The Top 10 Tony-Nominated Performances to See Now

The Tony Awards are almost here! The Tonys are a celebration of excellence in Broadway theater, and this season’s crop of amazing nominees will make for one contentious evening. Here are ten Tony Award nominees to check out, especially if you want to make spot-on Tony predictions.

Bryan Cranston in Network
The rush to see Bryan Cranston in Network before the Tony Awards is two-fold. First, the Best Actor in a Play nominee is brilliant as anchorman Howard Beale, a character who literally unravels on live television. Second, the Ivan van Hove-directed production of Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Academy Award-winning screenplay is a limited engagement set to close on June 8th, the day before the Tony Awards. This is a dynamic performance you do not want to miss.

Amber Gray in Hadestown
With all due respect to the entire cast of Hadestown, which is wowing audiences every night at the Walter Kerr Theatre, it is Amber Gray who has emerged from the pack as one of the production’s highlights. Gray’s unforgettable turn as the goddess “Persephone,” who is bound to the underworld for six months per year, is an exploding firecracker and a thrill to watch. She also sings one of the show’s most haunting numbers, “I Raise My Cup,” with that rare quality of thoroughly inhabiting the material.

Santino Fontana in Tootsie
When critics talk about “tour de force” performances, what Santino Fontana is achieving in the musical comedy Tootsie is just that. In playing the role of Michael Dorsey, the actor who transforms himself into the actress Dorothy Michaels, Fontana walks a tightrope of having to navigate two essentially different characters, both inhabited by the same person. His eleven o’clock number, “Talk to Me Dorothy,” is a showstopper worthy of the ticket price in and of itself.

Annette Bening in All My Sons
Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see one of Hollywood’s most enduring and oft-celebrated actresses live on the Broadway stage? That is exactly what you will get with Annette Bening, who is starring in the current Roundabout Theatre revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. The star of such films as The Grifters, The American President, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids are All Right gives a riveting performance as the matriarch of a family plagued by sins and secrets. Get yourself to the show soon, though, because All My Sons is a limited engagement that ends June 30th, 2019.

Kelli O’Hara in Kiss Me, Kate!
Speaking of limited engagements from Roundabout Theatre Company, the revival of the Cole Porter musical classic Kiss Me, Kate! is slated to close on June 30 as well. The chief reason not to miss this production? One simply cannot pass up the divinely comedic performance of Tony winner Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) as the tempestuous diva actress Lilli Vanessi and her alter ego, the stinging shrew Katherine. O’Hara also sports a glorious singing voice that wraps around songs like “So In Love” and “Wunderbar” with ethereal gold.

Alex Brightman in Beetlejuice
When Alex Brightman burst onto the scene a few seasons back with his hilarious performance in School of Rock, we all knew he was with us for the long haul. Jump ahead a few seasons, and here he is, at the same theater, playing the macabre and hilariously twisted title role in the Broadway musical Beetlejuice. The character is over-the-top, boisterous, loud and loveable, all of which Brightman has proven he can juggle with aplomb. For this season’s best comedic performance, do not miss him in Beetlejuice.

Stephanie J. Block in The Cher Show
Playing a rock-and-roll icon such as Cher is a daunting task. The possibility of not measuring up to audience expectations never disappears. Stephanie J. Block, however, makes this very difficult task look easy as pie in The Cher Show. Block, who has been Tony-nominated on several occasions, is an eclectic performer who can handle anything that comes her way. Her embodiment of Cher is miraculous, a must-see for anyone who appreciates a chameleon-like theatrical star at the top of her form.

Jeff Daniels in To Kill a Mockingbird
If classic American literature featuring an inspiring story about speaking out against injustice appeals to you, then you can imagine how a live stage performance of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird starring film star Jeff Daniels is apt to thrill. Daniels is giving one of the best reviewed performances of his career playing the iconic role of Atticus Finch, the lawyer and father who teaches the world through his convictions and actions.

Ali Stroker and Mary Testa in Oklahoma!
In this case, we cannot mention one without including the other. Ali Stroker and Mary Testa, both nominated in the Best Featured Actress in a Musical category, share the stage in this invigorating take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Oklahoma! Stroker is an up-and-coming talent who impresses with her big personality, powerhouse belt and how she uses her wheelchair to help create her character of the libidinous Ado Annie Carnes. Mary Testa, a seasoned star of the musical stage, lends her gravitas and on-point comedic timing to the character of the salty Aunt Eller. It is two great performances for the price of one.

Derrick Baskin in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
Stephanie J. Block isn’t the only Tony nominee bringing to life a famous persona of the music world. Derrick Baskin is giving his own dynamic performance as Otis Williams of the music group The Temptations, who are the subject of the jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations. Come see how the talented young men who made up this music group became stars, even as they were processed for mass consumption by the Motown musical scene.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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