73rd Tony Awards Predictions
Ah yes, the annual “come see our shows” show for the Great White Way.
This year showed a massive improvement from last year in terms of quality in both the play and musical scene.
That’s right, both the play and musicals this season have been astoundingly impressive. Initially it was though that only the plays were going to stand out this year, with the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, Network, The Ferryman, Choir Boy, The Waverly Gallery, Gary, and What the Constitution Means to Me all having standout spots on Broadway this year, many of which either announced or premiered in 2018.
But the musicals, never to be counted out, had a serious charge in the spring. Shows like Ain’t Too Proud, Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Hadestown, Oklahoma!, and even The Prom, which still continues to stay strong despite the onslaught of shows opening after it.
The performances were strong as well. Movie stars and veteran stage actors alike gave fantastic performances. Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels and Adam Driver, along with Paddy Considine and the incomparable Jeremy Pope highlight the Best Actor in a Play category, while the women have SIX nominees, including the likes of Laurie Metcalf (who we’ve never seen before), Janet McTeer, Elaine May (at the age of 87), and Annette Bening.
On the musical side, we saw spectacular musical performances this year… and dare I say there were too many to count?
The entire cast of Hadestown, including Eva Noblezada, Andre De Shields, Amber Gray, and Patrick Page.
The cast of The Prom: Caitlin Kinnunen, Beth Leavel, and Brooks Ashmanskas- even with fabulous supporting performances from Christopher Sieber, Angie Schworer and Michael Potts.
Careers could be made this year. Santino Fontana in Tootsie. Stephanie J. Block in The Cher Show. Ali Stroker in Oklahoma!. Ephraim Sykes in Ain’t Too Proud.
There were even performances from this year that didn’t get nominated (although why, I’m not sure). Bonnie Milligan in Head Over Heels stands out. Stephanie Styles in Kiss Me Kate does too. Tracy Letts in All My Sons. And countless more.
This was a really good year for Broadway, all things considered. And since the Tony Awards are on Sunday, let’s take a look at who’s walking home with those shiny little spinner things.
For the first time in quite a while, we have a very likeable group of Best Musical nominees that I would be happy if any of them won.
Hadestown is the clear favorite, which means it’s Rachel Chavkin and Anaïs Mitchell’s New Orleans jazz/Greek tragedy fusion piece to lose. The show really is that good, and it’s worth every dollar (and trust me, some of these tickets may cost you every dollar you have) to see. Hadestown features an eclectic cast of actors including the Amber Gray, Patrick Page, Andre De Shields, Eva Noblezada, and Reeve Carney. The score is this really interesting jazz/folk/songwriter blend, with songs that you can actually (gasp) walk away singing? What a concept. And then there’s the stagecraft- absolutely brilliant lights, sound, costumes and set reminiscent of Rachel Chavkin’s previous endeavor, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. And despite it being a story everyone knows (Orpheus and Eurydice), it still holds up as a brilliant retelling of an old classic, with twists and turns that still hit home. It’s the favorite for a reason, and I certainly thought the same when I saw it.
And then I saw The Prom.
As a preface, it is very difficult for me to cry while watching live theatre. So much has to go right, and if something ruins it for you (like a hearing aid going off throughout the entire second act of Hadestown), you feel like your money was wasted a little bit, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to dish out another hefty sum of money to see something again. The show really has to take you to another place. It wasn’t until I saw Waitress with Sara Bareilles that I experienced such a thing.
So when I was a hot mess at the end of The Prom, even though I was sitting in the balcony, that showed me that I was seeing something special.
I went on a journey seeing this show. I went from really not being into it for the first 15 minutes or so, to the show literally sitting me down and saying “HEY. This is the reason why we go to the theatre. Give your critical eye a rest for two goddamn seconds and have FUN.” The twists. The turns. The emotions. The TEARS. What I see in this show is so much love, so much joy, so much “love is a good thing that we should be celebrating.” I see a lot of Head Over Heels in The Prom (it’s just done a lot better, sorry, Hudson family). I truly wanted to live in that world when I was watching it. And, funny enough, it has the fewest nominations of any of the Best Musical nominees (7).
