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The 71st Annual Tony Awards: Editor's Predictions

Tony Awards

With The 71st Annual Tony Awards just over four weeks away, the 2017-2018 Broadway season is now hurtling towards the biggest night of the theatrical calendar as fast as you can scream "Hello, Dolly!" Nominees and nominated productions are tirelessly campaigning and poised for the upcoming ceremonies, which also include the Drama Desk Awards on June 4 and today's Drama League Awards.

I thought it might be a good idea to weigh in with my two cents - aka Editor's predictions - for some of the main (and hotly contested) categories for this year's Tony Awards. These predictions are to be taken with a pinch of salt, naturally, and have no baring on the actual outcomes of The 71st Annual Tony Awards, which will all be revealed on Sunday, June 11, 2017 from Radio City Music Hall.

As previously announced, the Awards ceremony will be hosted by Tony and Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and will be broadcast live on CBS.


BEST PLAY:

  • A Doll's House, Part 2
  • Indecent
  • Oslo
  • Sweat
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Laurie Metcalf, Jayne Houdyshell, Condola Rashad & Chris Cooper in A Doll's House, Part 2
Laurie Metcalf, Jayne Houdyshell, Condola Rashad
& Chris Cooper in A Doll's House, Part 2
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: A Doll's House, Part 2

It has been an incredible season on Broadway for new American plays, without a single London transfer in this year's nominations. Indeed, every single nominated play would be worthy of walking away with the main prize. It is also highly encouraging to see that half of the nominees were written by female playwrights. Lynn Nottage deservedly made history by picking up her second Pulitzer Prize for Sweat, which was my early favourite to take home the Tony. However, Lucas Hnath's relentless comic-drama A Doll's House, Part 2 then burst onto the scene as the last official opening of the 2017-2018 season and I feel may just sneak in and take the prize. ADH#2 is perhaps the biggest surprise hit of the Broadway season, in my opinion, written with a timelessly modern flair and exploring the possible fates of Ibsen's classic characters.


BEST MUSICAL:

  • Come From Away
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Groundhog Day
  • Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Ben Platt & Rachel Bay Jones in Dear Evan Hansen
Ben Platt & Rachel Bay Jones in Dear Evan Hansen
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Dear Evan Hansen

This category was undeniably a one-horse-race at last year's Tony Awards with the mammoth hit of Hamilton blowing the competition out of the water, but this year promises to be much more exciting! With an astonishing total of 13 new musicals to choose from this season, these four nominated musicals are already huge winners... but who will end up on top? Although Groundhog Day recently picked up the Olivier Award for "Best New Musical" in London, I would be (slightly) surprised to see it conquer at the Tonys. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and Come From Away have an equally good shot, with the latter perhaps also benefiting from a sympathetic "The little show that could..." syndrome. But my heart wants to believe that Dear Evan Hansen will still fend off the new openings of the spring and be crowned the winner on June 11. Its score, narrative and characters are the most universally appealling and I, for one, would love to champion the young (and ever impressive) songwriting duo of Pasek and Paul.


BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY:

  • August Wilson's Jitney
  • Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
  • Present Laughter
  • Six Degrees of Separation
Photo by Joan Marcus
Laura Linney & Cynthia Nixon in The Little Foxes
Laura Linney & Cynthia Nixon in The Little Foxes
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes

Congratulations to the Manhattan Theatre Club on an incredible Broadway season and earning two of the spots for "Best Revival of a Play." I believe this category will be contested between these two nominated plays - August Wilson's Jitney and Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes - but, in th end, the latter might just come out on top. Director Daniel Sullivan has put together an incredible cast with the appealing gimmick of having the lead actresses alternate in the roles of Regina and Birdie at each performance. Both Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon have pulled off this theatrical twist with apparent ease, making it seem like child's play. And with a classy set by Scott Pask, this production is both visually exquisite and mentally stimulating.


BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL:

  • Falsettos
  • Hello, Dolly!
  • Miss Saigon
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
David Hyde Pierce & Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
David Hyde Pierce & Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Hello, Dolly!

