For Your Consideration- 71st Annual Tony Awards Predictions
Edit: Updates made on 4/28/17 after another round of rulings from the Tony committee.
I was in New York for the first time in a while last weekend, and I treated myself to a little mini vacation. I ended up seeing four shows in three days. I am very tired. But I’d gladly see any of the four I saw again. All four shows were unique in their own way, and each one provided a unique, visceral, emotional experience that made me love what I do and made me so excited to move to New York.
The 2016-17 Broadway season has been full of imaginative and wholly impressive theatre. And because we don’t have a dominating force like Hamilton in the mix this year, the 71st Tony Awards should be more than interesting, as there’s some great competition to be had all across the board.
The big race for Best Musical appears to be between Dear Evan Hansen- the definition of “new musical theatre,” featuring a young, awkward, anti-social leading man (if you did theatre in high school, I’m sure you can relate), relevant topics (tackling suicide and fitting in, among others), and a rock score by Pasek and Paul, who have had a HUGE last 12 months between this and La La Land- and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Great Comet has gathered a huge following since it moved from the American Repertory Theatre to Broadway, partially due to its Russian folk/rock/EDM score, but also partially due to its incredible, tech-heavy set. Great Comet scenic designer Mimi Lien converted the Imperial Theatre into a Russian dinner club (as seen below). It doesn’t hurt to have Josh Groban in your cast, either.
Each show has its reasons why it should win. Each show also has its reasons why it shouldn’t win.
Allow me to give you a third door, should you not feel like supporting either of those shows.
Come From Away.
A musical about the aftermath of September 11th, 2001 has the potential to go very, very wrong. Come From Away, which tells the story of the people of Gander, Newfoundland, who took in over 7,000 passengers from all over the world after their flights were diverted away from the United States, does literally everything right. The music, first and foremost, is great, combining rock with traditional Irish (with some Titanic thrown in there for good measure), but the characters, who take their words straight from interviews of these people, make us fall in love, give us hope, and help us understand that “because we come from everywhere, we all come from away.” If complicated Russian novels and pop-rock high school psychology aren’t your thing, Come From Away is a show with a message of acceptance, tolerance, and decency that we all can relate to.
And so, with awards season upon us, I present my predictions for the nominations of the 71st Tony Awards.
Now, something about making a Tony prediction list: it’s very difficult. Way more difficult than I could have thought. I have my speculations, obviously, but it’s hard for me to see all of these shows (theatre is expensive and I don’t live in New York). There is a lot of guessing involved here. Hopefully it’s good, educated guessing. So here we go.
- Come From Away
- Dear Evan Hansen
- Groundhog Day
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Look out for: War Paint
How refreshing is it to have three original musicals not based on films? Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, and Great Comet are my three locks. Anastasia, the adaptation of the 1997 animated film (I use the term "adaptation" loosely), takes a new spin on the well-known tale of the fabled Russian princess, and has been fairly well received since its opening. Groundhog Day, another 90s film adaptation, is fresh off its run in the West End, and makes its debut in New York to similar rave reviews. People are also pulling for Andy Karl because of that whole "show must go on" thing with his knee.
- A Doll’s House, Part 2
- The Play That Goes Wrong
Look out for: Significant Other
The Best Play race is down to really, a three horse race: First is J.T. Roger's historical drama, Oslo, which tells an against-all-odds story about a Norwegian husband-and-wife diplomat team coordinating peace talks between Israel and Palestine, which culminated in the Oslo accords in 1993. Another is Pulitzer-Prize winner Paula Vogel's Indecent, which tells the story of a play nearly lost to history- the 1923 Broadway staging of Sholem Asch's "God of Vengeance," which prompted authorities to shut down the piece and charge Asch on grounds of obscenity. The third is Lynn Nottage's Sweat, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Keep an aye out for Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2, which is an unexpectedly fantastic sequel to the Ibsen classic, and for the hilarious The Play That Goes Wrong.
Best Revival of a Musical:
- Hello, Dolly!
- Miss Saigon
- Sunset Boulevard
Musical to be potentially excluded: Miss Saigon
So there are only five eligible musical revivals this year (Sunday In the Park with George withdrew itself from consideration), so I'm nominating all of them. Will the Tony committee do the same? Or will they keep it to two or three? If I were to hazard a guess, I think it will be the latter. If they cut it from five, Miss Saigon will be the first to go.