The Prom is the right story for Tony voters to select it as Best Musical.
The other shows in this category are also formidable; props to the Wing for getting this category correct. Ain’t Too Proud has 12 Tony nominations, Tootsie, 11. Beetlejuice has 8. These shows are not here by accident.
I tend to overanalyze these things based on what the best-looking scenario is on paper. So, I’m going with my gut. Hadestown is not the next Hamilton (nor is it close), but it’s sure blowing up like it’s the next Evan Hansen, and that’s good enough for me. But trust me- Hadestown isn't going to run away with these awards like many thought it would.
And if there’s some kind of shocking twist, you can bet The Prom will best next in line for the crown.
Will win: Hadestown
Should win: Dare I say… The Prom?
Could win: Tootsie
The biggest shock to this category was the exclusion of both To Kill a Mockingbird and Network, two plays that many surely considered locks, and potentially even contenders to win. But since those two are out, we have to deal with what we’re left with, which leaves the race pretty much wide open. One of the current favorites has to be Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, which earned itself a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I think based on what the Tony Awards are, which is an enormous advertisement for Broadway so that tourists will come to New York and keep it afloat, giving Constitution the win seems like the obvious move. It’s political. It’s emotional. It’s timely. It is yet another “fuck you” from the theatre community to the American political machine. Which is why I think it would be an easy, relatable, safe choice to make. I’m not knocking What the Constitution Means to Me, but the praise that has been heaped on it and its Pulitzer Prize nomination signal that everyone’s riding that wave right into the Tony Awards.
But in my opinion, the Best Play of this category (and of this year) was The Ferryman. Despite changing casts midway through the run, it earned tremendous praise, including a Critic’s Pick from The New York Times. And just when I thought it had run out of momentum and Constitution was a lock to win, Ferryman picked up Best Play awards at the Drama Desk, Outer Critics’ Circle, and Drama League Awards, defeating Constitution at all three turns.
I’ve gone back and forth with this selection. Initially, and for the longest period of time, I had Heidi Schreck and Constitution pulling the upset. But now I’m going with my gut. Ferryman forever.
What time is it?
Will and should win: The Ferryman
Could win: What the Constitution Means to Me
Best Revival of a Musical
Two extremely traditional shows received revamps this year. One of them was your typical, run-of-the-mill-revival- a squeaky-clean, Roundabout Theatre Company-subscriber-friendly remounting. The other was a complete re-imagining of an American classic, stripped down from its big Broadway roots of the 1930s and rebuilt “for the 21st century” in a small, intimate environment. The question is: which show will resonate with Tony voters more? I think because it tried to go to such great lengths, and to have a lot of it work, Oklahoma! will stand out further than Kiss Me, Kate will.
Will win: Oklahoma!
Could win: Kiss Me, Kate
Best Revival of a Play
This category is tough, because only two of the shows nominated are currently running. The other three were all early season shows that closed either before or shortly after January 2019. Of those two that are still running, Burn This is the better production (and I’m not just saying that because I work there- I work at Roundabout too, and I’ve seen All My Sons), but it all depends on which show resonates with voters more, or which ones the Wing chooses to remember the fondest. The Waverly Gallery has Elaine May and a Kenneth Lonergan nomination from last year going for it. Torch Song closed early, but garnered favorable reviews. The Boys in the Band was the first show to open in the 2018-19 season, but thanks to Ryan Murphy, will be getting a Netflix special made from it, reminding voters that it exists. I think, of the major production awards, this one is shrouded in the most mystery. Early on, The Waverly Gallery was the favorite, and I think that remains true heading into June. But don’t be surprised if The Boys in the Band or Burn This pull the upset.
Will win: The Waverly Gallery
Could win: The Boys in the Band or Burn This
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Five men, five vastly different stories. There’s been some controversy surrounding Tootsie, but if I could stick my nose where it might not belong for two seconds, Michael Dorsey is supposed to a terrible person. He’s so despicable that obviously folks are going to hate him for dressing up as a woman to try to get a role. I think that might be the point. Still, I think Santino’s got it in the bag, since he’s got to carry the show. The other four nominees are matched (or overshadowed) by others in their cast, so I think we’ll see the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” actor take home his first Tony.
