Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Races to Watch at the Tonys Tonight Could Audra Mcdonald Be the First to Win in 4 Acting Categories?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Races to Watch at the Tonys Tonight Could Audra Mcdonald Be the First to Win in 4 Acting Categories?

Article excerpt

Presenting: What to watch for when the 68th annual Tony Awards ceremony is telecast live at 8 tonight on CBS. A 90-minute preshow, including red-carpet arrivals, will be streamed live by NY1.com.

Race to the finish: Cherry Jones vs. Audra McDonald is the championship bout of these Tonys. Ms. Jones, a Carnegie Mellon University alum, seemed like a cinch in the months leading up to the awards show, with her glowing turn as Amanda Wingfield in the revival of "The Glass Menagerie." Then along came Tony darling McDonald in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill," with a spot-on Billie Holiday.

A win for the play would make the Divine Ms. McDonald the lone owner of an acting sweep. She already has best actress in a musical ("The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"); best featured actress in a musical ("Ragtime"; "Carousel"); and best featured actress in a play ("A Raisin in the Sun"). Ms. Jones has two Tonys of her own, as the star of "Doubt" (2005) and "The Heiress" (1995).

* Love for "Gentleman": "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" leads the pack in nominations with 10, including one for best musical in the oddly short category of just four. Here's the rule that KO'd "Rocky" and "Bullets Over Broadway":

"Where there are nine or more eligible shows in a Best Show category ... the Tony Nominating Committee will be instructed to cast one vote each for four eligible shows as nominees on his/her secret ballot. Such ballot shall be collected and tabulated by a representative of the Accounting Firm. The four eligible shows with the highest number of votes will automatically be the nominees in such category. The Accounting Firm will determine if a fifth nominee shall be added to the category in the event that the difference in votes between the fourth highest ranked show and the fifth highest ranked show is three votes or less."

* Opening number: It will be hard to top last year, when host Neil Patrick Harris literally jumped through a hoop to lead a team of dozens through a song-and-dance extravaganza. Tonight he is a nominee for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," while Hugh Jackman returns for his fourth stint as emcee. The two have performed a Tonys number together before, and here's hoping for a Harris-Jackman encore.

* Local connections I: Last year's Carnegie Mellon showing - eight winners, including Billy Porter and Patina Miller - isn't in the cards, but alum Sutton Foster is a nominee for "Violet" this year, Leigh Silverman is up for her direction of "Violet," and producers Paula Wagner ("Mothers & Sons") and Jamie DeRoy ("Gentleman's Guide") have shows in the race. …

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