Best Revival of a Play:
- Arthur Miller’s The Price
- The Glass Menagerie
- The Front Page
- Six Degrees of Separation
Look out for: Present Laughter
A very deep category this year, the Best Revival of a Play nominees boast some big titles with some even bigger names attached. Included in these plays are names like Mark Ruffalo, Danny Devito, Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantello, Sally Field, Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and Allison Janney.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
- Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
- Christian Borle, Falsettos
- Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
- Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
- Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Look out for: David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
The acting categories are where it gets really fun. Ben Platt appears to be the front runner, but everyone is all aboard the Andy Karl train, particularly since he made his comeback after hurting his leg during a performance. If anyone gets bumped, it'll have to be either Josh Groban or Jon Jon Briones, who makes a fantastic turn as The Engineer. David Hyde Pierce's Horace Vandergelder is some stiff competition.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:
- Christy Altomare, Anastasia
- Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
- Christine Ebersole, War Paint
- Patti Lupone, War Paint
- Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Look out for: Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Three living legends. Two extraordinary young ladies (three if you could count Eva). This is a category bursting with talent. I could see all five of these women winning the big one come June 11th. No qualms about that.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:
- Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
- Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
- Joe Mantello, The Glass Menagerie
- Richard Roxburgh, The Present
- Harry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong
Look out for: Jefferson Mays, Oslo
This field doesn't look like your typical "Best Actor in a Play" field. Gone are the days of the James Earl Jones/Philip Seymour Hoffman/Frank Langella/John Lithgow-crowded categories. While all of these actors are veterans of their craft, it'll truly be interesting to see who the five named in this category will be.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:
- Cate Blanchett, The Present
- Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
- Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation
- Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
- Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House, Part 2
Look out for: Mary-Louise Parker, Heisenberg
Since Cynthia Nixon is now considered for the Featured Actress in a Play category (she was originally projected for this one), the field is now wide open for Laurie Metcalf to take her slot. So, which A-list celebrity does the theatre community want to hang out with on Tony night? Combined (including the newly added Mary-Louise Parker), these six actresses have garnered a total of four Academy Awards (with 13 nominations), EIGHTEEN Primetime Emmy Awards (with 41 nominations), and 11 Tony nominations (with one win). You want star power? You got star power.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:
- Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
- Joel Hatch, Come From Away
- Michael Park, Dear Evan Hansen
- Andrew Rannels, Falsettos
- Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Look out for: Lee MacDougall, Come From Away
The Best Featured Actor in a Musical category is stacked. None of these men have ever won a Tony, and one of them will be well deserving of one. If I could nominate all the men from Come From Away, I would.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:
- Brittain Ashford, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
- Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
- Jean Colella, Come From Away
- Laura Dreyfuss, Dear Evan Hansen
- Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Look out for: Jennifer Laura Thompson, Dear Evan Hansen
While the category may be stacked with talents from Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen and Great Comet, there's one name that stands out: Stephanie J. Block. She's never won a Tony and is WELL overdue for one.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:
- John Benjamin Hickey, Six Degrees of Separation
- André Holland, Jitney
- Nathan Lane, The Front Page
- Richard Topol, Indecent
- Harold Parrineau, The Cherry Orchard
Look out for: John Goodman, The Front Page
Five poignant and nuanced performances populate the Best Featured Actor in a Play category, with no clear front runner right out of the gate. Plays like Jitney, The Front Page, and The Cherry Orchard all have large casts with multiple actors who could land themselves a nomination. Don't count out anyone from The Play That Goes Wrong, either.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:
- Katrina Lenk, Indecent
- Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
- Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
- Charlie Russell, The Play That Goes Wrong
- Cobie Smulders, Present Laughter
Look out for: Joanna Day, Sweat or Sas Goldberg, Significant Other
Robin from "How I Met Your Mother" is included in this category! It also features last year's winner for Best Actress in a Play, Jayne Houdyshell, who delivers a great performance in A Doll's House, Part 2. But could Katrina Lenk steal one and further intensify the Best Play race? Let's find out.
Best Direction of a Play:
- Mark Bell, The Play That Goes Wrong
- Trip Cullman, Six Degrees of Separation
- Bartlett Sher, Oslo
- Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
- Kate Whoriskey, Sweat
Look out for: Sam Gold, The Glass Menagerie
With the exception of A Doll's House, Part 2, which is mostly a bare set with a lot of talking, I'm sticking to my guns and keeping the other four projected nominees for Best Play in with the Best Direction of a Play Category. The one difference is Trip Cullman, who directed Significant Other as well this year, and is included here for his direction of Six Degrees of Separation.
Best Direction of a Musical:
- Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
- Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
- Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
- Darko Tresnjak, Anastasia
- Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day
Look out for: Robert DeNiro, A Bronx Tale, The Musical OR James Lapine, Falsettos
I'm sticking to my guns here as well- all of the directors here have shows that are projected to be nominated for Best Musical. Darko Tresjnak and Matthew Warchus have both won before (Warchus for Best Director of a Play for God of Carnage, Tresnjak for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder). Will Michael Greif finally break through and win his first Tony for direction?As far as my inclusion of A Bronx Tale- it all depends on if the Tony voters want to hang out with Bob DeNiro on June 11th.
Best Book of a Musical:
- Come From Away: Irene Sankoff & David Hein
- Dear Evan Hansen: Steven Levinson
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812: Dave Malloy
- War Paint: Doug Wright
Look out for: In Transit: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan & Sara Wordsworth
This is what bothers me about the Tony Awards- every category has a different number of nominees. Now we're getting into the awards with only four nominees, even though the year before last we had six nominations for Best Featured Actor in a Play. I like In Transit to steal a nomination here, only because the idea of an all a cappella musical hasn't been mounted before. I like the chances of the four-headed writing team.
