The 2016 Tony Awards get closer every day, and we are now deep into my annual prediction article series. Having already tackled some of the behind the scenes races and the Featured Actors, today the hardworking Featured Actresses get their time in the spotlight. As always, I will do my best to predict who is the most likely to win, and if I feel another individual is more deserving than the likely winner I will make sure to point them out. Read on to find out my thoughts on some of this year's most exciting races!
Warning: Occasional snark and plenty of speculation to follow!
Best Featured Actress in a Play
Nominees: Pascale Armand, Eclipsed; Megan Hilty, Noises Off; Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans; Andrea Martin, Noises Off; Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed
This category is stacked with some amazing talent, to the point where it would be difficult to argue against any of the nominated actresses winning. When you have a category where two-time Tony-winner Andrea Martin appears to be the least competitive entrant, you know you are dealing with some amazing performances.
Personally, my money is on Megan Hilty, who took the same general outline that helped Annaleigh Ashford win this category last year (quirky oddball character in an ensemble farce) and turned it up to 11, resulting in one of the most consistently side-splitting performances I've ever seen. Every single gesture and inflection of Hilty's was perfectly calibrated for maximum comedic effect, and I don't think a performer has generated a higher number of belly laughs on Broadway since the original company of The Book of Mormon. Both Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh are excellent in Eclipsed, and I would be genuinely happy for either actress to win, but I suspect this is a case where vote splitting actually will make both performers less competitive than they would be if either had been nominated on their own. And while I suspect many people have a deep respect for Jayne Houdyshell's nuanced, naturalistic performance in The Humans, I think Hilty generated more excitement in a role that seems to scream Tony Award.
Will & Should Win: Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Special Mention: Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Nominees: Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple; Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton; Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me; Jennifer Simard, Disaster!; Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along
With all due respect to the other nominees, there is a runway favorite in this category, and her name is Renee Elise Goldsberry. The actress is simply sensational as the fiercely independent Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, whether she's encouraging her sisters to "work" during "The Schuyler Sisters" or trying to entice Hamilton away from said work during "Take a Break." And her showstopping, jaw dropping performance of "Satisfied" is absolute perfection, the kind of legendary turn that recalls what it must have been like to witness Audra McDonald sing "Your Daddy's Son" in the original company of Ragtime.
That is not to say the other actresses aren't deserving. Adrienne Warren is a standout during her two big numbers in Shuffle Along, and gains extra points for the role being such a complete 180 from her last Broadway appearance in Bring It On. I have long admired Jane Krakowski for her impeccable comedic timing on the TV shows 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and she demonstrates an unbelievable range of emotion and skill during her supporting turn in Roundabout's enchanting revival of She Loves Me. I will admit to being less taken with Danielle Brooks' somewhat one-note performance in The Color Purple, but the actress is undeniably talented and certainly earned her place among this year's nominees. And while I didn't see Jennifer Simard in Disaster, the video of her final performance making the rounds proves that she was a force to be reckoned with. In another year, any of these women might be a front runner, but this year it is all about Goldsberry.
Will & Should Win: Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Special Mention: Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check back soon for my thoughts and predictions on the Best Actor and Actress races. Plus, catch up on the rest of my 2016 Tony Award coverage by clicking on the links below: