Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 Tony Award Predictions: Best Featured Actor

June is bustin' out all over, which means that we're getting down to the wire when it comes to this year's Tony Awards. Broadway's highest honors will be handed out on June 11th, and I'm here to predict which lucky performers and productions will receive them. As always, these predictions combine personal opinion, critical plaudits, and industry buzz to determine the most *likely* winner, not necessarily the most *deserving* one. If I personally would vote for someone else, I will make sure to point that out in my analysis.

Now let's tackle the first two of the eight acting races!

Best Featured Actor in a Play

John Douglas Thompson in Jitney.

Nominees: Michael Aronov, Oslo; Danny DeVito, The Price; Nathan Lane, The Front Page; Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes; John Douglas Thompson, Jitney

Again, I have unfortunately not seen any of the nominated performances in this category. However, the Featured Acting in a Play categories tend to be the biggest source of out of left field winners, so perhaps that isn't such a handicap. These are the races where star power and industry reputation have the least bearing on the outcome, as this is where Tony voters like to reward the hardworking journeyman actors who may not get the chance to headline a show but are supremely talented. Some years, it seems like being too big of a name can actively hurt a performer's chances in this category.

Which makes me think a 3rd trophy for Nathan Lane is unlikely, despite his performance being the most lauded and best remembered aspect of the starry Front Page revival. However, I don't think name recognition will hurt Danny DeVito's chances, as despite a decades-long career in TV and film The Price marked the veteran character actor's Broadway debut. DeVito is certainly a contender, as is Richard Thomas, given that The Little Foxes is one of the buzziest plays of the season. And with a history of unexpected winners in this category, I wouldn't be at all surprised if either Oslo's Michael Aronov or Jitney's John Douglas Thompson manages a win despite being on very few people's radar. In fact, in a somewhat daring move, I'm actually going to predict a win for Thompson, as I think critical appreciation for Jitney will prove surprisingly strong at the Tonys.

Will win: John Douglas Thompson, Jitney
Should win: Abstain

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Gavin Creel (right) and Beanie Feldstein, Taylor Trensch, and Kate Baldwin in Hello, Dolly!

Nominees: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!; Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen; Andrew Rannells, Falsettos; Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812; Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos

I have to say, I truly loved Mike Faist's performance in Dear Evan Hansen, especially upon second viewing. The way he subtly shifts Connor Murphy's persona in front of your eyes to match the evolving backstory Evan creates during the song "Sincerely Me" is truly something to behold, a complex bit of stage magic that appears effortless. That said, I think Faist has about zero chance of actually winning this award given his more high profile competition.

While I was absolutely blown away by Andrew Rannells in The Book of Mormon (I think he deserved the Best Actor Tony that year), I don't think his role in Falsettos showcased him to the best of his ability. Whizzer is more of a plot device than a character, and the lack of much emotional depth to play probably torpedoes any real chance Rannells has at winning. I was far more impressed with Brandon Uranowitz's work in the same show, which felt the most authentic to the period and character while also being delightfully nuanced. Unfortunately, Falsettos is long closed and while I typically don't believe vote splitting is as big an issue as some make it out to be, having two nominees from a closed show could well cancel one another out.

The true competition is between Gavin Creel and Lucas Steele. Not necessarily for me, as Lucas Steele has long been my least favorite performer in the quite good cast of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. But I seem to be in the minority, as Steele already won a Lucille Lortel Award for playing the same role in the show's original Off-Broadway incarnation. That said, Gavin Creel is a beloved member of the Broadway community who at this point feels overdue for a Tony Award. (His *stellar* work in last season's She Loves Me went criminally unrecognized by the nominations committee.) And Creel is quite good in Hello, Dolly!, combining a boyish innocence with great comic timing and a glorious tenor to bring hapless shop clerk Cornelius Hackl to vivid life. I'm predicting this is Creel's year, although Steele could still score an upset.

Will and Should Win: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!

Those are my predictions; feel free to share yours in the comments section! Check back soon for my Featured Actress predictions, and in the meantime you can catch up on the rest of my 2017 Tony Awards coverage below.

Nominations React
Best Book and Score
Best Direction and Choreography


  1. I really wish I could see one of these shows

  2. I think Gavin Creel is a lock, but I actually think Danny DeVito will win for Featured Actor In A Play. Despite mixed reception overall for The Price, his performance received unanimous praise, and The Price was already still running when the nominations were announced.

    1. DeVito could well win, but while his show was running when nominations were announced it closed soon after, and I know a lot of the out of town Tony voters come into the city in mid-to-late May and see a bunch a nominees at once, meaning they would have just missed him.