2011 Tony Award predictions

We crunch the numbers for this year's Tony gold.

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  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Good People

  • Photograph: Simon Annand

    Jerusalem

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    The Motherf**ker with the Hat

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    The Book of Mormon

  • Photograph: Paul Kolnik

    The Scottsboro Boys

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Sister Act

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    La Bte

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    The Importance of Being Earnest

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    The Merchant of Venice

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    The Normal Heart

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Anything Goes

  • Photograph: Ari Mintz

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

  • Photograph: Paul Kolnik

    War Horse

The 2010--11 season was surprisingly rich in great plays and revivals—which we love as theatergoers, but find challenging as Tony Award prognosticators. Some calls are a cinch (hi, Book of Mormon!), while other races are really tight. Having gazed deep into our crystal ball and run the numbers, we hereby offer the breakdowns on who has the best odds of winning.

Best Play
War Horse
48%
Jerusalem
26%
Good People 21%
The Motherf**ker with the Hat
5%
The race: Although both Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem and David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People are dramaturgically superior, War Horse's astonishing puppets and blunt, emotional appeal give the show a galloping momentum.

Best Musical
The Book of Mormon 85%
The Scottsboro Boys 9%
Sister Act 4%
Catch Me if You Can
2%
The race:
What race? The Book of Mormon crossed this finish line the day it opened. The only real question is how long the show's coattails will be in other categories.

Best Revival of a Play
The Normal Heart 57%
The Merchant of Venice
26%
The Importance of Being Earnest 13%
Arcadia
2%
The race:
Larry Kramer's howl of outrage against civic negligence in the face of AIDS carries over to the present day in this superbly acted production. Merchant was sublime, but has receded from memory.

Best Revival of a Musical
Anything Goes
62%
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 38%
The race:
In an unusually thin field, the Roundabout's nostalgia trip on the S.S. Cole Porter will sail past its flashier rival revival.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem 51%
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart 21%
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat 16%
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice 10%
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest 2%
The race:
Not only is Mark Rylance giving the performance of a lifetime in Jerusalem, but he gave another performance of a lifetime in La Bte earlier this season—giving him a double edge in the strongest Best Actor category in years.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Frances McDormand, Good People 71%
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday 17%
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice 9%
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy 2%
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter 1%
The race: Celebrity + plum role + flawless performance = Tony gold for McDormand. Any other year, it would be dazzling newcomer Arianda's to lose.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me if You Can 34%
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon 28%
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon 24%
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert 13%
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys 1%
The race:
Since How to Succeed's Daniel Radcliffe is out of the picture and the newcomer Mormon boys risk canceling each other out, look for Butz—a Broadway vet with fresh tricks up his sleeve—to catch a break in this tight race.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes 48%
Patina Miller, Sister Act 37%
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You! 10%
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture 5%
The race:
With a platinum belt drowning out the (justifiable) claims that's she's not quite right for Reno Sweeney, the talented Foster charms her way into a second statuette.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart 45%
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo 27%
Yul Vzquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat 23%
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem 3%
Billy Crudup, Arcadia 2%
The race:
There's plenty of talent in this contest, but Hickey's turn is a superbly drawn portrait of pain and grace. It's too bad for Moayed, who carries large swaths of Bengal Tiger.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart 41%
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat 32%
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves 23%
Judith Light, Lombardi 3%
Joanna Lumley, La Bte 1%
The race:
Ellen Barkin has a smaller role than her two main competitors in this very tough category, but her furious Act II speech sears her into voters' minds.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 33%
Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon 32%
Adam Godley, Anything Goes 31%
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys 3%
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys 1%
The race:
This is the photo-finish category: a three-way squeaker among three very gifted, very different performers. Look for Larroquette to succeed by a nose.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 45%
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 27%
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon 21%
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 4%
Victoria Clark, Sister Act 3%
The race:
This was not a banner season for women's roles in musicals. But if Women on the Verge had all been as sexy and funny as Benanti was, it might have run a little longer.

