It’s that time of year again! The Tony Awards are just two days away, and the theatrical psychics are out in full force, each of them forecasting who they suspect will be bestowed with Broadway’s highest honors.
Of course, we at StageBuddy couldn’t resist the urge to play along, so we’ve compiled our own list of potential winners based on analysis, industry buzz, and plain ol’ gut instinct. Combining surefire locks with likely upsets and surprises, and a few that are probably in there just for the hell of it, this list has it all… and while it’s in no way definitive, we’ve done our best to provide logical reasoning in the major categories for why we made the choices we did… and hopefully, you (and the stalwart Tony voters) will agree!
Check out the complete list of predictions below and see how you stack up! And be sure to confirm the accuracy of our supernatural abilities by tuning in to the 72nd Annual Tony Awards on June 10th at 8PM on CBS. Thanks for playing, and enjoy!
ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CATEGORIES
With our country in turmoil and currently completely divided, a lauded story celebrating unity, connection between two people, respect and empathy for another’s culture, and most importantly, hope for the future, pretty much seems like a lock… and indeed, it may still be. But with a certain porous yellow sea sponge gradually gaining momentum among professional critics and everyday theatergoers alike, it’s very possible that the denizens of Bikini Bottom, bolstered by their own plentitude of Drama Desk victories last week, could surprise us all and take the prize. But honestly… if SpongeBob won out against our Egyptian and Israeli allies, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, now would it (wink wink wink)?
Read our review of The Band's Visit here.
Is there really any question here? Its magical mysticism having mesmerized Muggles around the globe, this bar-raising, Olivier Award-winning spectacular is undoubtedly taking the Tony gold, while sweeping all the design categories on its way to the big prize.
Best Revival of a Musical:
Speaking solely in terms of theatrical merit and directorial vision, each of the three stunners nominated for best revival presents a new angle worthy of recognition in its own right. But its polarizing anti-#MeToo storyline makes Carousel less likely to garner a win here. Michael Arden has definitely given Once on This Island the Midas touch; his radical re-imagination of the Ahrens and Flaherty favorite is equal parts riveting and relevant, exemplifying the effects of having hope and love in times of disaster. Having lost out on a win in 2016 as a result of the Hamilton phenomenon, he definitely has a more-than-worthy horse in the race this time around. But then again, we’ve yet to have a Bartlett Sher-helmed LCT classic musical that doesn’t take home the Best Revival prize, and wouldn’t it be loverly if we could keep that streak alive? With all rightfully due accolades for Once on this Island (and believe me, this writer is sooo in their camp!), the grandeur of a sweeping, full-scale period piece seems to give My Fair Lady the edge over Arden’s intimate island tale.
Read our review of My Fair Lady here.
Best Revival of a Play:
A riveting story, exceptional performances and a larger-than-life design concept that stuns in its delivery, this one’s a lock for this extraordinary production. And while well-deserved in its own right, it can use the victory to soften the blow when it’ll likely lose out on the directorial prize, thanks to the work of a certain boy wizard.
Read our review of Angels in America here.
Best Book of a Musical:
Nominees: Itamar Moses, The Band's Visit; Jennifer Lee, Frozen; Tina Fey, Mean Girls; Kyle Jarrow, SpongeBob SquarePants
Predicted Winner: Tina Fey, Mean Girls
While The Band’s Visit is indeed a critical darling, promoting the aforementioned themes of hope and empathy, it seems to be more lauded as a whole for its music than the individual contents of its book. It’s a story that touches us, for sure, but its success does not lie in the book alone. While Itamar Moses could pick this one up as a result of riding the coattails of his show’s inevitable success, we’re not so quick to dismiss another of his competitors.
Wry, witty and cleverly integrating all the film’s one-liners you know you can quote by heart, comedy queen Tina Fey’s acclaimed adaptation of her hit 2004 flick, Mean Girls, truly cements her status among the best modern musical comedy writers. With its equally poignant and prevalent message reminding us that “calling someone ugly doesn’t make you better looking [and] calling someone stupid doesn’t make you smarter,” aided by a much-deserved Drama Desk win and her definitive legendary celeb status, the SNL alum has a genuine shot here at being rewarded for her work. And that’d be “so fetch” indeed!
Read our review of Mean Girls here.
Best Original Score:
Nominees: Adrian Sutton, Angels in America; David Yazbek, The Band's Visit; Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Frozen; Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin, Mean Girls; Various contributors, SpongeBob SquarePants
Predicted Winner: David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit
In a scenario reminiscent of last year’s banner win for last year’s frontrunners in this category, Pasek and Paul, this award has been a long time coming for David Yazbek, and this year it’s his to lose. Hailed by many as the best score of his career, Yazbek’s work is truly like none other currently on Broadway, blending an authentic Middle Easter timbre with a rich, full Broadway sound — and that element alone is enough to secure him the win. Add in the luscious melodies and pristinely poetic lyrics which lay the groundwork for Katrina Lenk’s groundbreaking performance… and you’ll easily see why this one’s a no-brainer. No questions. It’s all his.
Read about our favorite songs from The Band's Visit here.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:
Nominees: Andrew Garfield, Angels in America; Tom Hollander, Travesties; Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King; Denzel Washington, The Iceman Cometh
Predicted Winner: Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Critics have been quoted saying that “[playing] Prior Walter is a marathon,” and indeed, one look at the scope of the role and you’ll agree. But equally true is the fact that it’s one Andrew Garfield has run phenomenally, skillfully blending elements of the character’s larger-than-life persona with smaller subtleties that’ll shake you to the core. All the more to him for running it twice, at that, having transferred with the production after a year in the role in the West End.
He was snubbed at the Oliviers, but there’s no doubt the Americans will more than make it to up to him. And sure, he’s competing against heavy-hitting all-stars of equal weight, Denzel Washington and Tony darling Mark Rylance among them, but the scale of the production and the sense of “event” it brings with it will certainly work in his favor. It’s yours, sir. Congratulations.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:
Glenda Jackson. The octogenarian actor-turned-politician makes her grand return to the stage after a 26-year acting hiatus, and, with a weighty, complex performance, proves she’s just as flawless as she was on day one. Need we say more?
Read our review of Three Tall Women here.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Nominees: Henry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady; Joshua Henry, Carousel; Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants; Tony Shalhoub, The Band's Visit
Predicted Winner: Joshua Henry, Carousel
Some say Joshua Henry has this in the bag with “Soliloquy” alone. He’s also making history as the first person of color to portray Billy Bigelow. Though less likely especially given that his character doesn’t sing much, it’s possible that Tony Shaloub could ride The Band’s Visit wave and take home a trophy for his portrayal of Tewfiq. And naysayers be damned — though he is essentially portraying a live-action Nickelodeon cartoon, Ethan Slater is superb in the role of the titular sea sponge. His uncanny vocalization of the beloved character is bested only by his physicality, as he bends, twists and contorts himself through a variety of obstacles within the show. Simply put, as much as it pains us to see our beloved Broadway be overtaken by the commercialization of a children’s television show, this dude truly deserves the honor. He’s so much more than just a simple sponge.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Nominees: Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady; Hailey Kilgore, Once on This Island; LaChanze, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit; Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls; Jessie Mueller, Carousel
Predicted Winner: Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
It’s a pretty safe bet to say this one is Katrina Lenk’s to lose. As the one delivering the “eleven-o’clock number” from Yazbek’s aforementioned stellar score, Lenk’s delicate dulcet tones quite literally soar on a jasmine wind. Her continued infatuation with Tewfiq is enough to pique our interest, but it’s her ability to evoke desperation that really captivates us: she’s eager to bottle the vision of her Omar Sharif and terminate her endless “waiting,” but frustrated by the elements that keep her from having that with this handsome stranger.
Having played the role in last year’s original Off-Broadway production, Lenk has now lived with this woman for 2.5 years. She owns her, and it shows, and the voters will definitely take notice.
Of course, as they are wont to do, pundits warn us to watch out for Lauren Ambrose, who swooped in and surprised us all with her loverly take on Eliza Doolittle (and a stellar soprano, to boot!), as one who may knock Lenk off her horse. However, we’re confident enough that Lenk’s got a tight hold on the reins.