Will win: Santino Fontana, Tootsie
Could win: Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice or Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Every year seems like it will be THE year for Stephanie J. Block. It’s interesting that people say that, considering she’s only been nominated twice previously for Tony Awards. But her competition isn’t as strong this year. Caitlin Kinnunen and Beth Leavel likely will cancel each other out, as both are equally strong in The Prom for different reasons. Eva Noblezada gets swallowed up in the vast cavalcade of talent that is Hadestown, and I don’t think Kiss Me, Kate is strong enough as a production for Kelli O’Hara to carry it on her back (even though she carries that entire show on her back). Cher is a generational talent, and Stephanie J. Block’s turn as Star Cher will likely make her stand out from the group. It’s finally her time, guys!
Will and should win: Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
Could win: Beth Leavel or Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
This is another interesting category shrouded in some mystery. It appears to be the big three film and TV stars in the front of the pack: Bryan Cranston’s Howard Beale from Network, Adam Driver’s portrayal of the hyperactive Pale in the Burn This revival, and Jeff Daniels’ turn as the iconic Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Cranston has this very unique ability to play to both a live camera and a live audience at the same damn time. That has to count for something. He also won the Olivier for his performance in Network, and he’ll be competing against Paddy Considine, who was also nominated for The Ferryman once again. But Cranston seems to have lost a lot of momentum, and his inclusion with this very strong group of equally good actors could split his chances. Jeff Daniels has the mighty task of playing Atticus Finch… but dare I say that any other actor of his stature in that position could play the brilliant orator that is Atticus? Let me hit you with that third option- Adam Driver. Pale is not a role that anyone could play. It’s a roller-coaster of a time on stage. He’s full of so many emotions- and all of them begin at a 10 and seem to just spiral out of control. Rage, grief, love, frustration, confusion- it’s all there to the “volcanic” (as the Times put it) Driver. In a late surge of momentum, The Wing awards the Tony to one of Hollywood’s best young actors. Driver wins in something of an upset.
Will and should win: Adam Driver, Burn This
Could win: Bryan Cranston, Network or Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Everybody’s been on the Elaine May train since The Waverly Gallery opened. The 87 year-old would be receiving her first Tony nomination, and a win would make her the oldest Tony Award winner ever for an acting category. In her way are five other brilliant nominees. I really love that they nominated Janet McTeer for Bernhardt/Hamlet, a super underrated performance in this blogger’s opinion. If I were running the Tony’s, Laura Donnelly would win for her powerful performance in The Ferryman. That play is not about Quinn or any of the kids, it’s about Caitlin, and thanks to Donnelly, that becomes blatantly clear over the course of the show. But I haven’t been given any reason to think she’ll win, considering Ferryman changed their cast over about midway through the run. We’re going with Elaine May, who hasn’t had any doubt challenge her this season.
Will win: Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Should win: Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
Could win: Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet or Laurie Metcalf, Hilary and Clinton
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
When I saw Hadestown, I was more impressed with Patrick Page than I was with Andre De Shields. Still, Andre was playing Andre, which should fare well with Tony voters. The inclusion of both Ephraim Sykes and Jeremy Pope (who is being nominated for two different acting categories this year) certain makes things interesting as well. Will the Wing honor his fantastic achievements in both Ain’t Too Proud and Choir Boy in this category? I think we’re going with tradition here and picking Andre De Shields, further bolstering Hadestown’s bid for Best Musical.
Will win: Andre De Shields, Hadestown
Should win: Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud
Could win: Patrick Page, Hadestown or Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
It’s Amber Gray against Ali Stroker. Both are fantastic and both deserve to win. But the real story is the exclusion of Bonnie Milligan from Head Over Heels, who made a noteworthy debut on Broadway to hardly any fanfare. If anyone deserved to be here most, it was her. I don’t think Mary Testa’s inclusion in the category hinders Ali Stroker’s chances of winning, and in fact, I think she’s got this one locked up.
