The predictions continue! The nominees this year for Best Featured Actor in a Musical are as follows, including the score for the entire production and the critics’ aggregated cast score (although, keep in mind that this score takes the entire cast into account).
- Phillip Boykin, The Gerswhins’ Porgy and Bess. Overall: 74, Cast: 84.
- Michael Cerveris, Evita. Overall: 65, Cast: 67.
- David Alan Grier, The Gerswhins’ Porgy and Bess. Overall: 74, Cast: 84.
- Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It. Overall: 69, Cast: 73.
- Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar. Overall: 58, Cast: 69.
Portraying Crown in Porgy and Bess, Phillip Boykin proves that he can play evil well, earning boos during his curtain call when some of us at Curtain Critic attended the classic musical. David Rooney claims that “Boykin is a menacing bear of a man with powerful sexual energy,” while AM New York’s review highlights his performance, stating, “Opera singer Philip Boykin makes for a credibly brutish and odious Crown - so much so that the audience can’t help but boo his character at curtain call.”
Broadway veteran Michael Cerveris was the highlight for most critics in the revival of Evita, especially when compared to the lukewarm sentiments towards Ricky Martin and Elena Roger. Portraying Juan Peron, husband to Eva, Michael’s stage time is limited, but his strong portrayal makes a great impression. Terry Teachout claims “Fortunately, Mr. Cerveris has more than enough [star power] to go around. To be sure, the part of Juan Perón is ungratefully small, but he plays it as though it were huge, and his stage presence is so electric that he steals the show from Ms. Roger in ‘You Must Love Me’ without saying a word or moving a muscle, which is quite a trick.”
David Alan Grier, also of Porgy and Bess, portrays Sportin’ Life, the devious gambler in the new version of this beloved opera. The The New Yorker writes, “the breathtaking performances, including Norm Lewis’s dignified Porgy, David Alan Grier’s raffish Sporting Life, and, above all, Audra McDonald’s passionate and nuanced Bess, are reason enough to applaud a revisionist ‘Porgy.’” Ben Brantley claims that Grier “has grown into his performance, and he now provides a sustained and engaging take on this Mephistophelean character.”
Michael McGrath is unanimously praised by critics as one of the major highlights of Nice Work If You Can Get It, along with his hilarious companion, Judy Kaye. The review in New York Magazine notes, “Running the show is plucky character-actor genius Michael McGrath, who plays Cookie, a short thug with a short fuse and a talent for managing chaos.” David Rooney raves of the two featured actors: “Every one of these performers hits the spot, but the chief scene-stealers are McGrath and certified musical-theater treasure Kaye. Their duel between three-quarter and four-quarter time – pitting the elegance of the waltz, ‘By Strauss,’ against the syncopated jazz of ‘Sweet and Lowdown’– is an ingenious mashup.”
Josh Young had an unfortunate opening for Jesus Christ Superstar, marred by illness. While the production itself did not earn glowing reviews, his performance as Judas (and his Broadway debut) made him a fan favorite. Young was ill during the press previews for the show, so there are no reviews of his performance. However, his nomination shows the power that he was able to convey, especially when his fellow cast mates (and the production) received lukewarm reviews.
In a tight race between Michael Cerveris and Michael McGrath, we’re going to say that McGrath has the edge, as he recently took home the Drama Desk Award for his performance.
Our prediction: Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It.