Umm Kulthum would be proud.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:
Nominees: Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Michael Cera, Lobby Hero; Brian Tyree Henry, Lobby Hero; Nathan Lane, Angels in America; David Morse, The Iceman Cometh
Predicted Winner: Nathan Lane, Angels in America
Sure, Michael Cera and Bryan Tyree Henry gave praiseworthy performances in the now-shuttered Lobby Hero, but Lane trumps them all with his gut-wrenchingly honest portrayal of Roy Cohn. Equal parts humorous and heartfelt, Lane’s spin on the maniacal monster shows us why he, Lane, deserves to be revered among the greats.
And not-for-nothing, but the relevance of his character considering the events of the past few months certainly can’t hurt either.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:
Nominees: Susan Brown, Angels in America; Noma Dumezweni, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Deborah Findlay, The Children; Denise Gough, Angels in America; Laurie Metcalf, Three Tall Women
Predicted Winner: Denise Gough, Angels in America
All eyes point on Denise Gough, the fresh face from across the pond whose undoubtedly made a name for herself with her stirring and heartbreaking performance as Harper Pitt. Aided by the momentum of the overall production, it pretty much seems like a done deal. But with Laurie Metcalf’s banner year, which has included a much-lauded Oscar nod, a celebrated (albeit since fizzled) run on television, and a grand return to Broadway just one year after garnering her first trophy in one of the most buzzed-about plays of last season, wouldn’t it just be incredible to top it all off with a second consecutive win?
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Nominees: Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady; Alexander Gemignani, Carousel; Grey Henson, Mean Girls; Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants; Ari'el Stachel, The Band's Visit
Predicted Winner: Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady
This category is the sheer definition of a mixed bag, with an array of accomplished and revered performances among the contenders with no real clear frontrunner to call. Anyone who’s seen SpongeBob SquarePants can tell you Gavin Lee’s showstopping eight-legged tap-tacular is the highlight of the evening, and a feat for which he could very much be rewarded, as evidenced by his Drama Desk win last week. And Ari’el Stachel is the heart and soul of The Band's Visit, melting audiences’ hearts first with his alluring charm and then with his silky smooth croon on Haled’s signature song. We may not love Chet Baker, but we’ve certainly fallen for Stachel.
But then…. Norbert Leo Butz is a two-time Tony winner (and the only former winner of the category) and his definitive “Get Me to the Church on Time” shows us why. Though the rightful winner should be Stachel for his subtle, yet brilliant work, Butz’s past victories and likable showman status might just be enough to firm up a three-peat.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Nominees: Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; Renée Fleming, Carousel; Lindsay Mendez, Carousel; Ashley Park, Mean Girls; Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady
Predicted Winner: Lindsay Mendez, Carousel
In a category teeming with first-time nominees, buzz among the more seasoned industry folk seems to indicate the victor as the sole veteran, Diana Rigg, for My Fair Lady, despite the fact that she doesn’t sing even once in the entire production. Even so, let us make the case for Lindsay Mendez. While the themes of Carousel are quite grim, this critical darling is a bright, revitalizing light in the midst of a dark, dark tunnel. She adds new layers to an already uber-vibrant role — the same one that began Audra’s journey to total Tony Awards domination! To think that the role wasn’t even initially hers (she took over when Betsy Wolfe dropped out due to scheduling conflicts) is a true testament to the fact that anything can happen… and that this beloved theatrical veteran, praised for knockout performances in Dogfight, Wicked, and Significant Other, may finally get the moment she deserves.
Best Direction of a Play:
Nominees: Marianne Elliott, Angels in America; Joe Mantello, Three Tall Women; Patrick Marber, Travesties; John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; George C. Wolfe, The Iceman Cometh
Predicted Winner: John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Without question, the toughest call of the night. The obvious choice is John Tiffany, the mastermind behind the sorcery within Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Aided by last week’s Drama Desk win, this outcome, as we mentioned, deservedly seems the most likely to occur. But Marianne Elliot also has that Midas touch, and there’s no question it’s on full display in the mind-blowing Angels in America. With past wins for the equally extraordinary War Horse and Curious Incident, her stamp on Kushner’s tale helps to make this production as epic it is. And while it may not be on the same technically unbelievable level as her competition this time around, it’s certainly fair to say she gives Tiffany a run for his money… and his award.
