
Okay, so the star of the Hello, Dolly! revival is undoubtedly taking home Best Actress in a Musical (barring a massive upset, of course), but rumor has it that she won't be performing with the cast.
Who will get Best New Musical?
Come From Away. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Co.
Unlike last year, when Hamilton was obviously going to sweep, there's no clear favorite amongst this year's nominees. According to The New York Times, it'll be a toss-up between Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away, both emotionally affecting musicals on unlikely topics (a teenager's sudden popularity after a classmate's suicide; the interactions between the residents of a small town in Canada and airline passengers grounded there on 9/11). But who knows: Great Comet or Groundhog Day could produce a surprise upset.
You can tune in to the 2017 Tony Awards this Sunday at 8/7c on CBS.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.