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‘August: Osage County’ shoo-in for best play

It's crystal-ball time. I've been wrong before but there always is room for predictions and a wish list of 2008 Tony Award winners, which should include "August: Osage County" for best play.
/ Source: The Associated Press

It's crystal-ball time. I've been wrong before — and I will be wrong again — but there always is room for predictions and a wish list of 2008 Tony Award winners.

The winners in major categories:

Best playWill win: "August: Osage County." Should win: "August: Osage County"

This one isn't even a prediction. It's a sure thing. Tracy Letts' dark comedy of a fractious Oklahoma family already has won every other award in sight. It won't be denied the Tony.

Best musicalWill win: "In the Heights." Should win: "A Catered Affair."

All right, "A Catered Affair" wasn't even nominated, but this spare yet emotion-drenched musical should have been a contender. Listen to the newly released cast recording if you have any doubts. If "Heights" stumbles, "Passing Strange" could get the nod.

Actor-playWill win: Mark Rylance, "Boeing-Boeing." Should win: Mark Rylance, "Boeing-Boeing."

The main competition for Rylance, who plays a delightfully nerdy visitor to Paris in this 1960s sex farce, is Patrick Stewart, who portrayed the Scottish king in "Macbeth." But comedy is harder than tragedy any day.

Actress-playWill win: Deanna Dunagan, "August." Should win: Deanna Dunagan, "August."

Mother knows best, particularly if she is an unrepentant harridan such as the one Dunagan brilliantly pulls off in Letts' Pulitzer Prize winner. But Amy Morton, who portrays Dunagan's most acidulous daughter, is a possibility, too.

Actor-musicalWill win: Paulo Szot, "South Pacific." Should win: Tom Wopat, "A Catered Affair."

Szot is the Cheyenne Jackson (who, unfortunately, wasn't even nominated) of opera. He brings a new chemistry to the relationship between Emile de Becque and nurse Nellie Forbush in this golden oldie. Before he was television's Luke Duke, Wopat was a first-rate, musical-theater performer. And he reconfirms it in "Affair."

Actress-musicalWill win: Patti LuPone, "Gypsy." Should win: Patti LuPone, "Gypsy."

Only Hamlet is a bigger theater role than Rose, the ultimate stage mother in what is possibly the greatest of all American musicals. LuPone climbs this Mount Everest with surprising ferocity. And she never appears out of breath.

Revival-playWill win: "Boeing-Boeing." Should win: "Boeing-Boeing."

The play isn't one for the ages. Heck, it isn't even one for a season, but director Matthew Warchus makes sure every laugh is nailed in this most physical of farces.

Revival-musicalWill win: "South Pacific." Should win: "South Pacific."

No expense has been spared — including using a 30-piece orchestra — in bringing this Rodgers and Hammerstein-Joshua Logan classic back to Broadway. And the opulent expenditure pays off.

Director-playWill win: Anna D. Shapiro, "August." Should win: Anna D. Shapiro, "August."

Actually, the entire cast of "August: Osage County" should get a collective Tony Award. And it was Shapiro who shepherded this fine troupe of actors from Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company to Broadway.

Director-musicalWill win: Bartlett Sher, "South Pacific." Should win: Bartlett Sher, "South Pacific."

Sher gives this lavish Lincoln Center Theater production an emotional grounding rarely achieved in musical theater.