The Tony Awards this year will be extremely interesting, as most fields are more wide open than they have been in years – the good shows this season have been an embarrassment of riches.

I will analyze all the Musical categories for the 2014 Tony Awards; I am not well-versed enough in the plays to properly predict victors. Full disclosure: I have seen all the musicals with multiple nominations this season except Beautiful and After Midnight (lack of interest), and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (lack of opportunity).

Note that predicting the Tonys is not as much of a science as the Oscars. The only preceding theater awards are the Drama Desks and Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards (and to a minor extent, the Drama League Awards) – all of which honor off-Broadway shows as well so the results are skewed. I have looked at these preceding awards, spoken to lots of theater-goers, and will do my best to predict who will win, along with giving my two cents about who should win.

This season has been unique in that a lot of very good shows opened, but none that appear to be the all-consuming blockbusters of years past. This has led to much more egregious snubbing by the Tonys than usual – If/Then did not get a Best Musical nomination and got snubbed all around (notably for its set and its book), Steven Pasquale was overlooked for Best Actor, and so forth. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (henceforth, “A Gentleman’s Guide”) leads the pack with ten nominations, with Hedwig and the Angry Inch in second place with eight nominations. However, this is no guarantee of triumph on Tony Night – Scottsboro Boys had twelve nominations three years ago, and walked away empty-handed. So, let’s dive in, category by category.

Best Musical
– After Midnight
– Aladdin
– Beautiful
– A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

This is the big prize, the one that every show hopes to win. All four of the nominated shows have at least four other nominations, so it’s clear why voters like them (unlike Bring It On last year, whose nomination is still the most inexplicable thing in recent Tony history).

After Midnight just seems to be a complete nonentity – it’s a glorified revue that no one’s heard anything about. Audiences certainly aren’t having it – this past week, After Midnight’s miniscule theater was only 71% full; the other three shows had more expensive tickets yet still filled their larger theaters to 100% capacity. The Tonys rarely reward shows that aren’t crowdpleasers, so I cannot see After Midnight walking away as the Best Musical.

Past that, things get murky. The Broadway community can only agree on one thing: their collective hatred for jukebox musicals. Jukebox musicals’ relentless success only increases this vitriol, as Rock of Ages has become the go-to punchline upon Spiderman’s demise. However, the community seems to be wholeheartedly embracing Beautiful, the jukebox musical for Carole King songs. The only other jukebox musical to win Best Musical in the last twenty years is Jersey Boys. As flummoxed as I am by this, Beautiful stands a decent chance come June 8th.

The Broadway community also does not seem to think much of Disney’s musicals – the only one to win Best Musical was Lion King. However, Aladdin is their best offering since the one that started it all, Beauty and the Beast. Audience response to the show has been rapturous, with standing ovations reported in the middle of the show. Unlike most of this season’s shows, which feel like they still need quite a bit of work, Disney did not bring Aladdin to Broadway until it was perfected. It would most certainly be my pick for Best Musical; it was the one I enjoyed most this past season.

That leaves A Gentleman’s Guide. The show came out of nowhere and has kept gaining steam as the season went on: it leads in Tony nominations, and it won the Drama Desk, Drama League, and OCC Award for Best Musical. With this much momentum, it may be impossible to stop it. To be frank, I don’t get the hype – it was a perfectly lovely musical, but not of Best Musical caliber. Still, I seem to be in the minority here. Certainly, of the four nominees, this one feels the freshest (compared to a revue, a jukebox musical, and a musical film adaptation). Expect A Gentleman’s Guide to complete its awards sweep come June 8th.

