Broadway fortune tellers had it so easy last year: For every awards-season prediction, they could just point to “Hamilton.” In contrast, the 2017 race for the Tony Awards feels nearly impossible to call. With a handful of frontrunners but no overwhelming favorite, multiple contenders seem to have a real shot at their respective awards — which has made the campaigning, gossiping and competitive speculation intense enough to make a prognosticator’s head spin. Here, then, are our predictions for how Sunday night will play out — and for every winner, there’s a dark horse primed for an upset.
For the win: “Dear Evan Hansen”
For the upset: “Come From Away”
In a year full of tough calls, this is one of the toughest. “Come From Away,” the spring’s surprise challenger to season-long frontrunner “Dear Evan Hansen,” has become a sentimental favorite that’s expected to play well on the road. With no truly dominant candidate this season, voters may well spread the wealth — and one way to do that is to give the top award to “Come From Away.” But there’s reason to suspect that talk of a “Dear Evan Hansen” backlash is somewhat overstated, and the show’s awards momentum seems likely to carry it across the finish line. Whatever the outcome of the new musical race, “Dear Evan Hansen” has a lock on the awards for score (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) and book (Steven Levenson).
For the win: “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
For the upset: “Oslo”
Another nailbiter. Lincoln Center Theater’s nonprofit staging of “Oslo,” a meticulously executed political drama, has the scope and historical perspective of a more traditional Tony winner, and it’s won all the awards leading up to the Tonys. “Doll’s House, Part 2,” a cheeky, brainy Ibsen follow-up with a notably downtown sensibility, would be something of a departure for voters. But the play benefited from a savvy promotional push during Broadway’s annual spring industry conference — and it’s a commercial production, which, judging by past winners, holds some sway with ballot-checkers.
REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
For the win: “Hello, Dolly!”
For the upset: Nothing. The award goes to “Dolly!”
A megaselling success that won raves from the critics, “Hello, Dolly!” is the closest thing to a “Hamilton” that this season has.
REVIVAL OF PLAY
For the win: “Jitney”
For the upset: “The Little Foxes”
The Manhattan Theater Club’s production of “Jitney,” the August Wilson play appearing on Broadway for the first time, looks like the favorite, thanks to a strong production with a sterling ensemble cast. But don’t count out MTC’s current “Little Foxes,” which pleased a lot of Broadway theatergoers with its juicy melodrama and high-wattage, role-swapping stars, Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon.
ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
For the win: Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”)
For the upset: Andy Karl (“Groundhog Day”)
Karl is beloved on Broadway, and he’s doing great work in “Groundhog Day.” But unless a “Dear Evan Hansen” backlash takes hold, voters will reward Platt’s volcanic, star-making performance, which has become such a signature element in the production it’s hard to imagine the show without him.
ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
For the win: Bette Midler (“Hello, Dolly!”)
For the upset: Patti LuPone (“War Paint”)
LuPone has her supporters, and she’s a beloved Broadway talent, but her backers may be more vocal than numerous. The trophy looks like Midler’s to lose.
ACTOR IN A PLAY
For the win: Kevin Kline (“Present Laughter”)
For the upset: No one.
Kline has annoyed some voters by skipping the awards-season shmoozing and campaigning almost entirely, but his performance is the most broadly lauded of the actors in his category.
BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
For the win: Laurie Metcalf (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”)
For the upset: Laura Linney (“The Little Foxes”)
Metcalf is well-liked on Broadway, and she turns in a smart, urgent performance as post-door-slam Nora Helmer. Theater folks have been itching to hand her an award for years — but then, the same could be said for Linney, who, like Metcalf, has been nominated four times at the Tonys but never won.
FEATURED ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
For the win: Gavin Creel (“Hello, Dolly!”)/Rachel Bay Jones (“Dear Evan Hansen”)
For the upset: Andrew Rannells (“Falsettos”)/Jenn Colella (“Come From Away”)
Even Midler’s detractors — and there are a few — loved Creel in “Dolly!,” and the appealing Jones has a killer scene toward the end of “Evan Hansen.” But Colella has been working the campaign trail, and she’s got the standout role in “Come From Away” as a pioneering pilot. Rannells, meanwhile, gets some love for his part in the revival of “Falsettos.”
FEATURED ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A PLAY
For the win: Danny DeVito (“The Price”)/Cynthia Nixon (“The Little Foxes”)
For the upset: John Douglas Thompson (“Jitney”)/Condola Rashad (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”)
DeVito charmed Broadway with his comic scene-stealing in “The Price,” and Nixon’s affecting performance as the fluttery Birdie surprised a lot of audience members who only know her as a type-A Miranda. But Rashad does standout, idiosyncratic work in “Doll’s House, Part 2,” and Thompson, a favorite in the theater community, was the anchor of the much-lauded “Jitney” cast.
DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
For the win: Rachel Chavkin (“Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”)
For the upset: Michael Greif (“Dear Evan Hansen”)
“Great Comet” is most appreciated for the immersive audacity of its production — for which Tony credit will likely go to director Chavkin (as well as to set designer Mimi Lien, who seems sure to take home an award). However, Greif, who gives “Evan Hansen” his trademark aesthetic, seems to have a good shot too, because somehow the man who directed “Rent” and a slew of other influential shows has never won a Tony. It’s not clear, however, just how many voters are aware of that.
DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
For the win: Bartlett Sher, “Oslo”
For the upset: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Jitney”
Sher’s fleet, clarifying, near-choreographic work on “Oslo” seems likely to win over voters. The other contender seems to be Santiago-Hudson, who could triumph for the tight ensemble work he coaxed from the cast of “Jitney.”