Best Direction of a Musical:
Nominees: Michael Arden, Once on This Island; David Cromer, The Band's Visit; Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical; Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls; Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady
Predicted Winner: Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
With Hamilton no longer standing in his way, it seemed like Michael Arden, whose vision for Once on This Island immerses us in the world of disaster-stricken Haiti and provides a raw and real look at the devastating effects of global warming and climate change in the most riveting and emotional way, finally had a chance. Then came Tina Landau, who eradicated everyone’s idea of the Times Square costumed characters with her equally imaginative vision of SpongeBob’s undersea oasis, managing to thrill audiences young and old to Drama Desk-dominating effect. The ability to award a deserving woman in the category might also work in her favor. Then, there’s the added element of David Cromer, long-respected in the industry, who may get looked over ahead of the performers in The Band's Visit, but whose chances may be bolstered by the praise for the overall production. But dear Tony producers, at least grant us this: if either of these two phenoms win out against Arden, when you announce his name as a nominee, at least be kind enough to show his face.
Nominees: Christopher Gattelli, My Fair Lady; Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants; Steven Hoggett, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls; Justin Peck, Carousel
Predicted Winner: Justin Peck, Carousel
Should Carousel fail to receive any awards in other categories, this one’s a lock for the production. Plucked from the New York Ballet, Justin Peck puts his dance background on full display here, infusing each number with his own brand of graceful delicacy to create a result that not only serves the material, but is miraculously captivating as a standalone movement. In a respectable close second comes Gatelli’s work in My Fair Lady, though pundits surmise his double nomination for SpongeBob will split the vote. Sure, you can argue there’s no one in this day and age like modern mega-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, but Mean Girls is contemporary, and contemporary is what’s all over the boards these days. And with true classic musical theatre dwindling toward rarity, voters will undoubtedly go for the diamond among the stones.
Nominees: John Clancy, Mean Girls; Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical; AnnMarie Milazzo and Michael Starobin, Once on This Island; Jamshied Sharifi, The Band's Visit; Jonathan Tunick, Carousel
Predicted Winner: Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
If the voters want to reward the SpongeBob team for its effort as an overall production, they’ll do it here, as a way to recognize the musical’s eclectic score without depriving Yazbek of his well-earned prize.
But it wouldn’t just be a token trophy; it’d be fully earned and deserved in its own right. Fusing tracks from a wide array of artists and musical groups, all of different 15 different artists and musical groups of genres all over the map and producing a cohesive sound is no easy feat, and Kitt pulls it off masterfully... while maintaining the overall sense of effervescent optimism the cartoon emits so well. It’s just the type of effort the nominators would reward.
But then again.... its competition IS The Band’s Visit, and what’s a band without its orchestrations?
OTHER AWARDS BY WINNER WITH MINOR NOTES
Best Scenic Design of a Play: Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Michael Yeargan, My Fair Lady
Best Costume Design of a Play: Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (with Paul Constable for Angels in America a close second!!)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical (with Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer for Once on This Island a close second!)
Best Sound Design of a Play: Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Best Sound Design of a Musical: It’s the battle of the Foley artists. Either to Peter Hylenski for Once on this Island for the production’s untouchable found-object orchestra or Walter Trarbach & Mike Dobson of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, for enlivening Bikini Bottom with honks, squeaks and ah-ooga-ah-oogas at every turn.
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Ernest Winzer Cleaners
Regional Theatre Tony Award
La Mama E. T. C. (Experimental Theatre Club)
Special Tony Award
Isabelle Stevenson Award
The 72nd Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live on CBS on June 10th at 8PM from Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY. For more information, including tickets, celebrity presenters and performers, and of course, the nominees, visit www.tonyawards.com.