Will Win: A Gentleman’s Guide
Might Win: Beautiful
Should Win: Aladdin

Best Revival
– Hedwig and the Angry Inch
– Les Miserables
– Violet

This race is the closest to being locked out of all the categories; there is absolutely no way Hedwig and the Angry Inch does not win. Hedwig won the Drama Desk, Drama League, and OCC awards in this category, and it’s all anyone is talking about. The show is pretty much sold out for the remainder of its run, and about 200 people attempt the ticket lottery every day. Since I’ve not seen Hedwig, I’ll be rooting for Les Miserables, but I know that’s futile. Since Hedwig has never played Broadway before, this is its first chance to win a Tony for a Best Show category, and it most assuredly will.

Will Win: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Direction

– Warren Carlyle (After Midnight) – also nominated for Best Choreography
– Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) – previously won for Spring Awakening; previously nominated for Thoroughly Modern Millie and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; previously nominated for the play A View From the Bridge
– Leigh Silverman (Violet)
– Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman’s Guide)

This category is a difficult one to predict, and will end up being a toss-up between Mayer for Hedwig and Tresnjak for A Gentleman’s Guide. Silverman does not stand a chance with Violet, since the show is one big squandering of potential. Carlyle is also nominated for his choreography for After Midnight, and might receive that as a consolation prize, but I cannot see him winning for Direction.

So it comes down to Mayer and Tresnjak. Mayer has the experience, and has a Tony already, whereas Tresnjak is making his Broadway debut. The Drama Desks and OCC Awards both gave awards to Tresnjak (who is the only director to be nominated for all three awards this season). Both Gentleman’s Guide and Hedwig have built up a lot of momentum going into the Tonys, and it’s really too close to call. I’ll pick Gentleman’s Guide to win, just because I’ve seen it and know the direction was excellent, but it’s essentially a coin flip at this point.

Will Win: Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman’s Guide)
Might Win: Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

Best Actor
– Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig)
– Ramin Karimloo (Les Miserables)
– Andy Karl (Rocky)
– Jefferson Mays (A Gentleman’s Guide) – previously won for I Am My Own Wife
– Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide)

This season has the most extraordinary Best Actor field in recent memory – even the actors who were snubbed (Steven Pasquale and Norbert Leo Butz, among others) would have walked away with the Tony in most other years. Of the five nominees, it is astounding that there has only been one previous nomination, considering the level of talent.

Bryce Pinkham has the least chance of winning, just because all the Gentleman’s Guide support will go towards Jefferson Mays. He is in the same position as Stark Sands was last year – playing the straight man to a showstopper like Billy Porter. It’s great that he was recognized with a Tony nomination, but he won’t get the award – probably won’t even factor in enough to split the Gentleman’s Guide vote. On the upside, this should cement Pinkham as a leading man on Broadway – previously, he’s only had a small role in Ghost the Musical, and was an understudy in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

I do not know how Ramin Karimloo is as Valjean, since I saw an understudy in the role. However, everyone who has seen him spoke rapturously about his performance. Although this is Karimloo’s Broadway debut, he has been an awards magnet in other cities for his work in musical theater. Unfortunately, the lack of other nominations for Les Miserables (only two others, in Best Sound Design and Best Revival) bodes poorly for Ramin’s chances – there just seems to be a feeling that Les Miserables was not away long enough to necessitate a revival.

The same problem applies to Andy Karl, who is stupendous as the eponymous Rocky. Andy Karl has been working steadily on Broadway for a decade, including small parts in Legally Blonde and 9 to 5, a stint as Fiyero in Wicked, and a fantastic turn as Neville Landless in last year’s Mystery of Edwin Drood. He is long overdue for some Tony recognition, and he essentially carries Rocky the Musical on his shoulders. But Rocky only got three other nominations (Lighting, Set, and Choreography), and is generally being derided by the Broadway community. To some extent I agree – there is just a feeling that Rocky never needed to be a musical. However, Andy Karl’s performance elevates the whole production, and I wish he’d get the Tony.

