Even way back in the spring of last year, before the 2015-16 season had even started, the question about the Tony Awards was never whether “Hamilton” would win big at the ceremony. The question was — and still is, in the runup to the June 12 broadcast hosted by James Corden — which trophies won’t the Broadway juggernaut take home? Based on conversations with Tony voters, industry chatter and gut instinct, here are Variety‘s entirely unscientific predictions.
THE ONES ‘HAMILTON’ HAS A LOCK ON
Best Book of a Musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Best Original Score (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Among the New York theater industry, “Hamilton” fatigue is real. But it won’t stop the show from winning the evening’s all-important new musical trophy, plus the book and score awards for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. (The latter two prizes are usually handed out during the pre-telecast round of awards, which means that fans eager to see Miranda step to the podium during the national telecast may have to wait until the end of the night.)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Daveed Diggs)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Renee Elise Goldsberry)
Diggs — a Broadway newcomer who raps a mile and minute, sometimes with a French accent — is competing with two of his co-stars (Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff) for featured actor, but everyone seems to agree he’s the breakout star. Goldsberry, too, is the obvious choice, for her galvanizing turn as the strong, brainy Angelica Schuyler.
Best Director (Thomas Kail)
Kail gets an added boost of goodwill from his January TV gig, “Grease: Live,” which gave the live TV musical format a shot in the arm.
Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire)
He make hip-hop work on Broadway, which hasn’t happened since — well, since Miranda’s last Tony winner, “In the Heights.”
THE WILD CARDS
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Miranda’s up for this one, but so is his co-star Leslie Odom, Jr., whose turn as Hamilton nemesis Aaron Burr is generally considered the superior performance. Most people believe Odom will win, but there’s also a chance that Danny Burstein (“Fiddler on the Roof”), a longtime Broadway favorite who’s never won Tony, might sneak in. He might do so for two reasons: One is that Miranda and Odom might split the “Hamilton” vote; the other is that Odom has stirred up some resentment among some producers for his role in advocating for a profit-sharing deal for the original cast members of “Hamilton.”
Variety’s pick: Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Hamilton”)
No one would deny that “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler does excellent work in ensuring the show moves smoothly onstage, but some in the industry think it’s a little over-choreographed. Momentum seems to have gathered behind Savion Glover, the tap genius who does some jaw-dropping work in “Shuffle Along.”
Variety’s pick: Savion Glover (“Shuffle Along”)
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
There are a couple of ways the night could go. Voters might just check off the design awards for “Hamilton” right down the line, but there’s a decent chance that one, two or even three of these awards could go to others shows. There’s a strong swell of support, for instance, for David Rockwell’s sets in “She Loves Me” (and Rockwell, a much-liked Broadway regular, has never won a Tony), while costume designer Ann Roth and lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer get a lot of props for their work in “Shuffle Along.”
Variety’s picks: David Rockwell (“She Loves Me”) for set design, Ann Roth (“Shuffle Along”) for costume design, Howell Binkley (“Hamilton”) for lighting
THE ONE ‘HAMILTON’ WON’T WIN
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
With five formidable contenders in this category (including Philippa Soo of “Hamilton”), it’s a tough race. But ever since “The Color Purple” opened in December, Cynthia Erivo has seemed to have a lock on the trophy for her titanic performance in the lead role of Celie.
Variety’s pick: Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”)
AND THE OTHER AWARDS GO TO…
Best Revival of a Musical
The Roundabout Theater Company’s “She Loves Me” earned raves for its jewel-box perfection, so that one’s a possibility. But in all likelihood the win will go to “The Color Purple,” a not-terribly-fondly-remembered 2005 musical given a genuinely transformative new staging by director-designer John Doyle.
Variety’s pick: “The Color Purple”
Although Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed” earned some real respect, the hands-down favorite is “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s nuanced look at one family’s tight, tumultuous bond.
Variety’s pick: “The Humans”
Best Revival of a Play
Director Ivo van Hove has two well-received Broadway productions (“A View from the Bridge,” “The Crucible”) in competition in this category. The more recent “Crucible” is fresher in everybody’s minds, but more people went gaga for “View,” a stripped-down take culminating in a memorable staging coup. The Roundabout’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” gets a few mentions here and there, but one of the van Hove productions seems sure to clinch it.
Variety’s pick: “A View from the Bridge”
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
This one’s a tough race, with formidable contenders including Jessica Lange (“Long Day’s Journey”), Lupita Nyong’o (“Eclipsed”) and Michelle Williams (“Blackbird”). Nyong’o appears to be a fan favorite, but the balance seems to have tipped toward Lange.
Variety’s pick: Jessica Lange, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
The sentimental favorite here is Frank Langella, at the center of the play “The Father.” He seems the one to bet on at the moment, but Mark Strong (“View”) has supporters, as does Jeff Daniels (“Blackbird”), though to a lesser degree.
Variety’s pick: Frank Langella (“The Father”)
Best Actress in Featured Role in a Play
Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Most of Broadway’s chatterers believe these two awards will go to Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney, two hardworking New York stalwarts doing the kind of un-flashy but stellar work for which they’re widely beloved. But there are a couple of potential spoilers, in the form of actress contender Saycon Sengbloh (“Eclipsed”) and actor candidate Michael Shannon (“Long Day’s Journey”)
Variety’s picks: Jayne Houdyshell for actress (“The Humans”), Reed Birney (“The Humans”) for actor
Best Direction of a Play
With “View from the Bridge” and “The Crucible” on Broadway and David Bowie musical “Lazarus” Off Broadway, it seems likes it’s director Ivo van Hove’s season. But a lot of industry types also call out the deserving work of Joe Mantello, who’s as responsible for the subtly devastating impact of “The Humans” as playwright Karam. He also gets props from supporters for his unswerving focus on new work rather than revivals.
Variety’s pick: Ivo van Hove (“A View from the Bridge”)