Like the Oscars, the Tony Awards are preceded each year by a bevy of award shows that renders the main event something of a foregone conclusion.
This Broadway season, many of the front-runners have become clear relatively quickly, with the big-top-themed revival of “Pippin” and the new play “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang expected to prevail on Tony night.
Both productions took home the top honors in their categories on Sunday at the Drama Desk Awards, held at Town Hall in New York. They also won big at the Drama League Awards held Friday at the Marriott Marquis.
Durang’s play debuted at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey last year and then off-Broadway at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater before transferring to Broadway this year at the John Golden Theatre.
The comedy, which stars Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce, was also named the season’s best play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle earlier this month.
“Pippin,” a revival of the 1972 Stephen Schwartz musical, is a production from American Repertory Theatre in Massachusetts. The company brought “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” to Broadway last season. Both revivals were directed by Diane Paulus.
In the musical category, it’s a race between two British-flavored productions -- “Matilda,” the family-friendly Royal Shakespeare Company import based on the Roald Dahl book, and “Kinky Boots,” the adaptation of the 2005 British movie about a drag queen who saves a shoe factory.
“Matilda” won the award for new musical at the Drama Desk Awards on Sunday, while “Kinky Boots” took home the equivalent honor on Friday at the Drama League. “Matilda” may have a slight edge because it was also honored at the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and picked up seven Olivier Awards in 2012 for its London run.
The category for revival of a play has so far been dominated by Edward Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" which has taken home prizes from the Drama Desk and the Drama League.
In the acting categories, Cicely Tyson seems a shoo-in for the revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful.” The veteran performer won the Drama Desk award for actress in a play on Sunday.
Nathan Lane is a favorite to win another Tony for his performance in “The Nance,” but he has competition from Tracy Letts in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
The Tony Awards ceremony is set for June 9 at Radio City Music Hall and is to be broadcast on CBS.