That leaves the two frontrunners: Neil Patrick Harris and Jefferson Mays. Once again, the two shows with the most momentum. I thought NPH would have this in the bag, since there has been some criticism levied at Mays for rehashing the same trick from his one-man play I Am My Own Wife, where he plays seven different characters. But Mays is getting a last-minute swell of support. Mays won the OCC Award in this category. NPH won the Drama League’s Distinguished Performance Award denoting the best theatrical performance of the season (and when considering other categories in addition to this one, that’s saying something!). Further confusing the race, Mays and NPH tied at the Drama Desks! Ties are exceedingly rare at the Tonys, but there could be one here.

In the end, I give Harris a very slight edge, because his performance is legen-wait for it-dary (couldn’t resist). I wish I could see it. But in a year like this, it really is an honor just to be nominated.

Will Win: Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Might Win: Jefferson Mays (A Gentleman’s Guide)
Should Win: Andy Karl (Rocky)

Best Actress
– Mary Bridget Davies (A Night with Janis Joplin)
– Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) – previously nominated for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
– Idina Menzel (If/Then) – previously won for Wicked; previously nominated for Rent
– Kelli O’Hara (Bridges of Madison County) – previously nominated for Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific, The Pajama Game, and The Light in the Piazza
– Sutton Foster (Violet) – previously won for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes; previously nominated for Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Shrek

In contrast to the Best Actor category, Best Actress includes some of the most decorated musical theater actresses working today – eleven previous Tony nominations, three of them wins. I’m sure Mary Bridget Davies was great as Janis Joplin – her nomination is the only one for any of the four shows that closed before nominations. But she is a nonentity in this race – from the get-go, it was a four-woman race between Jessie, Kelli, Idina, and Sutton. Each one has a stupendous starring role that got nominated for every major theater award… but only one can win.

The one that almost certainly won’t is Sutton Foster. Violet is a terrible showcase for her talent – there isn’t really any dancing, and the music could be sung by anyone with a decent voice. Besides, she already has two Tonys, one of which she won only two years ago.

Idina Menzel would be my choice, because she gives one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen, in one of the most demanding roles I’ve ever seen. She is almost never offstage during If/Then, and she has to portray two different characters. Everyone agrees that If/Then is essentially “Idina Menzel the Musical” – Idina carries the entire show. In fact, I’m very curious what will happen to the show when Idina leaves.

Despite all that, from what I can tell the frontrunners are Jessie Mueller and Kelli O’Hara. Mueller has been on stage almost constantly in the last few years, with roles in Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nice Work If You Can Get It (which she took over from Kelli O’Hara, ironically). Ever since she debuted as Carole King and elevated the show from a jukebox musical to a respected piece of theater, there has been Tony buzz for her. By all accounts, she is brilliant and carries the show, and she did win the Drama Desk Award. (The OCC Award went to Audra McDonald, who thankfully is not in this category at the Tonys.)

But then there is Kelli O’Hara. This is O’Hara’s fifth nomination, and she is really overdue for a win. If any role will get her a Tony, it should be this one. Bridges of Madison County was written specifically with her in mind as the lead, and then delayed until she could star in it. The role is one of the most challenging, with the score supremely difficult, and accent that has to be maintained, and a gamut of emotions that has to be conveyed. This could also be where Tony voters decide to reward the underappreciated Bridges of Madison County.

It’s incredibly close between O’Hara and Mueller, but I think in the end O’Hara will come out on top. Primarily because the common sentiment seems to be that she should really have a Tony by now, and this role is the best she’s ever performed in. Mueller will certainly have plenty of other opportunities to bring home a Tony. But this race is definitely one to watch.

Will Win: Kelli O’Hara (Bridges of Madison County)
Might Win: Jessie Mueller (Beautiful)
Should Win: Idina Menzel (If/Then)

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The Harry Potter play Cursed Child opens in a week, and we’ve just got our first look at Ginny Potter née Weasley. But not everyone is impressed.

Harry Potter fans have long ago resigned themselves to the fact that Ginny Weasley, badass Quidditch superstar and Voldemort possession survivor, is doomed to exist on the fringes of the story.

