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Tony Predictions 2017 — Who Will Win? Who Should Win?

By Christopher Caggiano, Contributing Writer, June 1, 2017

For some theater seasons, the outcome of the Tony Awards is slightly more predictable than for others. Last year it was all but certain that Hamilton would take nearly every category in which it was nominated. And that’s pretty much what happened.

This year, things aren’t quite as cut and dried, but there are some frontrunners. For instance, it seems pretty clear that the folks involved with Dear Evan Hansen and Hello, Dolly! can start polishing off their mantlepieces. But, hey, anything can happen, and sometimes it does.

So, here’s a game attempt at Tony prediction for some of the more prominent awards. Shrewd prognostication or shameless wishful thinking? Only time will tell.

Cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen;’ photo: Matthew Murphy.

Best Musical

WILL WIN: Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD WIN: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: War Paint

It seems clear that Dear Evan Hansen is going to take this one, although part of me wishes that we’d have one of those years in which one show wins for Best Books and Best Score (Dear Evan Hansen) while another wins Best Musical (The Great Comet). Both shows are really strong in their own ways. Dear Evan Hansen is complex and well-crafted. The Great Comet is a spectacle with heart.

Anthony Azizi, Dariush Kashani, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Aronov and Daniel Oreskes in ‘Oslo;’ photo: T. Charles Erickson

Best Play

WILL WIN: Oslo

SHOULD WIN: Sweat

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: (N/A The four nominees were by far the four best plays)

Both Oslo and Sweat are profoundly absorbing plays. Oslo is a bit more slick and crowd-pleasing, which is why it’s probably going to win. Then again, Sweat won the Pulitzer, and rightly so. It’s a bit more rough around the edges than Oslo, but that’s by design. Still, the Tony will likely go to Oslo.

David Hyde Pierce and Bette Midler in ‘Hello Dolly!;’ photo: Julieta Cervantes

Best Musical Revival

WILL WIN: Hello, Dolly!

SHOULD WIN: Hello, Dolly!

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Sunset Boulevard

This production of Hello, Dolly! was more than just a sparkling revival of a classic musical, it was a vivacious reminder of the sheer bliss of musical comedy. Will the show work without Bette Midler, though? For that very reason, I’ll be seeing the show again next month when the glorious Donna Murphy steps in for Bette for Tuesday nights and vacations.

(l. to r.) Michael Potts, John Douglas Thompson, Anthony Chisholm, Keith Randolph Smith, and André Holland in ‘Jitney;’ photo: Joan Marcus.

Best Play Revival

WILL WIN: Jitney

SHOULD WIN: The Little Foxes

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Glass Menagerie

This one’s tough. Jitney was powerful, moving, and made quite an impression on those who saw it (mostly critics and Manhattan Theatre Club subscribers). But the Tony voters tend to have short memories, which is why this one might go to The Little Foxes, which is still running.

Ben Platt in ‘Dear Evan Hansen;’ photo: Matthew Murphy.

Best Actor in a Musical

WILL WIN: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD WIN: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Bobby Conte Thornton, A Bronx Tale

This one is about as sure a thing as we have this year. Ben Platt is astounding in Dear Evan Hansen. It’s hard to imagine how this guy is able to sustain the emotional and physical drain of this role 8 times a week. Andy Karl is certainly in the running here for Groundhog Day, especially with the sympathy vote he’ll likely get from his pre-opining injury. Plus, he’s just an all-around great performer. But it’s hard to imagine this award going to anyone but Ben Platt.

Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ photo: Julieta Cervantes.

Best Actress in a Musical

WILL WIN: Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

SHOULD WIN: Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Laura Osnes, Bandstand

Two words: Star power. It’s hard to call what Bette Midler does in Dolly acting, but it certainly is a performance, and one for the ages. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole have both won twice before. And newcomers Denée Benton and Eva Noblezada aren’t getting much Tony buzz. So it’s probably Bette all the way.

Kevin Kline in ‘Present Laughter;’ photo: Joan Marcus.

Best Actor in a Play

WILL WIN: Kevin Kline, Present Laughter

SHOULD WIN: Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Gideon Glick, Significant Other

Kevin Kline and Garry Essendine are sort of a match made in heaven, and just the sort of star turn that the Tony voters gravitate toward. Kline’s performance felt under-energized and schtick-y to me. I would rather see the award go to Corey Hawkins for his charismatic turn in Six Degrees.

Laurie Metcalf in ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2;’ photo: Brigitte Lacombe.

Best Actress in a Play

WILL WIN: Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

SHOULD WIN: Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation

Here’s another one that feels pretty close to a lock. This is Tony nomination number four for the remarkable Laurie Metcalf, and it’s about time she won. Plus, she’s absolutely mesmerizing in A Doll’s House, Part 2, making Lucas Hnath’s latter-day Nora into both a comedic and a dramatic tour de force.

Taylor Trensch, Bette Midler, and Gavin Creel in ‘Hello, Dolly!;’ photo: Julieta Cervantes.

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

WILL WIN: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!

SHOULD WIN: Andrew Rannells, Falsettos

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: John Bolton, Anastasia

Gavin Creel is a very strong performer, and it’s likely he will benefit from the Hello, Dolly! mini-tsumani and pick up his first Tony Award here after two previous nominations. But I would much rather see the award go to either Andrew Rannells for Falsettos or Lucas Steele for Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Rannells was charming and moving as Whizzer. And Steele physically transforms himself into the swaggering scoundrel Anatole Kuragin.

Jenn Colella and the cast of ‘Come From Away;’ photo: Matthew Murphy.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

WILL WIN: Jenn Colella, Come From Away

SHOULD WIN: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Grace McLean, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Truth be told, I would love to see this award go to Jenn Colella. She’s a magnetic presence onstage, and has proved herself in a wide variety of roles. But much the same could be said about Rachel Bay Jones, who single-handedly made the second act of Pippin worth sitting through in the 2013 revival.

(l. to r.) Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito in ‘The Price;’ photo: Joan Marcus.

Best Featured Actor in a Play

WILL WIN: Danny DeVito, The Price

SHOULD WIN: Michael Aronov, Oslo

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Richard Topol, Indecent

Danny DeVito was a hoot in The Price, but Michael Aronov is electrifying in Oslo. Charming, sexy, dynamic. It’s like the play enters an entirely different realm when he enters the story.

Cynthia Nixon in ‘The Little Foxes;’ photo: Joan Marcus.

Best Featured Actress in a Play

WILL WIN: Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes

SHOULD WIN: Condola Rashād, A Doll’s House, Part 2

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Katrina Lenk, Indecent

Here’s another one were I’d be happy no matter who wins. Nixon is a Broadway favorite, and she’s splendid as Birdie, if somewhat less successful when she’s on as Regina. But Condola Rashād’s performance as Emmy in A Doll’s House, Part 2 is a masterful in its subtlety.

Best Book of a Musical

WILL WIN: Steven Levenson, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD WIN: Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Doug Wright, War Paint

Again, I love Dear Evan Hansen, but I’m also a huge fan of The Great Comet. This award makes me wish the Tonys had separate awards for adaptations versus original stories, as the Academy Awards do. I would give this to Dave Malloy for taking a 1,300-page novel and selecting one remarkable 70-page slice for musicalization, then adding in compelling bits from the rest of the novel to balance out the drama and the characterizations.

Best Score of a Musical

WILL WIN: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD WIN: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, War Paint

No contest. Pasek and Paul all the way. But I do wish that Frankel and Korie had at least gotten a nod for War Paint, a score that’s infinitely superior to that of Groundhog Day, and significantly better that that of Come From Away.

Best Choreography

WILL WIN: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand

SHOULD WIN: Denis Jones, Holiday Inn

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Sergio Trujillo, A Bronx Tale

This category is kind of tough, mostly because neither Dear Evan Hansen nor Hello, Dolly! were nominated. Plus the dance for my personal favorites here (Come From Away and The Great Comet) simply wasn’t that impressive. I think it will go to Andy Blankenbuehler simply because of the sheer volume of dance in Bandstand, but I’m hoping it goes to Denis Jones, whose work on Holiday Inn was genuinely the best dance of the season.

Cast of ‘Bandstand;’ photo: Jeremy Daniel.


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