Predicting the Tony Awards’ Musical Categories
I’m about as good at predicting Tony winners as I am picking lottery numbers, so take this article for what it is worth (I do better with the Oscars for some reason). That being said, it has been an exciting Broadway season and this year’s awards are looking like they will be spread over several musicals (Unlike last year’s tedious Tony Awards where Hamilton clinched most of the accolades). I think that there will be some surprises, but the betting man in me chooses these nominees as the winners on Tony Sunday.
Pasek and Paul are the team to beat come Tony night, with the potency and popularity of the Dear Evan Hansen score practically guaranteeing their win in this category. No other show has this kind of momentum, nor is any other musical enjoying this kind of exposure. “Waving Through a Window” was the first song released and people devoured it. The cast album is enjoying excellent sales, proving the whole score is infectious and relatable.
This category is a bit murkier in terms of clear outcomes. Many believe that Steven Levenson book for Dear Evan Hansen is the lock here, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that Irene Sankoff and David Hein's book for Come From Away is going to surprise us. Voters want to award this show and if Dear Evan Hansen hadn’t appeared on the scene, this would be the show to beat. It covers a topic that is still very sensitive to New Yorkers (9/11) and it expertly weaves a compelling narrative based on a true story.
Best Costume Design:
This award is a toss-up between Santo Loquasto’s lush, gay-nineties costumes for Hello, Dolly! and Catherine Zuber’s tailored elegance for War Paint. Hello, Dolly! is certainly the better reviewed of the two, but voters may want to tip their hats to this double diva extravaganza that does pay homage to looking your best. My money is on Dolly.
Best Lighting Design:
Look for this to be the place where Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 has its singular Tony lock. The kinetic lighting design of Bradley King has created a hypnotic atmosphere for this unconventional musical to unfold under. It borderlines on ethereal. Also, Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 will be given short-shrift despite being the most-nominated (and out-of-the-box) musical of the season.
Best Set Design:
Groundhog Day may very well have the most intricate and clever set of the Broadway season. So much so, in fact, that when the scenery caused trouble during previews, its intrinsic nature became all-the-more apparent. Rob Howell designed a world that kept moving, rewinding, and replaying, a playing space that is effectively (and essentially) bound to the storytelling itself.
Best Featured Actress:
As much as I believe Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos) is the deserving winner in this category (Trina is practically a lead, and Block was amazing), it is a tight race that she will most likely lose. The contest is between Jenn Collela for Come From Away and Rachel Bay Jones for Dear Evan Hansen. This may be the one other place where voters will choose to award Come From Away, but count on Rachel Bay Jones (as Evan Hansen’s struggling mother Heidi) to take the award home on Tony night.
Best Featured Actor:
The Lincoln Center revival of Falsettos was a well-received, limited engagement earlier this season, that unfortunately has closed. The fact that it is nominated for Best Revival is miracle enough, since closed shows seldom are. It will not win in that category, but it will win Andrew Rannells a Tony as Best Featured Actor. His portrayal of the dying Whizzer was a highlight of the show, a complex blend of sweet, charming, arrogant, sexy and believable.
Though this award probably deserves to go to Rachel Chavkin for her astonishingly brilliant reimagining of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 for the Broadway stage, Dear Evan Hansen may have the leg up on her. Michael Greif has staged the biggest hit of the season and will likely be awarded for his efforts. Fingers crossed for Chavkin, but I’m afraid I will be disappointed.
Word of mouth suggests that audiences are loving Bandstand more than the Tony-nominating committee does, and that Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is one of the show’s highlights. Is it enough to win Bandstand a Tony for one of its two nominations? Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’s choreography by Sam Pinkleton is more-likely to be honored, but I wouldn’t count out Bandstand entirely. A betting man will go with safer odds, so Pinkleton gets the prize.
Best Revival of a Musical:
This award goes, hands-down, to Hello, Dolly! It’s a bright, lively, feel-good revival of a beloved, iconic musical. With a powerhouse star like Bette Midler bolstering its magic (and its box office), coupled with its touring potential, this is about at certain as things get. Falsettos, if it were still running, might have surprised us, but awards of this caliber seldom go to closed shows.
Best Actor in a Musical:
When is poor Andy Karl going to win his well-deserved, long overdue Tony Award? Sadly, I think it will be another disappointing year for him, despite his excellent work in Groundhog Day. In any other season, this would be his to win. Ben Platt, however, is the favorite to win for Dear Evan Hansen. Wouldn’t this be a perfect year for a tie in this category? It would certainly be justified.
Best Actress in a Musical:
The award is already Midler’s. The two divas of War Paint (LuPone and Ebersole) split the vote on a show that hasn’t exactly received the best reviews to begin with. Midler and Hello, Dolly! both are being celebrated to the moon and back, by critics and audiences alike. How often do we get a superstar of Midler’s caliber to come back to Broadway and headline such a show? She’ll be rewarded just for doing that, but she is also pouring her life into this performance and the award is well-earned.
Is anyone really doubting that Dear Evan Hansen is going home with the Best Musical Tony? At one point, Come From Away seemed like a serious dark horse-in-the-running, but that momentum isn’t gaining as it once was. No, Dear Evan Hansen will win. It has earned it by being relevant to many generations and for the way it is inspiring those who see it.