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New Play Announcements Make for Packed Tony Categories

January 20th, 2012

"Peter and the Starcatcher" at NYTW. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re not just going to have a race for Best Play at this year’s Tonys, there’s going to be a multi-car pileup.

This week producers announced that two plays rumored to be opening would in fact make their premieres in the 2011-2012 Broadway theater season. The Pulitzer-winning Clybourne Park will make it’s Broadway bow April 12 at the Walter Kerr and the prequel adventures in Neverland of Peter and the Starcatcher will follow closely behind (and onward til morning) April 15 at the Brooks Atkinson.

Beyond having two very exciting and previously acclaimed shows to see on the Great White Way, it means that this year’s Tony for Best Play (as well as all awards associated with Plays) will be hotly contested. Depending on the eligibility of a few plays (will they rule that Wit and The Road to Mecca are new?), there are a whopping sixteen eligible nominees by my (admittedly quick) count. Of those, I see only one that leaps out as highly unlikely to be in the race: the recently closed triptych of short plays Relatively Speaking. Let’s break the rest down…

"Venus in Fur". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Of the plays that we’ve seen so far this year, I’d say those with the strongest shot at a nomination are:

Still in the hunt depending on their staying power in the mind’s of voters:
Sight unseen, shows yet to open with the buzz or prior acclaim to be strong contenders are:
  • Clybourne Park (Pulitzer!)
  • One Man, Two Guv’nors (a farce but if Boeing! Boeing! won Best Revival why can’t this be in the hunt for Best Play…if it’s deemed “new”)
  • Peter and the Starcatcher (might figure more in directing and design but…)
  • Wit (Pulitzer!)

John Lithgow of "The Columnist". Image via Boneau/Bryan-Brown.

Hard to know at this point but possible:

With only four nomination slots to fill, there should be some real jockeying for position, a nice contrast with a Best Musical category which is feeling like a grab bag of last minute entries hoping to take advantage of a perceived weak field. In addition to the fun of award’s season suspense, the best part of this bounty is the diverse range of plays represented, with work by female playwrights, African American writers and a host of newcomers. So buckle your seatbelts…and see one of the many amazing new plays on Broadway this year!
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