Harry Potter, Tina Fey, Denzel Washington, Panic! at the Disco: They could all end up sitting in the same room in six weeks, because they’re all contenders for nominations for the 2018 Tony Awards. Who’ll stand tall, and who’ll be shut out? Here are the five biggest questions about this year’s nominations, with answers set to come when nominators name their choices Tuesday morning.
1. Can any show beat “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”?
In the race for best play? Probably not. In a season that was fairly light on new plays, the sweeping two-parter “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — beloved by critics, massively popular with audiences, and poised to run as long as “Hamilton” — is this season’s clear juggernaut. It’ll easily score a nod for best play and is already tipped to win in a category that’ll likely include “Farinelli and the King,” “The Children,” and the sole American-bred contender, “Junk.”
2. But how much can “Potter” dominate in other categories?
Outside of the award for top play, “Potter” gets a whole lot of competition from a clutch of top-flight play revivals. The male acting categories look particularly competitive, with what looks like several potential nominees from shows like “Angels in America” (including Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, James McArdle), “The Iceman Cometh” (Denzel Washington, David Morse, Colm Meaney), “Lobby Hero” (Chris Evans, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Cera), “Farinelli and the King” (Mark Rylance), and more. Even the direction of a play category has some challengers to “Potter” helmer John Tiffany — mostly notably “Angels in America” director Marianne Elliott, a Tony favorite after “War Horse” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
3. What’s the biggest competition for “The Band’s Visit”?
Of the seven new musicals to hit Broadway this season, “The Band’s Visit” is clearly the awards-race favorite, parlaying a critically lauded Off Broadway run into a transfer that’s earned impressive sales for a relatively small-scale show with little preexisting name recognition. For the Tony ceremony’s big award for new musical, the show’s biggest competition comes in two of the season’s splashiest, highest-profile outings: “Mean Girls,” a much-loved teen movie adapted for the stage with the universally adored Tina Fey on board behind the scenes, and Disney powerhouse “Frozen.” “Mean Girls” seems most likely to give “Band’s Visit” a run for the trophy, given the affection for Fey and her smart-silly comedy, but “Frozen” can’t be counted out because it comes from a slew of Broadway babies, including co-composer Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”) and director Michael Grandage. (The fourth slot in the new musical category seems likely to go to “SpongeBob SquarePants,” a left-field candidate — with a score of songs by everyone from Panic! at the Disco to John Legend to David Bowie — that unexpectedly charmed snooty critics).
4. Who’s in the race for lead actress in a musical?
With Katrina Lenk, “Band’s Visit” has a major contender in the lead actress in a musical race — but boy, does she have competition. There are two potential nominees apiece in “Mean Girls” (Erika Henningsen, Taylor Louderman) and in “Frozen” (Caissie Levy and Patti Murin). Plus, there’s Jessie Mueller in “Carousel” and Lauren Ambrose in “My Fair Lady” to contend with, not to mention breakout Hailey Kilgore in “Once on This Island.” Any of them could earn a spot on the nominations list — and more than one could challenge Lenk to make the race a nailbiter.
5. Which celebs will make the cut?
Big-name actors? This season’s got ’em, and not all of them will walk away with a nomination Tuesday morning. Fey looks certain to get a nom for book of a musical, and Garfield, Washington, and Rylance, plus “Three Tall Women” cast members Glenda Jackson and Laurie Metcalf are all poised to become competitors. But while Evans and Henry, both of “Lobby Hero,” give much-appreciated performances, they’re vying for slots in a tight category. And even if Amy Schumer (“Meteor Shower”) and Uma Thurman (“The Parisian Woman”) don’t seem likely to earn nods, will nominators remember Keegan-Michael Key (“Meteor Shower”) or Blair Brown (“Parisian Woman”)? And what about John Leguizamo (“Latin History for Morons”), Joshua Jackson (“Children of a Lesser God”), John Lithgow (“Stories by Heart”), or Olivia Wilde (“1984”)? They’ll all be in play until the nominators announce their verdict Tuesday morning.
Leslie Odom, Jr. and Katharine McPhee will announce the nominations May 1 at 8:30 am ET. The 2018 Tony Awards will be handed out June 10 in a ceremony broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall.