It’s go time: Tony season officially kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning (8:30 a.m. ET) when “Hamilton” alum Brandon Victor Dixon and two-time Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth take to the podium at the Library of the Performing Arts in Manhattan to announce the nominations for the 2019 Tony Awards. Here are all of our biggest predictions, and the seven burning questions they raise.
1. Best Musical: Who gets the fifth slot?
The competition for the night’s headline award is shaping up into a three-way race between lush, arty “Hadestown,” big-laughs crowdpleaser “Tootsie” and sentimental-fave underdog “The Prom.” All three will get nominations, alongside the slick, sleek Temptations bio “Ain’t Too Proud.” But thanks to this year’s crowded field of new musical candidates, there’s likely to be one more nomination slot to fill. Does it go to “The Cher Show,” from a team of Broadway faves? Or to the viral youthquake “Be More Chill”? Or how about the cheeky movie adaptation “Beetlejuice”? That ball’s still up in the air, and we won’t know how it lands until tomorrow morning.
2. Best Play: Beyond the top three, who scores a nod?
The award for new play is another three-horse race that’ll come down to high-profile hit “To Kill a Mockingbird,” critically hailed import “The Ferryman” and the widely beloved, politically charged “What the Constitution Means to Me.” But beyond that trio of sure-fire noms, there’s at least one more slot to fill — and probably two, thanks again to a hefty crop of candidates. Bryan Cranston headliner “Network” could well snag one, and so could “Choir Boy,” the Broadway debut of “Moonlight” Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney. But the speculative behind-the-marriage portrait “Hillary and Clinton” seems just as likely to score; so does “Ink,” the just-opened look at the roots of the Murdoch media empire. We’re in toss-up territory here.
3. Best Musical Revival: Just how edgy does Broadway want its updated classics?
The musical revivals that opened on Broadway this season add up to a grand total of two, which means that nominations for both — edgy “Oklahoma!” and the less risky but still updated-for-the-times “Kiss Me, Kate” — are a foregone conclusion. “Oklahoma!” looks like the frontrunner for the award here. But will too many voters think the show goes too far in dredging up its darkness?
4. Best Play Revival: Could it be anyone’s race?
This one’s a really tough call. Two starry contenders from earlier this season, “Boys in the Band” and “The Waverly Gallery,” were well-liked and/or well-respected enough for nominators to remember them. The current “Burn This” looks set to make the cut, too, thanks to the much-lauded lead performance of Adam Driver. But there’s one more spot left — does it go to “Torch Song,” written by voter favorite Harvey Fierstein? Or to “All My Sons,” which wasn’t universally loved by critics when it opened last week? Whatever the final tally, the frontrunner for the award itself seems equally impossible to predict.
5. Lead Actor/Actress in a Play: Just how starry will it get?
Short answer: Pretty darn starry. For lead actor, we’ve got Jeff Daniels (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), Bryan Cranston (“Network”) and Adam Driver (“Burn This”) as sure things. John Litghow (“Hillary and Clinton”) is in the mix, too, and so’s Jonny Lee Miller (“Ink”). All of them could make the cut — although Paddy Considine (“The Ferryman”), Jeremy Pope (“Choir Boy”) or Tracy Letts (“All My Sons”) might snag one or two of those spots. For lead actress, it’s another mess of big names. Bet on Elaine May (“The Waverly Gallery”), Laurie Metcalf (“Hillary and Clinton”) and Glenda Jackson (“King Lear”). Kerry Washington (“American Son”) or Annette Bening (“All My Sons”) could also land a nom, although at least one of the available slots is sure to be filled by theater name Heidi Schreck (“What the Constitution Means to Me”).
6. Lead Actor in a Musical: Can anyone compete with Santino?
The street is swooning over Santino Fontana, fresh off the opening of “Tootsie” last week. His turn in the old-fashioned-in-a-good-way musical comedy looks like the performance to beat among the contenders, and right now none of the other potential nominees — Brooks Ashmanskas (“The Prom”), Alex Brightman (“Beetlejuice”), Damon Daunno (“Oklahoma!”), Derrick Baskin (“Ain’t Too Proud”), Reeve Carney (“Hadestown”) and Will Chase (“Kiss Me, Kate”) — looks likely to topple him.
7. Lead Actress in a Musical: Which theater favorite has momentum?
Look for this category to be filled with theater-fan favorites. Surefire nominee Kelli O’Hara (“Kiss Me, Kate”) is starriest of the lot, but all the rest of the likely contenders are equally well-liked around Broadway: Stephanie J. Block (“The Cher Show”), Beth Leavel (“The Prom”), Rebecca Naomi Jones (“Oklahoma!”) and Caitlin Kinnunen (“The Prom”). Watch out, too, for Eva Noblezada (“Hadestown”), who just might claim one of those spots instead.
Watch the 2019 Tony nominations on Facebook Live April 30 at 8:30 a.m. ET (5:30 a.m. PT). Hosted by James Corden, the 73rd Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Musical Hall June 9 on CBS.