Despite her undiluted badassery, Ginny floated on the edge of canon throughout the Harry Potter book series, and for this reason, there are unfortunately many fans who simply don’t see Ginny as anything other than Harry’s only heterosexual ticket into the OBHWF.

But while Hermione Granger (rightfully) takes up most of the spotlight as far as female representation is concerned, J.K. Rowling actually created an equally important female character in Ginny Weasley, despite — or maybe because — of her absence from Harry’s part of the story.

Related: 9 reasons why Ginny Weasley’s cooler than the movies give her credit for

Reading the book saga closely will reveal that Ginny Weasley was actually better than everyone (and she knew it). And the fact that she got to be such a quietly confident BAMF, without Harry ever being consciously aware of it (though clearly it made an impression!), definitely meant a lot to me as a young girl growing up Potter.

Ginny may not have been the Chosen One, or the Chosen One’s best friend, but she kicked ass — and continued to kick ass — whether or not anyone gave her credit for it.

Let’s recap the awesomeness of Ginny Weasley:

  • Ron may have been Harry’s best friend, but his little sister was the seventh Weasley child and the first girl in seven generations. Talk about your magic number!
  • By all accounts, she was an immensely powerful witch: Growing up with six brothers made her resilient and hard-working, and she seemed to have the same extraordinary raw talent as Fred and George (but she applied herself more).
  • She was possessed by Voldemort in her first year at Hogwarts, literally making her the only person even remotely qualified to understand what Harry was going through. This came to a head in Order of the Phoenix, when it was Ginny of all people who stood up to Harry and told him that he was being stupid.
  • She overcame her crush on Harry and went on to have a rich and interesting social life which didn’t involve him. When Harry finally noticed and fell in love with her, she didn’t let that slow her down.
  • She stood up for both Neville and Luna, clearly cool and self-confident enough not to care what anyone thought of her companions (unlike Harry, who was far more judgemental towards both Luna and Neville).
  • She was a professional Quidditch player, even taking Harry’s place as Seeker for a while before landing a spot as Chaser while still at Hogwarts.

For all this, Ginny never really amounted to the ‘fourth member of the trio’ fans might have hoped for ahead of Deathly Hallows. She didn’t join Harry, Ron and Hermione on the Horcrux hunt (solely because Harry wanted to ‘protect’ her), and yet her badassery continued to assert itself behind the scenes, as she joined Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts and fought in the ensuing battle.

To me, it always felt like the essence of Ginny, the soul of this character, simply would not be repressed no matter how much J.K. Rowling tried to bench her (and the benching in itself was not an issue; Ginny was never meant to be a main character, and as laid out above, it actually worked to her benefit).

Ginny Harry 2

But unfortunately, the Harry Potter movies have done a lot to undo the subtle ways in which Rowling empowered Ginny between the lines. With Ginny’s value in the story mostly inferred rather than expressly stated, it clearly became as easy of a subplot to trim away as Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.

Ginny had hardly any presence in the movies at all, peaking in Chamber of Secrets (because they couldn’t completely ignore her in that one) and otherwise having only a few scattered, out-of-context moments of empowerment that still paled in comparison to the material given to characters like Fred and George, Draco, Luna, and Neville. Heck, even made-up character Nigel had more of a presence in the movies than Ginny did.

And of course it didn’t help that Bonnie Wright (who is a talented actress — check out After the Dark and see for yourself) had no chemistry with Dan Radcliffe, and that they gave the best Harry/Ginny moment of the series to Ron/Lavender for some inexplicable reason.

