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Walken, Zeta-Jones, Washington Top Tony Must-See List: Preview

Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth
Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth in the play "Promises, Promises" in New York. The 1968 musical, with a score by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, is based on the film "The Apartment." Photographer: Joan Marcus/Hartman Group PR via Bloomberg

May 1 (Bloomberg) -- The last show of the Broadway season has opened, with Sherie Rene Scott’s autobiographical entertainment, “Everday Rapture,” in which she makes the Band’s “The Weight” all her own.

The Tony nominees will be announced Tuesday morning, giving you a month before the June 13 Tony Awards telecast on CBS to draw your own conclusions about a year noteworthy for an infusion of screen and TV stars.

If you’ve never seen the play “Fences” or the musical “A Little Night Music,” the word “revival” doesn’t mean much. The great August Wilson drama features stellar performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. The Sondheim show stars Catherine Zeta-Jones (who gets to sing “Send in the Clowns”) and the indomitable Angela Lansbury.

Christopher Walken is his creepily lovable self as a man without all his digits, not to mention marbles, in the black comedy “A Behanding in Spokane.” James Spader does his cocky lawyer thing, familiar from TV’s “Boston Legal,” in David Mamet’s “Race.”

Sean Hayes, late of “Will & Grace,” charms his way through the unnecessary “Promises, Promises,” which also gives Kristin Chenoweth the chance to croon “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Kelsey Grammer -- Frasier, you know -- is somewhat upstaged by British actor Douglas Hodge in the provocatively scaled back “La Cage aux Folles.”

What else must you absolutely, positively not miss?

Bill T. Jones’s rapturous non-stop dancing and Sahr Ngaujah’s marathon performance in the title role of “Fela!” Alfred Molina’s portrait of seething ambition as Mark Rothko in “Red.” The tight ensemble of actors that makes Geoffrey Nauffts’s drama “Next Fall” so moving. And Scott’s turn in “Rapture.”

‘American Idiot’

The tribute, “Sondheim on Sondheim” not only features Broadway legend Barbara Cook, but showcases director and Sondheim-collaborator James Lapine doing some of the best work of his career. And for two stars-in-the-making, Chad Kimball and Montego Glover as lovers in the soulfully enjoyable “Memphis.”

“American Idiot,” if you must indulge in a loud, pointless exercise in youthful nihilism. Yes, “The Addams Family” for laughs having little to do with Charles Addams and everything to do with a game cast headed by Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth (though Kevin Chamberlin steals the show as Uncle Fester). Finally, “I’ll Fly Away,” if you must see Twyla Tharp’s flung females doing whatever, to songs delivered by Frank Sinatra.

For the next month, it’s your call until the voters tell you what to think. Take your picks.

(Jeremy Gerard is an editor and critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Jeremy Gerard in New York at jgerard2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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