Tony Question #3 - Is this the Best Year of Plays Ever?
While musicals usually dominate the Tony Awards gossip and hype, plays tend to play second fiddle. But if you've been obsessed with wondering who is going to win the musical categories, you've missed looking at one of the most competitive races in recent Tony history, Best Play.
This year's nominees span different settings, themes and address a variety of issues. From obscenity to working-class naturalism to gender to the Israeli-PLO conflict. The shows nominated are Oslo, Sweat, Indecent and A Doll's House Part 2.
All four pieces are not only excellent, I feel that they are some of the best plays written this century and could easily have been the favorite to win the Tony if they were each in different years from each other. To put it in musical theatre perspective, this would be like putting Hamilton in the same category with RENT, Company and Les Miserables. It's that good for a race. How good? Let's take a look.
First you have A Doll's House Part 2, an incredibly risky prospect to bring to the stage to begin with. Not for nothing but how many successful sequels to plays and musicals do you know? But with an impeccable cast, led by the fierce Lauire Metcalf , the show has been a triumph on stage and in the box office. In a crowded acting field, I do expect Metcalf to take home tonight's award. It's also the most nominated play at tonight's ceremony.
Next is Oslo, which so far as been the award darling and my pick to win tonight. In addition to the Drama Desk Awards, it's won the Outer Critics Circle, NY Critics Circle, Obie and the Lortel awards as well. I fully expect the J.T. Rogers play about the back-channel negotiations in the development of the pivotal 1990s Oslo Peace Accords to not only win tonight's award but also to someday win Best Picture at the Oscars.(Calling that now)
Then there's Indecent, Paula Vogel's drama that recounts the controversy surrounding the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, for which the cast of the original production were arrested on the grounds of obscenity. In 2017, the topic of artistic expression is daily debate on social media. Director Rebecca Taichman has already won the Outer Critics Award and would be my pick going into tonight.
Finally, there's Sweat by the incredible Lynn Nottage. The play has already won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Nottage's second ,which has made her the first woman to accomplish that feat. The play focuses on racial tensions in a small Pennsylvania city. I have actress Johanna Day as my pick to win the Featured Actress award tonight. But this could be one of the first times I can remember that a Pulitzer Prize winner is an underdog in its category.
I hope many of you have been able to see these plays over the past year, if not, try to make a point to. A collection of drama this great doesn't come around often.