As always, these predictions represent my best synthesis of personal opinion, critical acclaim, and Tony trends. There is always the possibility an extremely close vote could cause certain categories to expand beyond the traditional 5 nominees, and although I don't expect that to happen I will still be picking a Wildcard performer in each race. The Wildcard is the person I think the most likely to force a category expansion, or unseat one of my official picks. Now on with the show!
Best Actor in a Musical
|Ben Platt as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen.|
The only person who offers any kind of threat to Platt is Groundhog Day's Andy Karl, fresh off an Olivier Award win for the same role and much in the news of late due to an unfortunate onstage injury. Karl is quite good as the acerbic Phil Connors, his innate likability helping get the audience on Phil's side long before the events of the show turn him into a decent human being. The performance isn't quite in the same league as Platt's (no leading man is this year), but it is more than enough to ensure the beloved Broadway stalwart a nomination.
The performers rounding out this category aren't as obvious, but I'm reasonably confident Josh Groban will find himself Tony-nominated for his Broadway debut in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. I also think Jon Jon Briones will be nominated for his seductively charismatic work as Miss Saigon's Engineer; if a whitewashing controversy couldn't stop original Engineer Jonathan Pryce from winning a Tony, having an equally good and ethnically appropriate actor has to be good for at least a nomination. And as much as I personally dislike Christian Borle's acting, the two-time Tony-winner will probably be nominated for one of his two qualifying roles this year, hopefully the more subdued and less hammy Falsettos.
As for dark horses, I would keep my eye on A Bronx Tale's Nick Cordero, a previous nominee for his work in the short lived Bullets Over Broadway, and one should never rule out David Hyde Pierce, who is playing opposite Bette Midler in one of the buzziest shows of the season. (Remember, Jake Gyllenhaal is not eligible as the producers of Sunday in the Park with George withdrew the show from Tony consideration.)
Nominees: Christian Borle, Falsettos; Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon; Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812; Andy Karl, Groundhog Day; Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Wildcard: Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
Best Actor in a Play
|Kevin Kline in Present Laughter.|
This category is almost completely wide open, as no play's leading actor has broken out in the way that nets you awards consideration. The one exception is Kevin Kline, who is a lock for his expert comedic skills in the latest revival of Present Laughter. The question is who will join him.
Significant Other provided quite the meaty role for Gideon Glick as a gay millennial struggling with existential angst as he loses his best friends to their romantic partners. Despite the play's premature closing, I suspect Glick will be remembered by the nominating committee. I also have to imagine that Academy Award-nominee Mark Ruffalo will be nominated for his work in Roundabout Theatre Company's well-liked revival of Arthur Miller's The Price. And while some found The Present off-putting, its leading man Richard Roxburgh did fine work in a very tricky part.
Rounding out the category is most likely Denis Arndt, the septuagenarian actor who made his Broadway debut this past fall opposite Mary-Louise Parker in Heisenberg. But at the same time, I have to believe past Tony-winner Jefferson Mays is at least in contention for his work in Oslo, although that show has struggled to build much awards momentum despite a clutch of positive reviews. And a nomination for Simon McBurney would be a way for Tony voters to recognize the actor/director/writer for his unique (and well reviewed) solo show The Encounter without having to nominate the play itself.
Nominees: Denis Arndt, Heisenberge; Gideon Glick, Significant Other; Kevin Kline, Present Laughter; Richard Roxburgh, The Present; Mark Ruffalo, The Price
Wildcard: Simon McBurney, The Encounter
Best Actress in a Musical
|Bette Midler as the title character in Hello, Dolly!|
Yet again, this season brought us some sensational leading lady performances in an eclectic array of musicals. The name currently on everyone's lips is Bette Midler for headlining the smash hit revival of Hello, Dolly! Composer Jerry Herman reportedly turned down multiple offers to revive the show due to his dissatisfaction with the actresses under consideration for the title role, but was instantly sold when the Divine Miss M was mentioned. As Midler's sensational star turn has been greeted with ecstatic reviews, including a rave in The New York Times the likes of which head critic Ben Brantley rarely gives, it appears Herman's instincts were correct. Midler is a guaranteed nominee and probable winner, although she does face some stiff competition.
While War Paint's chances of being nominated in the production and writing categories are shaky, there's absolutely no way Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole miss out on Best Actress nods. Excluding either would be the very definition of a snub. And Anastasia's leading lady Christy Altomare has received both an Outer Critic's Circle and Drama Desk nomination this week, making it extremely likely that Tony voters will follow suit. And while she has failed to make an appearance among the nominees in any of the guild awards, I really have trouble imagining Miss Saigon's extraordinary Eva Noblezada being left out on Tony Tuesday.
Luckily for all of the above performers, Glenn Close is not eligible for a Tony this year, as she already won one for her absolutely transcendent Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard when the show originally premiered. And Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos), Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), and Jennifer Laura Thompson (Dear Evan Hansen) have all been deemed supporting actresses, so look for them to make an appearance in that category. If anyone is going to unseat one of the above performers, it's going to be two-time nominee Laura Osnes for the late season entry Bandstand.
Nominees: Christy Altomare, Anastasia; Christine Ebersole, War Paint; Patti LuPone, War Paint; Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!; Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Wildcard: Laura Osnes, Bandstand
Best Actress in a Play
|Laura Linney (left) and Cynthia Nixon in The Little Foxes.|
This category is the most exciting it's been in years, thanks to a welcome increase in female fronted plays. The always excellent Allison Janney seems like a shoe-in for her work in Six Degrees of Separation. Similarly, it appears A Doll's House: Part 2 will give Tony favorite Laurie Metcalf another chance to win the elusive statuette, even as it struggles to catch on at the box office. And let's not forget Heisenberg's Mary-Louise Parker, who scored across the board raves for her complex portrayal of a possibly unstable woman in Simon Stephens' two-hander.
After that, the rest of the nominations could go several ways. Laura Linney has received both Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle nods for her dual roles in Manhattan Theatre Club's The Little Foxes, which makes a Tony nod feel almost inevitable (her costar Cynthia Nixon, who alternates in the same roles as Linney, has oddly been ruled a supporting actress). Cate Blanchett and Sally Field are also in the mix, as even though their respective vehicles The Present and The Glass Menagerie proved to be divisive productions, both actresses scored strong reviews for their individual contributions. While Field did well with the guilds, I actually think Blanchett has the better chance at a Tony nod, as she is not competing against the memory of a very recent, well loved production of the same play the way Field is.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, The Present; Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation; Laura Linney, The Little Foxes; Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House: Part 2; Mary-Louise Parker, Heisenberg
Wildcard: Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
And there you have my 2017 Tony nominee predictions. Due to a lack of time and overwhelming number of options I will not be predicting the supporting actor and actress nominees this year, but will predict the winners once we know who the contenders are. Until Tuesday, feel free to leave any thoughts you might have in the comments, and check back once the nominees are announced to find out my thoughts!