Best Original Score:
- Come From Away: Music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hien
- Dear Evan Hansen: Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- Groundhog Day: Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812: Music and lyrics by Dave Malloy
Look out for: Bandstand: Music by Richard Oberacker, lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
This one is pretty straightforward. If I could nominate five writing teams, I would. Unfortunately, I can't. If Bandstand is going to swap places with one of the other nominees, look for Groundhog Day to be the first to go.
- Bandstand: Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen
- Come From Away: August Eriksmoen
- Dear Evan Hansen: Alex Lacamoire
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812: Dave Malloy
Look out for: In Transit: Deke Sharon
Again, fairly straightforward here. And while In Transit isn't orchestrated very cleverly (it's not orchestrated at all, really), the arrangements and the fact that it's an ALL A CAPPELLA musical has to carry some weight, right? By pure achievement alone?
- Amélie: Sam Pinkleton
- Bandstand: Andy Blankenbuehler
- Groundhog Day: Peter Darling & Ellen Kane
- Holiday Inn: Denis Jones
- Hello, Dolly!: Warren Carlyle
Look out for: In Transit: Kathleen Marshall
And again, we're back to five nominees. If Holiday Inn has a chance to win anything, it's the choreography award. Gershwin. Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Berlin musicals typically have large dance breaks. If Holiday Inn truly is no exception, there shouldn't be a contest in this category.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical:
- Anastasia: Alexander Dodge & Aaron Rhyne
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Mark Thompson
- Dear Evan Hansen: David Korins
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812: Mimi Lien
Look out for: A Bronx Tale The Musical: Beowulf Boritt
All of these sets are GORGEOUS. Great Comet's set is so ridiculous, we're left to wonder if there is even an audience of any kind. It's a masterwork of set design. And even if the sets aren't super dazzling, at least the projection design for some of these shows are immaculate (Anastasia and Dear Evan Hansen). And if Beowulf Boritt can't grab a nomination for A Bronx Tale, well, it proves he should have been using a Mac instead of one of those damn Windows tablets.
Best Scenic Design of a Play:
- The Cherry Orchard: Scott Pask
- Jitney: David Gallo
- The Play That Goes Wrong: Nigel Hook
- Present Laughter: David Zinn
Look out for: Significant Other: Mark Wendland
Interior sets, galore! The Best Scenic Design of a Play category is just a guess on my opinion, based purely on Google Imaging. But a lot of these have beautiful interior sets. Except that one part in The Cherry Orchard where they're outside.
Best Costume Design of a Musical:
- Amélie: David Zinn
- Anastasia: Linda Cho
- Hello, Dolly!: Santo Loguasto
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812: Paloma Young
Look out for: War Paint: Catherine Zuber
My thought process is this:
- So, obviously Anastasia has to get a nod for this. Those ball gowns. THOSE BALL GOWNS.
- Hello, Dolly! has Bette Midler walking around in a beautiful dress. So there's another.
- Great Comet will get all the technical nominations, so chalk one up for Paloma Young's innovative and ever changing costumes.
- Amélie... well, all the marketing design has Pippa Soo in these adorable multi-color outfits... something tells me they'll get one too.
Best Costume Design of a Play:
- The Cherry Orchard: Michael Krass
- The Front Page: Ann Roth
- The Little Foxes: Jane Greenwood
- Present Laughter: Susan Hilferty
Look out for: A Doll’s House, Part 2: David Zinn
It's clear that I'm basing my predictions for this category based on which plays are period, right? For men, it's the 1920s and 30s (Present Laughter & The Front Page), and for women it's the 19th century. Tony bait. Tell your friends.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical:
- Anastasia, Donald Holder
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Japhy Weideman
- Dear Evan Hansen, Japhy Weideman
- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Bradley King
Look out for: Groundhog Day, Hugh Vanstone
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 will win the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical. It just will. There is no other competition in this category.
Best Lighting Design of a Play:
- Arthur Miller’s The Price, David Weiner
- The Encounter, Paul Anderson
- The Play That Goes Wrong, Ric Mountjoy
- Six Degrees of Separation, Ben Stanton
Look out for: Oslo, Donald Holder
So lighting design in plays is very different than lighting design in musicals. So I guessed. Sue me.
Of everything projected to be nominated, I have seen only: Great Comet, Come From Away, and Doll's House, Part 2. The rest is all conjecture, but I feel like my guesses are pretty good. Isn't feeling like you're going to be right half the fun?
Also, a note on Waitress, which I also saw last weekend and had recently brought composer Sara Bareilles into its leading role. I have never cried that much (EVER) at a piece of theatre. Sara Bareilles is a very fine actress, and I challenge that her vocal talent on these songs is better than Jessie Mueller (I mean, she did write the music, after all). Go see Waitress while she's still in it.
The Tony Award nominations will be announced Tuesday, May 2nd. The 71st Annual Tony Awards will air on Sunday, June 11th at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.