Predicting the 2019 Tony Winners

Predicting the 2019 Tony Winners

As I typically do, I have made my pre-Tony Award predictions, my educated guesses as to who will win in each category. This is not particularly my forte, but I am going to do my best here. If anything, it should at least make for some entertaining reading to see just how wrong I can be about what the masses like. How do I reconcile that perception with my own personal opinions and come up with a choice in each category? I just listen to my gut that will most likely be bursting with crow on Monday morning. 

Anyway… here goes: 

Best Play
Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Taylor Mac
Ink by James Graham
What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck

The Ferryman has demonstrated its staying power, opening early in the season and continuing to capture audiences despite more recent, flashier plays taking the spotlight throughout the season. Jez Butterworth’s play was a critical darling when it opened, receiving some of the best reviews of the season. For a play, it packs a lot in for the price of admission, including an ensemble cast the size of which you rarely see for a non-musical. For all these reasons, expect to see it triumph in the Best Play category this year. 

Best Musical
Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations
The Prom

This season has produced thee terrific musicals in The PromTootsie, and Hadestown. The other two titles in this category are not without their merits, but neither are as completely satisfying as an original musical as the aforementioned trio. In the end, Hadestown is so fresh, unconventional, and completely thrilling that it is hard to imagine either of the other two besting it in the Best Musical category. Every element of the production, from Anaïs Mitchell’s infectious New Orleans jazz-inspired score to Rachel Chavkin’s indelible direction, Hadestown pulls ahead of the pack.  


Best Revival of a Musical
Kiss Me, Kate!
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

Neither production in the Revival of a Musical category is perfect, but one takes the lead in its daring reimagination of a classic. This is Oklahoma! like we’ve never seen or heard it before, and for that reason alone it will win the category. 

Best Revival of a Play
All My Sons by Arthur Miller
The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley
Burn This by Lanford Wilson
Torch Song by Harvey Fierstein
The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan

This category is, admittedly, the hardest one to decipher. Three of the nominees : The Waverly GalleryThe Boys in the Band, and Torch Songare no longer with us. This typically doesn’t bode well for Tony wins, as voters seem to skew toward celebrating shows that are still running. This season, however, I think we are likely to see one of these three closed productions go home with the Tony, with The Waverly Gallery having the biggest edge. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas (The Prom)
Derrick Baskin (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Alex Brightman (Beetlejuice)
Damon Daunno (Oklahoma!)
Santino Fontana (Tootsie)

This is Santino Fontana’s year. Not only has he been giving exemplary performances in every show leading up to the tour de force he pulls off in Tootsie, the character for which he is nominated is complex and enjoys the biggest journey. The only other performance of this size and magnitude is Derrick Baskin’s for Ain’t Too Proud, but Fontana is the closest thing to a lock we have going into this awards ceremony. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, (The Cher Show)
Caitlin Kinnunen (The Prom)
Beth Leavel (The Prom)
Eva Noblezada (Hadestown)
Kelli O'Hara (Kiss Me, Kate!)

Stephanie J. Block is long overdue for a Tony Award, and though I wish the vehicle for which she is finally going to win had been a stronger demonstration of her myriad talents, I am nonetheless pleased that she is poised to win this Sunday. She’s an amazing Cher, and sings the music as if the titular diva were actually in the room with us. That is no easy feat. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Paddy Considine (The Ferryman)
Bryan Cranston (Network)
Jeff Daniels (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Adam Driver (Burn This)
Jeremy Pope (Choir Boy)

Bryan Cranston wins here, not because Network is a great play or his character is particularly well-written, but because Cranston is ringing every nuance he can out of this role through his own machinations. This a scenario where the performer elevates the material. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Annette Bening (All My Sons)
Laura Donnelly (The Ferryman)
Elaine May (The Waverly Gallery)
Janet McTeer (Bernhardt/Hamlet)
Laurie Metcalf (Hillary and Clinton)
Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me)

Elaine May gave the performance of her career in The Waverly Gallery, and that is saying something when you consider all of the great work she has done over the years. Even though the show is no longer running, voters are going to want to reward both her performance and her career.

Best Book of a Musical
Dominique Morisseau (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Scott Brown and Anthony King (Beetlejuice)
Anaïs Mitchell (Hadestown)
Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin (The Prom)
Robert Horn (Tootsie)

Robert Horn is making people laugh, think, discuss, and debate with his book for Tootsie. Santino Fontana’s performance and Horn’s work are the show’s two biggest assets. The only possible surprise might be Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin’s book for The Prom, which is timely, heartwarming and witty. Both are deserving, but Tootsie has the slight edge. 

Best Original Score
Joe Iconis (Be More Chill)
Eddie Perfect (Beetlejuice)
Anaïs Mitchell (Hadestown)
Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Prom)
Adam Guetel (To Kill a Mockingbird)
David Yazbek (Tootsie)

We have never quite heard anything on Broadway like Hadestown, and Anaïs Mitchell has captured something musically unique and innovative in its score. Innovation is often (if not always) a recipe for Tony success. 

Best Direction of a Musical
Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown)
Scott Ellis (Tootsie)
Daniel Fish (Oklahoma!)
Des McAnuff (Ain't Too Proud)
Casey Nicholaw (The Prom)

Speaking of innovation, what director out there is pushing the boundaries of musical theatre quite the way that Rachel Chavkin is? Hadestown is a marvel, a study in how a director can leave their indelible stamp on a show. 

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold (Ink)
Sam Mendes, (The Ferryman)
Bartlett Sher (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Ivo van Hove (Network)
George C. Wolfe (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)

Another tough category here. Every nominee is a formidable talent. So much, however, has been made over Ivo van Hove’s work in staging the intense Network, I think he will pull ahead of the pack here. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
André De Shields (Hadestown)
Andy Grotelueschen (Tootsie)
Patrick Page (Hadestown)
Jeremy Pope (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Ephraim Sykes (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)

The amount of pure energy, not to mention the expert craftsmanship that André De Shields is putting forth in Hadestown makes him the rightfully obvious choice for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Just watch the way he inhabits the music, almost rides it. It is a special performance. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lilli Cooper (Tootsie)
Amber Gray (Hadestown)
Sarah Stiles (Tootsie)
Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!)
Mary Testa (Oklahoma!)

With all due respect to each of the nominees and their talents, this comes down to two finalists and could go either way. Ali Stroker and Amber Gray are both boiling over with energy to spare, each giving a unique spin on classic characters. Gray, however, is the driving force of Hadestown, and that force is too be reckoned with. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Bertie Carvel (Ink)
Robin De Jesús (The Boys in the Band)
Gideon Glick (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Brandon Uranowitz (Burn This)
Benjamin Walker (All My Sons)

I am leaning toward Gideon Glick on this one, especially since he so convincingly plays a youngster, yet is well int adulthood. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Fionnula Flanagan (The Ferryman)
Celia Keenan-Bolger (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Kristine Nielsen (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)
Julie White (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)
Ruth Wilson (King Lear)

Celia Keenan-Bolger will most-likely win for the same reason that I think Glick deserves to win. She’s also been nominated before, and it is time we give Keenan-Bolger her due. 

Best Choreography
Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy)
Warren Carlyle (Kiss Me, Kate!)
Denis Jones (Tootsie)
David Neumann (Hadestown)
Sergio Trujillo (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)

Will it be Warren Caryle, who makes a meal out of the “Too Darn Hot” number in Kiss Me, Kate, or will it be Sergio Trujillo, who makes a feast out of an entire evening of electrified dance for Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations? I’d like the think the latter will emerge the victor, but I am almost certain the former will win. 

Best Orchestrations
Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose (Hadestown)
Larry Hochman (Kiss Me, Kate!)
Daniel Kluger (Oklahoma!)
Simon Hale (Tootsie)
Harold Wheeler (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)

The revival of Oklahoma! is certainly unique, and part of what sets it apart from other revivals of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals is how Daniel Kluger’s orchestrations make a classic feel fresh, new, and unlike how we’ve heard the show before. Kluger deserves to win this. 

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Peter England (King Kong)
Rachel Hauck (Hadestown)
Laura Jellinek (Oklahoma!)
David Korins (Beetlejuice)

Beetlejuice: It is fun, clever, and it just deserves to win this! 

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Miriam Buether (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Bunny Christie (Ink)
Rob Howell (The Ferryman)
Santo Loquasto (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)
Jan Versweyveld (Network)

I am at a loss on what to choose here. Instead of endeavoring any real educated guess here, I’m just going to go with my gut and say that Bunny Christie’s set for Ink tickled me in its utility and the fun way that creates playing areas, all while setting the tone of a busy newsroom. 

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Michael Krass (Hadestown)
William Ivey Long (Beetlejuice)
William Ivey Long (Tootsie)
Bob Mackie (The Cher Show)
Paul Tazewell (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)

Who is going to nominate the great Bob Mackie for a Tony Award for Best Costumes and not give it to him? Sequin for sequin, this is his award. 

Best Costume Design of a Play
Rob Howell (The Ferryman)
Toni-Leslie James (Bernhardt/Hamlet)
Clint Ramos (Torch Song)
Ann Roth (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)
Ann Roth (To Kill a Mockingbird)

I really hope Ann Roth wins for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Her work here is memorable, slightly terrifying, and sets the perfect tone.  

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski (Beetlejuice)
Peter Hylenski (King Kong)
Steve Canyon Kennedy (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Drew Levy (Oklahoma!)
Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz (Hadestown)

Steve Canyon Kennedy is my guess here, though I am consistently an uninformed guess-maker here sound design is concerned. Ain’t Too Proudoften plays like a concert, and the sound is always crisp and clean. That’s all I have to offer. 

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork (Ink)
Scott Lehrer (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Fitz Patton (Choir Boy)
Nick Powell (The Ferryman)
Eric Sleichim (Network)

Again, not my expert area, but I think Scott Lehrer wins for To Kill a Mockingbird. Just a hunch, but it does incorporate that lovely Adam Guettel score that is masterfully played throughout the show to great effect. 

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams (The Cher Show)
Howell Binkley (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations)
Bradley King (Hadestown)
Peter Mumford (King Kong)
Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini (Beetlejuice)

Another tough one, but Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini’s work is essential to Beetlejuice’s illusions working so effectively. 

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin (Ink)
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus)
Peter Mumford (The Ferryman)
Jennifer Tipton (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden (Network)

I am going with Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden’s work on Network for this one, especially since the show’s premise demands a high tech production. The lighting in Network almost seems to propel the frantic storyline.

There you go! I will make no bets because I am sure that at least a third of these will be wrong. Only Sunday will tell. 

Happy Tony-viewing. 

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