Davis, Butz, Gallagher Jr. among actors considered leads
A few unexpectedly eligible contenders could jump into the Tony category for original score, thanks to a ruling from the Tony Awards Administration Committee. Org also named Viola Davis, Norbert Leo Butz and John Gallagher Jr. among the thesps deemed eligible for noms in lead acting categories.
In pre-nom speculation about the Tony race for score, legiters have assumed there would be only two eligible productions, “The Addams Family” and “Memphis.” (Most of this season’s tuners draw their music from pre-existing albums or musician catalogs, including “American Idiot,” “Come Fly Away” and “Fela!”)
But three more contenders for a nom come from the season’s play lineup. Branford Marsalis’ original music for the revival of “Fences” and Maury Yeston’s songs for the fall staging of “The Royal Family” have been deemed eligible for score, as has the soundtrack for multimedia play-with-tunes “Enron” (with music by Adam Cork and lyrics by playwright Lucy Prebble).
The ruling on Davis, who co-stars in “Fences” with Denzel Washington, reps a change in status for the role she plays. In the show’s 1987 Broadway preem, Mary Alice — who played Rose, the wife of a frustrated baseball player, the part now played by Davis — won a Tony in the featured actress category.
Shift came in the wake of a request from the producers of the play, which in this production focuses more clearly on the marriage between the characters portrayed by Davis and Washington.
Butz was deemed the lead in the ensemble of “Enron,” in which he appears as chief schemer Jeffrey Skilling, while Gallagher Jr. was singled out as the central disaffected youth in tuner “American Idiot.”
The Tony admin committee meets four times every season to determine exceptions to award eligibility norms. Guidelines put above-the-title thesps in the lead actor categories while below-the-title are considered for featured roles.
In other rulings, Linda Lavin will be considered a lead actress in the revival of play “Collected Stories,” while the three best-known cast members of tuner “Sondheim on Sondheim” — Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat — will be considered for featured acting categories thanks to the ensemble-based nature of the show. Also joining the pool of thesps eligible for featured-role noms are Eddie Redmayne of “Red” and Anthony LaPaglia of “Lend Me a Tenor.”
Although “Collected Stories” is playing its first Broadway run, it will be eligible as a revival in the wake its successful Off Broadway engagements in the late 1990s.
In the fourth and final meeting of the 2009-10 season, admin committee considered elgibility questions for a total of thirteen productions. Season’s noms are announced May 4.