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2015 Tony Awards predictions collage

2015 Tony Awards predictions

Our Tony Awards predictions will give you a leg up on Broadway’s biggest night and this year’s super tight races

By Adam Feldman and David Cote
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Most years we share our Tony Awards predictions with the caveat that we’re not all-knowing beings of infallible insight (sorry to disabuse you), and some races are too close to call—or we’ve heard contradictory buzz on the Rialto. Some Broadway seasons are so weak that it’s hard to guess which of the sorta deserving will sorta win. But this year, it really is true. There are a number of strong contenders for Best Play and Best Musical, and the acting categories are stuffed with formidable opponents. Will Fun Home beat An American in Paris? It’s possible. Will Steven Boyer win over Alex Sharp? Yes! No! Help! Lightning round: Kristin or Kelli? We simply don’t know. But we can pretend to know. Read on!

RECOMMENDED: See complete Tony Awards coverage

An American in Paris
Photograph: Angela Sterling

Best Musical

An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit

SET FOR GLORY: In a cheeringly diverse race, An American in Paris has the broadest appeal, with spectacular dance sequences set to Gershwin tunes. It’ll do gangbusters on the road.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Fun Home is the most intimate, complex and quirky of the bunch. But fear not: It will get a lot of consolation prizes in the acting and writing categories.
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Skylight
Photograph: John Haynes

Best Revival of a Play

The Elephant Man
Skylight
This Is Our Youth
You Can’t Take It with You

SET FOR GLORY: Skylight, beautifully staged by Stephen Daldry, has the distinct advantage of still being open, and Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy give two of the year's best performances.

SET TO BE ROBBED: We’d prefer You Can’t Take It with You, which had a fine ensemble diving into the Kaufman and Hart classic. 

The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Best Revival of a Musical

The King and I
On the Town
On the Twentieth Century

SET FOR GLORY: The King and I is not just a box-office success but also a class act on a massive scale, by the same creative team that swept the 2008 Tony Awards with South Pacific.

SET TO BE ROBBED: No robberies this time around. King deserves the prize for its sweep, depth and beauty.

hand to god

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

SET FOR GLORY: The race will come down to two brilliant performances by actors playing mentally disturbed teenagers, Steven Boyer (Hand to God) and Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). Sharp’s moving, detailed depiction of a kid on the autism spectrum offers more uplift.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Wonderful as Sharp is, Boyer’s virtuoso double performance, as a Texas boy and his demonic hand puppet, is one for the ages. Can we pray for a tie?

The Audience

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

SET FOR GLORY: Tony loves a dame, and Helen Mirren rules the boards as a rock-steady Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience. This is her third outing on Broadway (she was nominated twice before but didn’t win), so it’s sure to be the charm.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Mirren’s countrywomen, Carey Mulligan (Skylight) and Ruth Wilson (Constellations), matched her as equally conflicted women. All three deserve it.

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Fun Home
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town 

SET FOR GLORY: His tortured character, a closeted martinet of a father who cruises for hookups, is not pretty, but Fun Home’s Michael Cerveris plays Bruce Bechdel with humor, wit and tremendous humanity.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Nobody. Cerveris’s portrayal got even more layered after the show’s jump from the Public to Broadway.

The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit

SET FOR GLORY: Kelli O’Hara has been nominated for six Tonys but has yet to win. There’s a feeling that she’s due, and her lovely work in The King and I provides a respectable hook to hang that hat on.

SET TO BE ROBBED: It’s Kristin Chenoweth’s time to shine, too—she’s never won a Tony for Best Actress, and her star turn in On the Twentieth Century is a jaw-dropping blast of musical-comedy dynamite. In an ideal world, she and O’Hara would split it.

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You Can’t Take It With You
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway

SET FOR GLORY: Tony tends to favor shows that are still running, but You Can’t Take It with You’s Annaleigh Ashford will be an exception.

SET TO BE ROBBED: All is right in Tony town for this one. Even in the bright cast, Ashford stole the show with effortless comic aplomb.

Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play

SET FOR GLORY: Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two’s Nathaniel Parker already nabbed an Olivier for his vivid portrayal of serial husband Henry VIII as a jolly menace, but it’s time to make more room on the mantel (so to speak).

SET TO BE ROBBED: None of these dudes. Parker ought to leave with the top prize. 

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Fun Home
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

SET FOR GLORY: This category belongs to Fun Home, and among those three out of five candidates, the sentimental vote goes to stalwart Judy Kuhn (nearly 30 years after a nom for Les Misérables).

SET TO BE ROBBED: We don’t generally love giving awards to child actors (we’re jerks, we know), but fellow Fun-ster, 11-year-old Sydney Lucas, deserves it for her fresh and delightful turn. 

Fun Home
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Book of a Musical

An American in Paris, Craig Lucas
Fun Home, Lisa Kron
Something Rotten!, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
The Visit, Terrence McNally

SET TO BE ROBBED: Fun Home is by far the deepest and richest candidate in the bunch, and Kron’s previous work (including Well and In the Wake) gives her extra credibility.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Not applicable here. To read Alison Bechdel’s illustrated memoir, on which Fun Home is based, is to marvel at how smartly and sensitively Kron has shaped it into a musical.