Although my heart wants to go with the touching revival of James Lapine & William Finn's Falsettos for this one, I just don't think there is any stopping the juggernaut of a star vehicle that is the Bette Midler-led revival of Hello, Dolly!. The production is the hottest ticket in town and I'm happy to say that it lives up to the hype as a gorgeously directed and choreographed throwback to the musicals of yesteryear. Director Jerry Zaks has pulled out all of his trademark old tricks of musical comedy, whilst Warren Carlyle (who I'm surprised isn't nominated himself for "Best Choreography") has excelled with this uber-talented cast. The humongous icing on the cake is the comedy master class offered up at each performance by David Hyde Pierce and Bette Midler... Simply divine!


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

  • Denis Arndt: Heisenberg
  • Chris Cooper: A Doll's House, Part 2
  • Corey Hawkins: Six Degrees of Separation
  • Kevin Kline: Present Laughter
  • Jefferson Mays: Oslo
Photo by Joan Marcus
Kevin Kline in Present Laughter
Kevin Kline in Present Laughter
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Kevin Kline

Although I'm torn between the beautifully nuanced performance by Corey Hawkins as Paul in Six Degrees of Separation and Kevin Kline's tour-de-force portrayal of Garry Essendine, I feel the voters may just veer towards Mr. Kline. Watching him take on Noel Coward is witnessing a match made in heaven. The entire production rests on his capable shoulders and he does an excellent job of straddling the farcical fence, without diving too deep into the realm of ham acting. Many have taken on the role of this self-obsessed stage idol in the past, Kline's performance, however, ranks right up there with the best of them.


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY:

  • Cate Blanchett: The Present
  • Jennifer Ehle: Oslo
  • Sally Field: The Glass Menagerie
  • Laura Linney: Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
  • Laurie Metcalf: A Doll's House, Part 2
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Laurie Metcalf in A Doll's House, Part 2
Laurie Metcalf in A Doll's House, Part 2
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Laurie Metcalf

Now, this is one of the trickiest categories to predict this year with stellar performances all around and some huge A-list names in the mix. My personal favourites would have to be Laura Linney and Laurie Metcalf, but after three previous Tony nominations failed to come up trumps, my gut tells me that this may finally be Ms. Metcalf's year. For so many years, she has labelled as "Roseanne's Friend" and all the while, her stage work has been first rate. Her portrayal of Nora is career-defining, her physical comedy is outstanding and she owns the stage at the Golden Theatre so naturally, I would love to see her finally get the nod. This category could go any way though and promises to be a tense moment on the big night!


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL:

  • Christian Borle: Falsettos
  • Josh Groban: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
  • Andy Karl: Groundhog Day
  • David Hyde Pierce: Hello, Dolly!
  • Ben Platt: Dear Evan Hansen
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen
Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Ben Platt

Andy Karl picked up the Olivier Award earlier this year for originating the role of Phil Connors in the West End premiere of Groundhog Day and, having battled through a knee injury, he has a pretty good shot at snagging the Tony Award to go with it on the mantlepiece. David Hyde Pierce also gave a very worthy, show-stealing performance as Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly!, but my money is still on Ben Platt. His portrayal of our dear Evan Hansen has burst out of the Broadway bubble and has made waves in the mainstream. We are all waving back at you, Mr. Platt!


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL:

  • Denée Benton: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
  • Christine Ebersole: War Paint
  • Patti LuPone: War Paint
  • Bette Midler: Hello, Dolly!
  • Eva Noblezada: Miss Saigon
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Bette Midler

With no disrespect intended to the other ladies in this category, who are all giving astounding performances that could walk home with a Tony Award any other year, but one lady in particular has been making headlines this Broadway season and she is the divine one. Bette Midler's stage presence and comic timing are certainly ripe for being rewarded on June 11... even though the show hardly needs any more publicity. If the Mayor of New York City was able to officially declare April 21, 2017 "Dolly Day," then I simply can't see the Tonys not following suit and declaring Bette the winner at Radio City.


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY:

  • Michael Aronov: Oslo
  • Danny DeVito: Arthur Miller's The Price
  • Nathan Lane: The Front Page
  • Richard Thomas: Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
  • John Douglas Thompson: August Wilson's Jitney
Photo by Joan Marcus
Danny DeVito in The Price
Danny DeVito in The Price
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Danny DeVito

There aren't many who could topple the glorious Nathan Lane in a Broadway season, but if I were a gambling man, my money would be on Danny DeVito. Famously short in stature and with an iconic voice to boot, DeVito's stage presence is captivating and he undeniably brought the firey ball of energy that was so essential for the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Arthur Miller's The Price to become a hit. At the end of the play, DeVito is left alone, sat centre stage and chuckling to himself as king of the castle. On June 11, it may well be a case of "He who laughs last, laughs loudest!"


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY:

  • Johanna Day: Sweat
  • Jayne Houdyshell: A Doll's House, Part 2
  • Cynthia Nixon: Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
  • Condola Rashad: A Doll's House, Part 2
  • Michelle Wilson: Sweat
Photo by Joan Marcus
Cynthia Nixon in The Little Foxes
Cynthia Nixon in The Little Foxes
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Cynthia Nixon

Now this will be an intriguing category on the big night and it is difficult to predict. However, I'm leaning towards Cynthia Nixon getting the nod (and picking up her second Tony Award) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she is nominated as an actress in a featured role and I actually saw her portrayal of Birdie Hubbard the night I attended The Little Foxes at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Although it is a smaller role than Regina, Ms. Nixon commanded just as much respect and applause for her efforts in a truly heartbreaking performance. Secondly, I feel that Ms. Nixon should also be rewarded for taking on the lead role of Regina at just as many performances - the all-important opening night aside - as her brilliant co-star Laura Linney.


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL:

  • Gavin Creel: Hello, Dolly!
  • Mike Faist: Dear Evan Hansen
  • Andrew Rannells: Falsettos
  • Lucas Steele: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
  • Brandon Uranowitz: Falsettos
Photo by Joan Marcus
Andrew Rannells with Betsy Wolfe in Falsettos
Andrew Rannells with Betsy Wolfe in Falsettos
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Andrew Rannells

This category is almost impossible to predict, so I'm just going to go with my heart on this one. I'm choosing the performance that moved me the most - to the point where I left the theatre sobbing - and that was courtesy of Andrew Rannells' performance as Whizzer in Falsettos. Despite the fact that many years have passed since the Broadway premiere of this musical and in the meantime, AIDS & HIV awareness has obviously increased dramatically. This revival never lost its sense of urgency and its bitter sting and that is largely thanks to the wonderful cast, who had us gripped from the beginning. So, this race is wide open, in my opinion, but I hope Rannells (and Falsettos) gets the recognition.


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL:

  • Kate Baldwin: Hello, Dolly!
  • Stephanie J. Block: Falsettos
  • Jenn Colella: Come From Away
  • Rachel Bay Jones: Dear Evan Hansen
  • Mary Beth Peil: Anastasia
Photo by Joan Marcus
Stephanie J. Block with Anthony Rosenthal in Falsettos
Stephanie J. Block with Anthony Rosenthal in Falsettos
More Production Photos

Editor's Prediction: Stephanie J. Block

Similar to their male counterparts, this race is also wide open and could go any way, so, as with the last category, I'm once again going with my heart and tipping Stephanie J. Block, who was arguably the strongest component of the Broadway revival of Falsettos. Despite my gender, I identified the most with her interpretation of Trina during the musical and her hilarious rendition of "I'm Breaking Down" alone could clinch the prize for Ms. Block. I wouldn't be surprised at all if voters went with either Jenn Colella or Rachel Bay Jones either, so we'll just have to wait and see...


So, those are a few of my thoughts when it comes to this year's Tony Awards. Nothing is set in stone and, of course, I may end up with quite a bit of egg on my face after the dust has settled and it's all said and done. I will say though that it's so invigorating to go into the ceremony with (nearly) all of the categories still pretty much wide open and that will certainly make for some good, primetime viewing on CBS on June 11! Happy Tonys, everybody!

- by Tom Millward

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