But still she married Harry, and still they had three kids (all of whom were named after people important to Harry, but alright). The One Big Happy Weasley Family prophecy came true, and all was well…

Until now. (Dun dun dunnn.)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens for previews in London next week, and everyone’s excited for the trio and their kids to return. Once again Ginny is getting second billing, not being announced as part of the main cast, but rather revealed a week before the show opens, along with a photograph of Poppy Miller in character:

ginny_potter_poppy_miller

There’s also a family portrait of Ginny, Harry and their son Albus, with Ginny holding on to her youngest son protectively (there’s that mother’s love again), kicking us in the feels because it’s pretty much exactly what Harry saw when he looked into the Mirror of Erised:

l-r Harry Potter (Jamie Parker), Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett), Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller)

And I actually love this. I love that Ginny is included (especially since, um, Harry’s other two kids are nowhere to be seen), front and center by Harry’s side.

As far as her clothes go, no, I’m not a fan. They remind me too much of movie-Ginny’s getup in the epilogue, and it’s just not what I’d imagine she’d wear. But it’s just an outfit; it doesn’t actually tell us anything about Ginny’s role in the play, so I’m not too worried about that.

What I am worried about is the fact that she’d be revealed here as part of Harry’s Erised fantasy. It’s doubtless we’ll see more character reveals over the coming days, and Harry will likely factor into more constellations (notably the Ron-Hermione-Harry group photo we’re all waiting for). Ginny probably won’t.

I’m worried that Ginny’s role in this story will amount to being Harry’s wife and Albus’ mom. Not that J.K. Rowling hasn’t full well established that The Power of Motherhood pretty much overrules everything else, but that’s not what Ginny is — or, rather, that’s not all she is. As much as I love Molly Weasley, Ginny represented a different kind of female character. I hope the play stays true to that.

ginny

As a long-time Ginny fan used to everyone overlooking and under-utilizing this fantastic character, I’m just desperately hoping now that the eighth Harry Potter story will give us the Ginny we know from the books, rather than her inferior on-screen counterpart. While Cursed Child isn’t and shouldn’t be about her, I’m hoping this is Ginny’s chance to reclaim some of the agency the movies robbed her of.

And call me an optimist, but I’m hopeful that this is exactly what Cursed Child is gonna give us. I trust that J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany don’t let the movies’ depiction of Ginny influence what is supposed to be the next installment of the book series.

In J.K. Rowling’s own words on Pottermore, Poppy Miller’s Ginny will be, “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.” It’s not the bat-bogey hexing firecracker we know and love, but hey, everyone grows up, right? So even if we get just a couple of scenes with Ginny, let’s presume she’ll be her badass, Quidditch player self, and that she’ll be given space to exist in her own right, rather than as a prop in Harry’s perfect family.

She may not have been the most important character in Harry Potter, but she was my favorite, and Cursed Child has an opportunity to undo the damage the movies did to this fantastic, empowering heroine. Let’s hope they take it.

Are you looking forward to seeing Ginny Potter in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’?

Ever since ABC canceled Agent Carter, fans have been fighting to bring it back. Now, Hayley Atwell has joined the fight as well.

Agent Carter‘s cancellation left its fans devastated, but — just like Peggy Carter herself — they’re not about to give up without a fight.

ABC’s decision to cut ties with the ailing show, as well as choosing not to pick up Marvel’s Most Wanted, allegedly came as part of a programming overhaul led by new entertainment chief Channing Dungey. According to ScreenRant, Dungey wants to move away from serialized programming in favor of “close-ended episodic procedurals.”

But Agent Carter doesn’t need ABC. Agent Carter needs fan support, a new home, and some goodwill from Marvel.

It’s definitely got plenty of fans fighting for its renewal, with the Change.org petition Save Agent Carter having amassed over 110,000 signatures to date, and many other fan projects in the works to spread awareness for the show.

And, during a panel at MegaCon in Orlando over the weekend, star Hayley Atwell confirmed that she’d be down to reprise her role if the opportunity arose.

“YES. 100%. I love Peggy. I love the people working on this project. [It would be] a privilege and an honor to bring her back to the fans,” said Atwell, as quoted on Twitter. “I’d shoot on the weekends. Blue serum. Whatever it takes.”

