2012 Tony Award predictions

If you're betting at home or in the office on the 2012 Tony Awards, follow our picks. We call the winners and losers, down to the last percentile.

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Photograph: Nathan Johnson
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
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Photograph: Courtesy of O&M
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Photograph: Nathan Johnson
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Photograph: Deen van Meer
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
9/20
Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Richard Termine
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Joan Marcus

One Man, Two Guvnors

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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Photograph: Michael J. Lutch
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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Venus in Fur

Predicting the Tony Awards is always an imperfect science. And after a season like 2011–12, with no Book of Mormon or War Horse to dominate the field, it’s even trickier. That’s why below you’ll find several close races in the major categories. Among musicals and plays, there is no obvious runaway hit, but rather a series of niche shows catering to various tastes and (luckily) finding audiences. For artists and ticket buyers that’s great: It means more options. But for pundits like us, it makes for plenty of nail-biting. Still, we kicked butt last year, so trust TONY's picks.

Best Play
Clybourne Park 46%
Other Desert Cities 41%
Peter and the Starcatcher 12%
Venus in Fur 1%
The race: Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park is far superior to Jon Robin Baitz’s soapy soapbox Other Desert Cities, but voting will still be closely divided between them. Clybourne’s 2011 Pulitzer and more recent opening gives it the edge.

Best Musical
Once 48%
Newsies 46%
Nice Work if You Can Get It 6%
Leap of Faith 0%
The race: The biggest, most lucrative musical of the year tends to beat the smaller, artier competition—unless it’s perceived as a show for kids (like Wicked and Mary Poppins). It’ll be close, but Once may well pull an upset over the Disney hit Newsies.

Best Revival of a Play

Death of a Salesman 80%
The Best Man 17%
Wit 2%
Master Class 1%
The race: Attention has been paid to Mike Nichols’s stunning, utterly faithful remounting of the classic Salesman. The production muscles out the worthy but comparatively lightweight Best Man.

Best Revival of a Musical

Follies 47%
Porgy and Bess 42%
Evita 9%
Jesus Christ Superstar 2%
The race: With Porgy and Bess still hobbled by the controversy that preceded its arrival on Broadway, look for Follies, that unsentimental sentimental favorite, to win the Tony it deserved 40 years ago.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman 51%
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors 36%
John Lithgow, The Columnist 8%
James Earl Jones, The Best Man 3%
Frank Langella, Man and Boy 2%
The race: Tragedy beats comedy. Even though Corden is a superb clown and works the crowd like a champ, Hoffman’s Willy Loman is a monument splashed with blood, sweat and tears. The rest, veteran character actors, don’t place.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur 27%
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow 26%
Linda Lavin, The Lyons 25%
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities 21%
Cynthia Nixon, Wit 1%
The race: Everyone but Nixon has a real shot in the year’s most competitive race. If Lavin’s and Channing’s Jewish dragon moms cancel each other out, Arianda’s virtuosic, star-making turn could outdazzle Bennett’s overhyped stab at Judy Garland.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies 39%
Steve Kazee, Once 36%
Norm Lewis, Porgy and Bess 22%
Danny Burstein, Follies 12%
Ron Raines, Follies 1%
The race: Kazee’s sensitive studliness bumps up the romance in Once, but it’s Jordan’s season. He bounced back from Bonnie & Clyde to star in a second new musical just months later, and his youthful charisma helped Newsies strike gold.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess 42%
Jan Maxwell, Follies 27%
Cristin Milioti, Once 20%
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It 10%
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde 1%
The race: Even though Milioti crafted one of the most vibrant, quirky characters of the season, the awesomely talented McDonald redefined the problematic Bess. It’s her Tony to lose—and she won’t.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher 41%
Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman 35%
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park 14%
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors 9%
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow 1%
The race: It’s not just Borle enjoying a Smash bump; he steals his scenes with furious élan as piratical fop Black Stache. In another year, the hilarious Shamos (or even Edden) might have a shot at it.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities 49%
Linda Emond, Death of a Salesman 36%
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher 7%
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner 5%
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly 3%
The race: Everyone in the theater industry seems to take a shine to Light, and her sharp performance as a bitter, frazzled alkie in Other Desert Cities is a perfect chance to show this consummate pro some love.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Evita 43%
Phillip Boykin, Porgy and Bess 37%
Michael McGrath, Nice Work if You Can Get It 11%
David Alan Grier, Porgy and Bess 7%
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar 2%
The race: The nominators loudly snubbed his Evita costars, but Cerveris is poised to win for his strangely soulful Perón—though Boykin deserves it more for his superbly sung and acted Crown.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Judy Kaye, Nice Work if You Can Get It 43%
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies 35%
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost 14%
Jessie Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever 7%
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once 1%
The race: If the mediocre Nice Work gets any love on Tony night, it will be for trouper Judy Kaye’s amusing turn as a Prohibition-era bluenose. There’s plenty of talent among the other contenders, but Kaye clinches it with seniority.

Best Book of a Musical
Once, Enda Walsh 53%
Newsies, Harvey Fierstein 44%
Nice Work if You Can Get It, Joe DiPietro 2%
Lysistrata Jones, Douglas Carter Beane 1%
The race: Tony favorite Harvey Fierstein did a canny job of reworking Newsies’ screenplay for the stage, but Walsh’s book—also adapted from a movie—wins for grown-up emotion and structural inventiveness.

Best Original Score
Newsies, Alan Menken and Jack Feldman 91%
Bonnie & Clyde, Frank Wildhorn and Don Black 7%
One Man, Two Guvnors, Grant Olding 1%
Peter and the Starcatcher, Wayne Barker and Rick Elice 1%
The race: More a default victory than a stamp of excellence, since Menken and Feldman’s pastiche tunes are decent if formulaic. And what are they up against? Frank Wildhorn’s least crummy score and incidental music. It’s a Memphis year.

Best Direction of a Play
Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman 90%
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park 5%
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher 4%
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors 1%
The race: If Mike Nichols doesn’t win this tacit career-achievement award for his megahit revival, the floor of the Beacon Theatre will open up and swallow every man, woman and Newsies faux-child whole.

Best Direction of a Musical
John Tiffany, Once 43%
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies 35%
Diane Paulus, Porgy and Bess 17%
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work if You Can Get It 5%
The race: The most organic and adult musical of the season, most agree, is Once, and Tiffany’s graceful, tasteful staging beats the corporate Newsies and Paulus’s reduced Porgy.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher 55%
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park 34%
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities 6%
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors 5%
The race: Peter and the Starcatcher’s actors nearly get upstaged by Werle’s whimsical Victorian toy theater. Resourcefully constructed out of found objects and cloth, the set is festooned with eclectic items, giving the production a perfect sense of children at play.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark 36%
Bob Crowley, Once 23%
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost 21%
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies 20%
The race: Say what you will about Spider-Man—and Lord knows, people have said enough—it is a dazzling spectacle whose physical impressiveness has ensnared thousands of tourists like flies.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher 68%
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors 19%
William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner 9%
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire 4%
The race: Continuing Peter’s dominance of the visual categories, Paloma Young’s outfits take 19th-century silhouettes—naval uniforms, pirate motley, orphan rags—and give them a stylish modern twist. Historical fantasy takes the prize.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Follies 49%
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark 43%
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work if You Can Get It 5%
ESosa, Porgy and Bess 3%
The race: The late Ishioka has a strong chance of winning for her ultra-showy cartoon get-ups in Spider-Man, but Barnes’s extravagant Follies outfits channeled nostalgia for the Ziegfeld era into beautifully evocative forms.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher 46%
Brian MacDevitt, Death of a Salesman 41%
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities 9%
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca 4%
The race: Croiter’s lighting adds essential elucidation to the theatrical hurly-burly of Peter and the Starcatcher’s approach to narrative—shaping the action, reflecting the piece’s shifting tones and creating moments of touching stage magic.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Natasha Katz, Once 38%
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost 30%
Natasha Katz, Follies 21%
Christopher Akerlind, Porgy and Bess 11%
The race: You might think Once’s low-key effects (pub gloom, Dublin dawn, a few mood washes) would lose to Ghost’s extravagant technical flourishes and high-tech illusions. But Katz’s work is admirably keyed in to the emotional states of the main characters. Plus, there’s plenty of disdain for Ghost.

Best Sound Design of a Play
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher 40%
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow 33%
Scott Lehrer, Death of a Salesman 18%
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors 9%
The race: Plays with a lot of music in them have an edge in this category. And while there’s more high-octane belting in End of the Rainbow, and more subtle grace notes in Death of a Salesman, Darron L. West’s inventive, layered soundscape for Peter wins.

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Clive Goodwin, Once 47%
Kai Harada, Follies 44%
Acme Sound Partners, Porgy and Bess 7%
Brian Ronan, Nice Work if You Can Get It 2%
The race: Follies had more noticeable cues, but Goodwin’s impeccable design keeps Once from sounding mushy, integrating every onstage instrument into a warm, clean whole.

Best Choreography
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies 53%
Rob Ashford, Evita 34%
Steven Hoggett, Once 8%
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work if You Can Get It 5%
The race: If this race were based on dance that saves a show, then Ashford’s smart, Latin-flavored moves for the underwhelming Evita would nab the gold. But Gattelli’s jubilant newsboy numbers—athletic, balletic, telling a story of boys becoming men—will make the Monday-morning headlines.

Best Orchestrations
Martin Lowe, Once 43%
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, Porgy and Bess 30%
Danny Troob, Newsies 19%
Bill Elliott, Nice Work if You Can Get It 8%
The race: Brohn and Jahnke’s artful reduction of the operatic Gershwin score takes orchestral talent, but there’s too little love for the musicalized Porgy and Bess— whereas Martin Lowe did an outstanding job of expanding some spare folk-rock tunes for a Broadway ensemble.

The 2012 Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS Sun 10 at 8pm.

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