Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer
Producers: Kim Poster, PW Productions, Adam Epstein, SFX Theatrical Group, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, Back Row Productions, Old Ivy Productions.
This fictional look at Antonio Salieri's poisonous jealousy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart won the 1981 Tony in its Broadway premiere, as did director Peter Hall. Hall has been nominated again, alongside star David Suchet, best known for playing Hercule Poirot on PBS TV's "Mystery!". Suchet's equally lauded co-star, Michael Sheen, did not get nominated for his Mozart.
A Moon for the Misbegotten, by Eugene O'Neill
Producers: Elliot Martin, Chase Mishkin, Max Cooper, Jujamcyn Theaters, Anita Waxman, Elizabeth Williams, The Goodman Theatre.
O'Neill's comedy-drama tells of Josie, a plain-spoken, big-sized woman living with her drunken father on a tenant farm. They're beholden to landlord James Tyrone, who keeps his promise not to evict them despite receiving attractive offer for the land from a nearby neighbor. Tyrone has his own problems with drink and self-hatred, however, and even Josie's forgiveness can't save him from himself. Moon hasn't been on Broadway since a 1984 staging with Kate Nelligan. Wendy Hiller originated the role of Josie in 1957, though Colleen Dewhurst is most closely identified with it, mainly for the 1973 revival that co-starred Jason Robards. All three leads in this go-`round have scored Tony nominations: Cherry Jones, Gabriel Byrne and featured actor Roy Dotrice.
The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard
Producer: David Richenthal.
This wry look at a playwright who can deal with love better on stage than he can in real life, has also netted nominations for actors Stephen Dillane, Jennifer Ehle, Sarah Woodward and director David Leveaux. This Tom Stoppard comedy has already had its share of Tony success; the 1984 Broadway mounting netted not only Best Play honors, but Tony wins for Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, featured actress Christine Baranski and director Mike Nichols. Stoppard's stature as a playwright has only grown since then, thanks to such richly woven works as Indian Ink, Arcadia and his screenplay for the Oscar-winning "Shakespeare in Love."
The Price, by Arthur Miller
Producers: Anita Waxman, Elizabeth Williams, Ron Kastner, Miramax Films, The Donmar Warehouse.
Recent seasons have seen several major revivals of Arthur Miller plays, including last year's Tony-winning Death of a Salesman. This year, Miller has a "new" work up for Best Play consideration (1991's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan). The Price, Tony nominated in its 1968 premiere (it lost to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Stoppard), starts as an ethnic comedy, in which an old Jewish furniture dealer tummels and haggles with a policeman over his family's heirlooms. The situation grows darker, however, when the cop's more successful brother shows up and helps the protagonist realize he's thrown away his life in following what he thought was a noble cause.
Analysis: May be a cakewalk for A Moon for the Misbegotten. Amadeus received mixed reviews and never quite built a strong audience. (Despite scoring Best Revival and Best Actor nominations, the day after nominations were announced it announced a May 14 closing date.) The Price closed weeks ago and was considered by some an actors' exercise than a fully-realized drama. Stoppard's The Real Thing is the dark horse here. Reviews were exceptionally strong, it's still running, and it's still considered modern and "sexy." Still, Moon has three powerhouse (and Tony nominated) performances, and an epic feel. Also, some Tony voters might still be disappointed that Miller's Death of a Salesman beat out O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh so decisively last Tony time. -- By David Lefkowitz