‘It’s a Cage Match!’: A look at the race for the Tonys between Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Kinky Boots’ and Tim Minchin’s ‘Matilda’

Cyndi Lauper and Tim Minchin

Cyndi Lauper and Tim Minchin

The big race at this year’s Tony Awards is between Cyndi Lauper and Tim Minchin. That’s right, it’s kinky vs. the naughty with Lauper’s Kinky Boots and Minchin’s Matilda leading the nomination pool with 13 and 12 nominations.

The two musicals will go head to head in 11 different categories, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score.

Despite trailing in nominations, Minchin claimed himself the winner of round one when he won the Fan Favorite Song Award at the 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards.

“It’s very strange for me as a Western Australian at this point in my life to be in some sort of perpetual cage fight with Cyndi Lauper,” Minchin said. “Growing up in the 80s and seeing her dance on my television, I had no way of seeing that coming.”

It certainly is a big year for Lauper: her debut album was released 30 years ago this October but Lauper seems to just be enjoying the experience of being a Tony-nominated composer.

In a recent interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Lauper became emotional while describing the experience of working on Kinky Boots. “Sometimes you work really hard and nothing happens but we’re so lucky that it took off,” she said.

Despite Lauper’s decades of experience, Matilda is a more proven entity going into Sunday’s awards. The West End-transfer garnered a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards in 2012, including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Bertie Carvel.

After its successful run at the Olivier’s, Matilda and Carvel made the transfer to Broadway where it has been garnering similar attention and accolades. Carvel is again nominated for his performance as the evil Miss Trunchbull at this year’s Tonys but this time he’ll have stiff competition from not one but two of Kinky Boots’s actors, Stark Sands and Billy Porter. The questions in that contest are if Sands and Porter will divide the votes and if Carvel will be able to pull off another win.

One area the Matilda can already claim victory is for the four young actresses playing the title role. The American Theater Wing controversially ruled that the four actresses would be ineligible for the Lead Actress in a Musical Category but will instead go home for a special Tony Award for their performances.

Critics at “Time Out New York” are calling the race for Best Musical too close to call while “The New York Times” gives Matilda the edge.

The only certain thing is that it will be an exciting finish to a star-studded year on Broadway when the Tony Awards are presented this Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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