Best Book of a Musical
The Book of Mormon, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone 79%
The Scottsboro Boys,
David Thompson 10%
Sister Act, Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane 6%
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,
Alex Timbers 5%
The race:
Voters will overwhelmingly award Mormon, probably surprised that the blasphemous spoof is also a classically structured musical. The other contenders are too risky or flawed.

Best Original Score
The Book of Mormon,
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone 50%
The Scottsboro Boys,
John Kander and Fred Ebb 45%
Sister Act,
Alan Menken and Glenn Slater 3%
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,
David Yazbek 2%
The race: This category offers The Scottsboro Boys its best odds at taking home a Tony; sentimental voters might like a chance to reward Kander and Ebb one last time. But the show will likely end up playing The Full Monty to The Book of Mormon's The Producers.

Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse 40%
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice 31%
Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart 26%
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat 3%
The race: Even those who don't care much for War Horse can't deny the unbridled beauty of its staging. But don't count out past Tony winners George C. Wolfe and Daniel Sullivan (the latter of whom benefits from also having helmed Good People).

Best Direction of a Musical
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon 69%
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys 15%
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes 9%
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 7%
The race: Hitting the heavenly heights of musical comedy, Nicholaw and Parker take home the golden idol for their laugh-a-second, nigh-perfect Mormon.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Rae Smith, War Horse 77%
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice 12%
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat 8%
Ultz, Jerusalem 3%
The race:
Smith crafted a somberly rustic, modular canvas for War Horse's seamless blend of animation, puppetry and epic visual tableaux. The set was essentially another character.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon 54%
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson 37%
Derek McLane, Anything Goes 8%|
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys 1%
The race: Donyale Werle's sensational historical clubhouse-cum-junkyard of a set deserves the prize, but Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson ran too briefly—and too long ago—to block the Mormon juggernaut. (Boritt's nomination, for basic black chairs, ranks as the committee's looniest choice this year.)

Best Costume Design of a Play
Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest 48%
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice 28%
Mark Thompson, La Bte 21%
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday 13%
The race: In a battle of period finery, the revered veteran designer Desmond Heeley has the advantage for his outstanding upholstery of Brian Bedford's Lady Bracknell.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert 72%
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon 20%
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 4%
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes 4%
The race: With Priscilla, the frocks are the show, a surreal, campy phantasmagoria of dancing cupcakes, paintbrushes and kitschy household objects magicked into fabulous couture.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse 52%
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo 27%
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice 19%
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem 12%
The race: War Horse's complex lighting plays a central role in the show, heightening the battle sequences and helping to define the shifting times, places and moods of this epic tale.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon 39%
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 30%
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys 20%
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes 11%
The race:
There's no clear front-runner here, but MacDevitt's angelic illuminations will ride the Mormon chariot to heavenly glory.

Best Sound Design of a Play
Christopher Shutt, War Horse 57%
Acme Sound Partners and Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo 19%
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter 11%
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem 3%
The race:
The sonic hell of war—not to mention the neighing and snorting of horses—came through loud and clear in Shutt's vivid aural landscape.

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon 59%
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys 27%
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me if You Can 12%
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes 2%
The race: Barely any voters are especially qualified to judge in this category, so expect Brian Ronan to benefit from the Mormon momentum trounce his opponents (including himself) soundly.

Best Choreography
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes 39%
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 36%
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys 15%
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon 10%
The race: This is an extremely close call between two revival experts. Although we favor Ashford's witty and inventive footwork, Marshall's crowd-pleasing tap and ballroom numbers will run off with the top honor.

Best Orchestrations
Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon 61%
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys 34%
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 3%
Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank, Catch Me if You Can 2%
The race: Hochman's orchestrations for The Scottsboro Boys were a marvel of intelligent economy, but he will share his 2011 Tony with Stephen Oremus for their witty work in The Book of Mormon, an essential component of the show's pastiche-driven score.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS Sunday, June 12 at 8pm.

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