The 2016 Tony Awards will be handed out in just over 24 hours, and my annual predictions have finally reached the production categories. These are the biggest awards of the night, as a win in one of these categories can have a massive effect on a show's box office fortunes. Shows that were struggling to find audiences prior to the Tony Awards often become sold out hits after winning, and while it cannot be proven I'd wager that most shows which win Best Revival run longer than they would have otherwise (unless the winner was already closed when the awards are handed out).
As always, I will use a combination of gut feelings and industry buzz to predict the most likely winners in each category. And if I disagree with the likely winner, I will be sure to point out which show I think is more deserving of Broadway's highest honor in my comments.
Warning: Occasional snark and plenty of speculation to follow.
Best Revival of a Play
|Mark Strong and the cast of A View from the Bridge|
Nominees: Blackbird, The Crucible, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Noises Off, A View from the Bridge
There are some very solid productions in this category, but I have trouble imagining the majority of them actually winning. While well reviewed, I think the subject matter of Blackbird (a victim of child molestation confronting the man who abused her 15 years later) is off-putting to enough voters that they will shy away from voting it Best Revival. And while The Crucible has been doing well with both critics and audiences, it is clearly the lesser of this season's two Arthur Miller revivals in most people's minds.
I absolutely adored Noises Off, and if the show was still running I think it would be a real contender to win. Anyone who has attempted comedy knows how hard it is, and the ensemble of this revival pulled off the show's physical comedy and quirky ensemble work effortlessly. But Noised Off closed back in March, being replaced at the American Airlines Theatre by the much weightier Long Day's Journey Into Night. I personally found Noises Off to be the more successful production, but if a Roundabout play wins this category it will likely be Night, which just feels like a more important and award-worthy play.
Ultimately though, I think director Ivo van Hove's avant garde production of A View from the Bridge will take this prize. Despite being closed for months, it is a production that absolutely wowed the industry this past winter thanks to its daring directorial concept and design approach. The production was so fresh and new that many critics were taken by surprise by plot points and moments of stage business that have always been in the oft-revived show. This is a production I suspect will be remembered for years to come, and will win both on its own merits and as a way to honor Ivo van Hove's impressive year of work.
Will Win: A View from the Bridge
Should Win: Noises Off
Best Revival of a Musical
|Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti share a picture-perfect embrace during Roundabout's standout She Loves Me.|
This is an outstanding category, as a convincing case could be made for any one of these shows taking home the Best Musical Revival prize. Of the four, I'd say Fiddler is the "weakest," but even then it has a towering performance by Danny Burstein and a freshly illuminating take on well-known material to its credit. It is also currently running, which probably makes it more competitive than Spring Awakening despite the latter being a much more interesting and artistically daring endeavor. Unlike some, I am not enamored with Spring Awakening as a show, but I did love Deaf West's endlessly fascinating production, which incorporated both spoken English and American Sign Language into the performance. I know a lot of industry folks were deeply moved by Awakening, and if any closed production could manage to triumph over three currently running shows it would probably be this one.
But The Color Purple and She Loves Me are both exceptional, and the current front runners. Working in The Color Purple's favor is its completely reconceived approach to the material and a sensational, likely Tony-winning performance by leading lady Cynthia Erivo. This staging caused a lot of critics to reassess The Color Purple as a piece of theatrical writing after dismissing the original production as overwrought, the hallmark of a good revival. But I do have some reservations about a couple of John Doyle's directorial choices and several of the supporting performances, while I struggle to find even one negative thing to say about the absolutely exquisite She Loves Me. Roundabouts sparkling revival is pretty much perfect, a gem of a musical romance that is one of the most transporting evenings in the theatre I've had all year. Heading into Tony season, The Color Purple was the clear favorite in this category, and may well still win, but She Loves Me has been steadily gaining steam to the point where I honestly think it will emerge as one of the happiest surprises of the night.
Will & Should Win: She Loves Me
Agree or disagree? Let me know! And don't forget to check out the rest of my 2016 Tony coverage below.