Now that we finally know what “Shuffle Along” is, Broadway can get down to what it does best: gossiping and prognosticating about awards season. With nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards set to be announced May 3, here are seven things to look out for on Tuesday morning.
1. All “Hamilton,” all the time.
The Tony nominations domination of the season’s megahit, “Hamilton,” is taken as a fait accompli. Can it match the record 15 nominations earned by “The Producers” in 2001 and “Billy Elliot” in 2009? In that respect, “Hamilton” is handicapped by the lack of a sound design category, which existed in 2009 (and was won by “Billy”) but was eliminated from the Tonys in 2014. Whether “Hamilton” can approach the record depends on how deep nominators draw from the musical’s supporting actor candidates. (See No. 7.)
2. Best Musical: Sure things and uncertainties
With “Shuffle Along” now deemed a new musical after a period of uncertainty, the show seems sure to go head to head with “Hamilton” for the Tonys’ top trophy. “Waitress” also looks poised to grab a nom. But that’s where the certainties end. The final slot (or slots, depending on how the nomination voting goes) seem most likely to go to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first Broadway success in years, “School of Rock,” or to Gloria Estefan bio “On Your Feet!” “American Psycho,” which divided critics but has its adherents, could be a dark horse.
3. Best Musical Revival: Tight race
With “Shuffle Along” no longer a factor, this category looks sewn up. “The Color Purple,” “She Loves Me,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Spring Awakening” will vie for the prize. All were well received, and each could make a strong claim for the title.
4. Best Play: Has “The Humans” eclipsed “Eclipsed”?
There are two sure nominees for this one: “The Humans” and “Eclipsed.” Both earned strong notices, but “Eclipsed” seemed to have receded from awareness somewhat, which makes “Humans” look like the one to beat. The respected “King Charles III” will get a nod, with the fourth slot probably going to “The Father.”
5. Lead Actress in a Musical: Fiercely competitive
Voters are going to have a tough time with this one. Audra McDonald (“Shuffle Along”), Jessie Mueller (“Waitress”) and Laura Benanti (“She Loves Me”) each has a Tony to her name (or six, if you’re Audra), and will probably be nominated again, facing off with Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”), considered by many to be the frontrunner for the award. Likely to round out the category is Carmen Cusack of “Bright Star” — although Ana Villafane of “On Your Feet!” might slide in there as well.
6. Lead Actress in a Play: Names you know
Notable actresses stand poised to dominate this race. Jessica Lange (“Long Day’s Journey Into Night”), Lupita Nyong’o (“Eclipsed”), Michelle Williams (“Blackbird”) and Laurie Metcalf (“Misery”) could all nab noms. Linda Lavin (“Our Mother’s Brief Affair”) or Cicely Tyson (“The Gin Game”) have the potential to take slot five.
7. Supporting acting categories: Lots of nominees from a handful of shows
The supporting actress in a play category could be filled by just two shows, “The Humans” and “Eclipsed,” each with three solid contenders for a nomination. “Hamilton,” meanwhile, has a wealth of possibilities for the supporting actor in a musical race, including Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs and Jonathan Groff. Ditto “Shuffle Along,” whose four male stars — Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry — are all featured players.