Chris' Tony Predictions (call it rooting)

Sunday, 13 June 2010 11:54 AM Written by

As usual, I've prepped by seeing what shows I could -- only about half, though they earned about 2/3 of the nominations -- then reading whatever predictions columns came my way. Then I let it slosh around in my mind before setting to work.

As always, there's a conflict between what we think will win, what ought to win and what we're rooting for. (Yes, theater critics root. Even sportswriters root, no matter how bipartisan they pretend to be.)

This year, the kicker is my rooting interest in August Wilson's "Fences," which set a record for a play of 10 nominations. It won't win them all, but I'd like to see it win more than half, and I think it has a good shot.

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Today's Tony predictions are by Gwen Orel, our sometimes NYC theater critic correspondent. I hope to get my own predictions published here before I head to NY on Sunday to cover the event, reporting from backstage and (afterwards) from the "Fences" party. But first, Gwen, with her splendid "Girl Bonus" notes. -- Chris Rawson

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First off: For the PG readers Tony Awards predictions contest (deadline June 9; awards June 13), scroll down to my previous blog post or click here

Kelly Awards

Once again, the Gene Kelly Awards (last Saturday, Benedum Center) was one of the best theater nights of the year. I might even call it the best, in the sense that it's dependably great. Most years a couple of other theater evenings soar higher, but only because of the special conjunction of play and production. No, the Kellys can't stand up to a great Shakespeare or August Wilson -- I'm not out of my mind. But the array of nigh school talent on display at the Kellys is invariably a high all by itself, without any special conjunction of play, cast and creative leadership. It always succeeds.

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Did you see many shows on Broadway this year?

If not, don't fret! Experience proves that actually seeing the shows and knowing what you're talking about -- or even worse, having strong feelings about what ought to win and what should absolutely not -- can seriously impact your ability to predict winners.

And that's the name of this game: predict the winners in all 26 categories that will be announced on June 13. For the full list of nominations, click here, So step right up, any one can enter, no experience necessary, void only in households where theater is not given the respect it deserves.

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The premiere of a new theater collective, "Casino Liberty" is ideological vaudeville, didactic street theater and warm-hearted satire. Its 90 minutes of varied entertainment and political commentary are variously successful but chockablock with good intentions, based on research, recent news and interviews on the street corners of East Liberty.'Casino Pittsurgh' cast. Credit: John Altdorfer.

Appropriately, it's staged at 'Sliberty's Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. And if you've stumbled on this online-only review on Saturday, you have just two chances to see it, 8 p.m. tonight or 5 p.m. tomorrow.

It's created by an ensemble (that being the theater word for the civic community it celebrates) that has a way with titles, starting with that of the group, Pittsburgh PACT. That's an acronym for Public Action Communitarian Theatre, which has a community action or even hectoring tone about it, but those determined Good Intentions are offset by the less didactic implication of "pact" -- the implication that the group has a pact with Pittsburgh.

Gab Cody spins the wheel of community issues. Photo: John Altdorfer.There's also an obvious double meaning in the name of the show. To me, "Casino Liberty" first suggests the random chance involved in the liberty at the historic heart of the American political experiment -- but with the additional suggestion that the chances of attaining "liberty" may be stacked against us, as in any casino.

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