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Musical numbers have long been an integral part of South Park over the years, so it comes as no surprise that masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the odds-on favorites to sweep this Sunday's Tony Awards with their real-life tuner, The Book of Mormon.
With apologies to a certain webslinger, E! News has the lowdown on the duo's chances and other big stories that will likely dominate the ceremony, which will be hosted by the always congenial Neil Patrick Harris and air live on CBS.
1. Parker and Stone, along with cocreator Robert Lopez, lead all rivals with a mind-boggling 14 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction, and a slew of acting and technical nods, for their widely praised production satirizing a pair of youthful Salt Lake City missionaries traipsing through Uganda.
But will they break The Producers' record 12 Tony wins? Time will tell. But we've asked Michael Dansicker, a veteran Broadway musical director, arranger and composer who's worked with the likes of Jerome Robbins (Fiddler on the Roof) and Twyla Tharp (the Bob Dylan musical The Times They Are A-Changin'), to help us with some predictions.
For starters, The Book of Mormon has already racked up Outstanding Musical, Music, and Lyrics at the Drama Desk Awards. That's in addition to earning Best Musical at the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards; Distinguished Production of a Musical at the Drama League Awards; and Best Actor in a Musical for star Josh Gad, Best Director for Casey Nicholaw and Parker, Best New Broadway Musical and Best New Score at the Outer Critics Circle Awards.
But according to Dansicker, where Mormon could face some stiff competition is in the Best Choreography and Best Original Score departments. Anything Goes director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall has been building lots of momentum in the choreography department with the enthusiastic reception her revival received after its opening in April. As for score, in the composer's opinion, the nostalgia factor could aid The Scottsboro Boys, which features the last score by legendary duo John Kander and Fred Ebb (Ebb died in 2004). However, he thinks it would be hard to justify a win for Best Musical without a top score Tony.
2. Speaking of upsets, keep an eye out for Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem upending Nick Stafford's drama War Horse. The latter, which won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, is a puppetry extravaganza that will be getting the big-screen treatment from Steven Spielberg later this year and tells the epic tale of a boy searching for his horse during World War I. But Butterworth's West End import has earned major kudos largely on the strength of Mark Rylance's Tony-nominated performance as Johnny "Rooster" Byron, a modern day carouser who holds a series of drug and alcohol-fueled parties in the English woods.
3. In the race for Leading Actor in a Musical, Dansicker points to Norbert Leo Butz as the favorite for his hilarious take F.B.I. Agent Carl Hanratty (played by Tom Hanks in the film) in the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can. But he doesn't rule out the possibility that the show's middling reviews and the fact that there are two Mormon stars nominated could prompt Tony voters to give the trophy to Aussie Tony Sheldon for Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
"Both guys from Mormon are nominated in the same category and neither role is as flashy as their competitor's work in Catch or Priscilla. . .so the thought is the vote will split and cancel each other out," said Dansicker. "So I am thinking Priscilla's leading man!"
For Leading Actor in a Play, insiders give the advantage to The Normal Heart's Joe Mantello, who starred in Broadway's Angels in America back in 1994 but is more noted these days among Tony voters for directing Wicked. However Dansicker said not to discount Al Pacino's star power for his riveting performance in the Public Theater revival of The Merchant of Venice.
4. For Leading Actress in a Musical, Dansicker is placing his bets with Anything Goes star Sutton Foster, though he notes there's a feeling among Broadway types that she's miscast and Patina Miller of Sister Act may have a shot.
Leading Actress in a Play looks to be a dead heat among a pair of Hollywood icons—Frances McDormand for Good People and Vanessa Redgrave for Driving Miss Daisy. The edge goes to McDormand, who received recognition for an outstanding performance in what many perceive to be a challenging work versus Redgrave's turn in a more commercial production. Look for Lily Rabe to be a dark horse for her role as Portia in Merchant.
5. Ellen Barkin, meanwhile, is a veritable shoo-in for Featured Actress in a Play for The Normal Heart, says Dansicker, though we wouldn't rule out Edie Falco's turn in the revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves. He also predicts The Normal Heart's Benjamin Hickey has a good chance of walking off with the Featured Actor prize over such thesps as Billy Crudup for Arcadia and Arian Moayed for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.
6. Last, but not least, it's not the Great White Way without lots of glamourous stars and plenty of razzle-dazzle. This year's Tonys will no doubt kick off with a rollicking opening number from NPH, a mere prelude to the host of performances from the casts of all the nominated musicals, as well as those without noms (ahem, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark).
Among those taking the stage will be John Leguizamo to do a bit from his one-man show, Ghetto Klown; the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert; and the all-star cast of the New York Philharmonic's limited run of Company featuring Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Katie Finneran, Christina Hendricks, and Patti Lupone.
And while Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe may have been snubbed for his acclaimed performance in the Broadway revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Dansicker noted that the crowd will undoubtedly go nuts for his live Tony performance (if they're still paying attention after all the Spidey jokes, that is).
Given the award ceremony's continued nosedive in the ratings every year (it snagged a meager 7 million viewers in 2010, a far cry from the Oscars' annual 37 million-plus), Radcliffe's participation should at least ensure some new mudbloods tune in.
What say you, Potter fans?