Atwell isn’t the only star lending their voice to the movement. Bridget Regan (Dottie Underwood) RT’d the aforementioned petition on Twitter, and also wrote this short but important message:

Meanwhile Lotte Verbeek (Anna Jarvis) and Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) both attended the MCM London Comic-Con, and both had heartening words for Agent Carter fans.

Via Comic Book Resources, Verbeek told panel attendees, “You guys were just amazing supporting it and I’m sorry it got canceled. I feel like we’re kinda letting you guys down — but it wasn’t my decision, unfortunately.”

Cooper, arguably the most ‘unavailable’ of the bunch, has also confirmed that not only would he be down to reprise his role as Howard Stark, but he also sees “hope” for the cancelled series.

“There may be more story to tell, and what’s wonderful about streaming sites is that while it may have been the end of the road, now there’s hope that it might not be,” Cooper said during MCM (as quoted by CBR).

“I know James [D’Arcy] and Hayley, the fact that people have gotten behind it and want to see it return means a huge amount to them … I’m well up for doing more Howard Stark and I know they’re up for doing more of their characters, so fingers crossed.”

Related: Thank you, Agent Carter

But actor goodwill aside, the question still remains: Will a streaming site, whether it be Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, actually pick up Agent Carter?

It seems to us that, if nothing else, a one-off special (similar to the 2013 short that landed Peggy her TV series in the first place) or a limited series wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility — if Marvel actually acknowledges Peggy’s continued importance to the MCU, even after her canonical death in Captain America: Civil War.

Saving Agent Carer would be fan service in the most positive sense of the words, giving us the wrap-up Peggy’s story deserves and proving that Marvel, if not ABC, knows her value.

Here’s to more Agent Carter! Make it happen, TPTB!

Dan Aykroyd loves the new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie

As the "originator of the original," let's listen to him.

6:31 am EDT, May 31, 2016

Dan Aykroyd, star and creator of the original Ghostbusters, has seen the 2016 reboot. And he liked it.

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!”

This is what Dan Aykroyd wrote on his Facebook page. Evidently, he is very pleased with Paul Feig’s re-imagining of his 1980s comedy classic.

And this isn’t the first time he’s offered endorsement of the contentious reboot (which Aykroyd is also producing and cameoing in). Earlier this year, he wrote on Twitter:

Despite everyone and their father already having made up their minds about this particular reboot, all we’ve actually had to go on so far have been a few trailers, Paul Feig and the cast’s infectious enthusiasm, and generalized opinions about Hollywood reboots/the cast.

But now that test screenings are beginning to roll out, we can finally begin to get a real sense of what this movie is actually gonna be like.

And if anyone’s opinion should hold some clout, it’s Dan Aykroyd’s. He not only starred as one of the original Ghostbusters, but came up with the concept and co-wrote both of the previous films.

Of course his comments haven’t gone over well with everyone. When he says it has “more laughs and more scares” than Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 combined, many people have taken that to mean that he thinks the new one is better than the original — but it’s worth noting that that’s not actually what he said.

Related: New Ghostbusters trailer updates the title to Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

The original Ghostbusters (if not its sequel) was a masterpiece, and Aykroyd isn’t suggesting anything different. He’s merely suggesting that there’s a higher quantity of funny and scary scenes in the reboot. Which, knowing Paul Feig (who blew us away with Bridesmaids and Spy), makes a lot of sense.

The important takeaway here is that Aykroyd seems to genuinely enjoy the new Ghostbusters movie. Regardless of your feelings on the original, the new one can still be fantastic, and if anyone would know, it’d be Aykroyd.

At the end of the day, the new movie really is a win-win for fans — it’s an excuse to dust off our old merchandise, and we’ll get to see an exciting new team take on the iconic monsters. July can’t come soon enough!

‘Ghostbusters’ premieres July 15, 2016