Fun Home
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Original Score

Fun Home, Music: Jeanine Tesori; 
Lyrics: Lisa Kron
The Last Ship, Music & Lyrics: Sting
Something Rotten!, Music & Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
The Visit, Music: John Kander; 
Lyrics: Fred Ebb

SET FOR GLORY: Kron and Tesori’s chamber score for Fun Home is plangent, witty and powerful.

SET TO BE ROBBED: No one. Although Sting’s skillful debut, The Last Ship, shouldn’t be pooh-poohed, Fun Home hits deepest.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Direction of a Play

Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

SET FOR GLORY: When voters weigh all elements, they’ll find that Marianne Elliott’s balance of complex design and equally layered emotional terrain in Curious Incident deserves top honor.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Scott Ellis of You Can’t Take It with You did a bang-up job with casting and tone. Sometimes great direction is simply staying out of the way.

An American in Paris
Photograph: Angela Sterling

Best Direction of a Musical

Sam Gold, Fun Home
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town
Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

SET FOR GLORY: Ballet master Christopher Wheeldon will surely win for the An American in Paris choreography, but he’s also likely to pick up Best Direction honors for his fluid, often ravishing staging of an old-fashioned show.

SET TO BE ROBBED: It may not be as showy as the work of the other nominees, but Sam Gold’s helming of Fun Home is a masterful combination of clarity, complexity, fluidity and surprise.

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An American in Paris
Photograph: Angela Sterling

Best Choreography

Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

SET FOR GLORY: Set for glory: The biggest lock of the night is Christopher Wheeldon’s gorgeous ballet for An American in Paris, a throwback to the heyday of dance auteurs like Jerome Robbins and by all accounts the highlight of the show.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Joshua Bergasse had a superb year, not just with On the Town but with the unnominated Gigi, and it’s a shame he’s up against the Wheeldon steamroller.
An American in Paris
Photograph: Angela Sterling

Best Orchestrations

Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

SET FOR GLORY: It took three guys to re-orchestrate George Gershwin’s 1928 symphonic poem An American in Paris (and a dozen-plus other tunes) for a glorious-sounding Broadway pit, and they all deserve the gold. C’est magnifique—or, as the Americans say: ’S Wonderful!

SET TO BE ROBBED: Rob Mathes was tasked with imbuing Sting’s unique pop-folk sound with orchestral color and variety. They built a sleek, sturdy vessel together. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It with You

SET FOR GLORY: The LED and video-saturated grid of Curious Incident is a fascinating character itself, a playground (or prison) for the drama’s ultra-sensitive protagonist, a brilliant teen on the autism spectrum.

SET TO BE ROBBED: They won’t exactly be “robbed,” but the monumental power of Wolf Hall’s concrete slabs and the eccentric homespun charm of You Can’t Take It With You are admirable, too.
An American in Paris
Photograph: Angela Sterling

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home

SET FOR GLORY: Bob Crowley is a master, and his striking painterly backdrops for An American in Paris are a major element of the show’s success. He earned a rare Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle this year, and he’ll take the Tony, too.

SET TO BE ROBBED: David Zinn’s evocative, continually surprising designs for Fun Home make the most of Circle in the Square’s tricky theater-in-the-round setup, and help the musical play even better than it did Off Broadway.

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The Audience
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Costume Design of a Play

Bob Crowley, The Audience
Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Zinn, Airline Highway

SET FOR GLORY: Sometimes a designer wins this category on the basis of quick changes (such as A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder last year). But Bob Crowley’s impeccably sourced and executed frocks for Queen Elizabeth II not only shuttled the monarch back and forth in time, they ferried the audience, too.

SET TO BE ROBBED: For sheer gaudy exuberance, David Zinn’s eye-popping designs for Airline Highway’s Big Easy eccentrics demands a second look.
The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
Catherine Zuber, The King and I

SET FOR GLORY: The King and I has a massive cast, and Zuber’s elegant work more than meets the challenge of outfitting them in royal period Asian splendor.

SET TO BE ROBBED: In another year Gregg Barnes might win for his exuberant Something Rotten! togs, which go a long way toward establishing and selling the show’s madcap modern spin on Elizabethan life.
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight
Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway

SET FOR GLORY: Constable’s lighting helps give Curious Incident its visual wow, and sharpens our awareness of the main character’s confusion.

SET TO BE ROBBED: Constable also lit the first part of Wolf Hall, with David Plater lighting the second; their work is key in creating discrete senses of space on the spare set.

The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit

SET FOR GLORY: This race is actually a hard one to call—there’s so much gorgeous illumination to be found in big, bright spectacles such as An American in Paris, or a shadowy chamber work like Fun Home. Ultimately, we think the painterly, swoon-making visuals of The King and I will triumph.

SET TO BE ROBBED: The Visit is a problematic Kander & Ebb musical, but its crepuscular, even morbid lighting is absolutely ravishing. Unfortunately, Tony voters will be drawn to other flames.
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