Will and should win: Ali Stroker, Oklahoma!
Could win: Amber Gray, Hadestown or Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
My gut is to pick Brandon Uranowitz for this category, and not just because I work at Burn This. I firmly believe he gave the best performance out of these five. People are still talking about Bertie Carvel’s turn as Rupert Murdoch from Ink, but I think if Burn This gets any kind of award at the Tony’s, it’s for Uranowitz’s brilliant turn as Larry in the Lanford Wilson revival.
Will and should win: Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
Could win: Bertie Carvel, Ink
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
There’s not much of a contest here. Ever since casting was announced for To Kill a Mockingbird, Celia Keenan-Bolger has been mentioned right along with Jeff Daniels every step of the way. Scout is a hefty part of the book, with some even considering her to be the central character of Harper Lee’s iconic novel. Kristine Nielsen replaced Andrea Martin before Gary started previews, so her role has to be a juicy one as well. But Celia is as close to a leading character as you can get in this one. No contest. CKB wins her first Tony.
Will and should win: Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird
Could win: Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Best Book of a Musical
I want to make this clear- Hadestown doesn’t really have a book. And if it does, it’s not spectacular in comparison to the others it’s going up against. The two that I think have the best chance are Tootsie and The Prom. Tootsie because it’s one joke after another, and in comparison to the score, it’s the stronger of the two; The Prom because it’s just so pure, full of wit and full of love written by people who clearly love the craft they’ve dedicated their lives to. If The Prom steals one here, I wouldn’t be mad- nor would I be shocked, considering Bob Martin won a Tony for writing The Drowsy Chaperone. But I’m picking Tootsie here.
Will and should win: Robert Horn, Tootsie
Could win: Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin, The Prom
Best Original Score
Now we get into the strong suit for Hadestown- the score. It started as a concept album, but Anaïs Mitchell’s music has evolved into a musical phenomenon. As I mentioned before, it’s this really cool jazz/indie/folk/singer-songwriter fusion that is extremely catchy, and while the first act has all the bops, the second act uses those bops to sew the story all together. Hadestown’s biggest competition is The Prom, once again, as Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin deliver another potential winner, also full of earworms and inspirational tracks. Also, I want to deliver the biggest applause ever to Be More Chill, who are obviously going to hang onto this one nomination they have for years to come.
Will and should win: Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown
Could win: Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, The Prom
I personally think the orchestrations for Oklahoma! are brilliant. Daniel Kluger takes Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic score and reworks it for a more modern, jamboree, bluegrass-type feel. But I feel like Hadestown’s got it locked up. It’s got fascinating instrumentation (violin, cello, trombone, guitar, bass, piano, drums) to achieve this sort of hollowed-out, thrown together feel, but it also has the ability, along with the strength of the vocal arrangements, to create this gorgeous wall of sound. Hadestown has it.
Will and should win: Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown
Could win: Daniel Kluger, Oklahoma!
Best Direction of a Musical
Any of these people could win a Tony for Best Director of a Musical and I would not be upset. All five have done incredible work with this respectable set of musicals. However, since Hadestown is the favorite, and because Rachel Chavkin was not honored for her work on Great Comet, she takes home the Tony for her work on Hadestown.
Will and should win: Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Could win: Hadestown has the best chance, but literally anyone could win and I wouldn't be mad.
Best Direction of a Play
Scott Rudin pissed a lot of people off when he forced several regional and community theatres to give up the rights to other versions of To Kill a Mockingbird, before giving those theatres the rights back, on the condition that they perform exclusively Aaron Sorkin’s version. This debacle was a terrible PR move, and a lack of a nomination for Best Play was probably the Wing sticking it to Rudin. However, if there’s any consolation prize, it’s for Bartlett Sher, who directed the piece. Scott Rudin might not be winning a Tony this year, but at least they’re honoring this gigantic achievement of a play.
Will win: Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
Should win: Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
Could win: Ivo Van Hove, Network
There’s one show that has this award locked up and one show only. It’s Kiss Me, Kate, obviously. That “Too Darn Hot” is LIT. Warren Carlyle takes home his second Tony Award.
Will win: Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
Could win: David Neumann, Hadestown or Sergio Trujillo, Ain’t Too Proud
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
I am curious as to how they’ll recognize King Kong’s enormous ape puppet this year, considering the puppetry team is receiving an honorary award for their work. I am also curious to see how the enormous house set for Beetlejuice stacks up against Hadestown's intricate, moving set. I'm going to give the edge to Rachel Huack. I enjoy the use of turntables and trapdoors.
Will win: Hadestown- Rachel Huack
Could win: Beetlejuice- David Korins
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Another question is video and projection design, which is heavily utilized by a play like Network, using live cameras, cutaways, glass, and even the outside world as a set, in true Ivo Van Hove style. I think Network wins because of this, even though both sets for Gary and The Ferryman are impressive, but I feel like we should have more awards for impressive technical specs like projections. Hopefully changes (or at least more specific rulings) to the awards are coming as technology in Broadway shows is becoming more advanced.
Will win: Network- Jan Versweyveld
Could win: Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus- Santo Loquasto or The Ferryman- Rob Howell
Best Costume Design of a Musial
Beetlejuice’s costumes are spectacular: an eclectic array of monsters and ghouls. Because, you know, it’s a show about death. The next closest challenger would probably be The Cher Show, because Cher is, well, Cher. For all I know Hadestown could probably steal this one too.
Will win: Beetlejuice- William Ivey Long
Could win: The Cher Show- Bob Mackie or Tootsie- William Ivey Long
Best Costume Design of a Play
In this next round of arbitrarily picking Tony winners, we have Best Costume Design of a Play. I’m picking Mockingbird because I really hope there’s a ham costume that Scout wears.
Will win: To Kill a Mockingbird- Ann Roth
Could win: Bernhardt/Hamlet- Toni-Leslie James
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
THE SWINGING LIGHTS OF HADESTOWN. That is all. Beetlejuice would be a close second.
Will and should win: Hadestown- Bradley King
Could win: Beetlejuice- Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini
Best Lighting Design of a Play
I can see Network winning here. I can see Gary winning. I can also see The Ferryman winning. Something about that incredible show has to be honored for creating the sinister mood that is prevalent throughout the show. In a purely random call, Peter Mumford wins for The Ferryman.
Will win: The Ferryman- Peter Mumford
Could win: Network- Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden or Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus- Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Sound design in musicals is tough. I suppose it’s how well created sounds blend with existing music. If that’s the case, I could see Beetlejuice winning here, as there are LOTS of extra sounds in addition to the music. But it could also be how well the sound is transferred around the theatre, where the advantage would favor Hadestown and especially Oklahoma!, where interesting orchestrations and different theatre spaces might yield an award. All of these are reasons why I have zero clue what I’m talking about. Hadestown for the win. Again.
Will win: Hadestown- Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz
Could win: Beetlejuice- Peter Hylenski or Oklahoma!- Drew Levy
Best Sound Design of a Play
For plays, I can understand it a little bit better. I can see Network taking home yet another tech award for its pretty similar replication to the movie. I think it’s a pretty safe bet.
Will win: Network- Eric Seichim
Could win: The Ferryman- Nick Powell or To Kill a Mockingbird- Scott Lehrer
And thus ends another round of completely random, logic-based Tony predictions.
Who's your pick to win Best Musical? Leave a comment down below.
Tune in to the 73rd Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 9th at 8:00pm only on CBS.
10/12/2020 03:51:04 am
There were a lot of controversies surrounding the musical 'The Prom' when it was first announced that it was nominated for Best Musical. This is not shocking as it mainly deals with a topic that is still sensitive to most people. However, I think many people are judging the musical based on that fact alone. The Prom is actually a really great musical with a progressive plot and they deserve to be nominated. We should be able to talk about sensitive topics, even if differences might arise because this is where we learn about things that you would not learn from books.
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