Full list of 2018 Tony Awards predictions

Broadway’s big night is approaching. Here's who we think will take home a Tony Award—and who will leave empty-handed.
Angels in America: Perestroika
Photograph: Courtesy Brinkhoff-Moegenburg Angels in America: Perestroika
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In the 2017–18 season, Broadway took a long look backward—and maybe a few steps back, as well. It was a strong year for revivals, sure, but new musicals were in short supply, and new plays were even scarcer: The leviathan Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the only one to open since January. The narrowness of the field—and the expansion of most categories to five nominees from four—meant massive Tony Award nomination tallies for many productions: 12 apiece for SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls, 11 for The Band’s Visit, Carousel and Angels in America, and 10 for My Fair Lady and Harry Potter. But only a few of those will probably end up with the lion’s share of prizes. Here’s who we predict will win (or should win) the marquee races when Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban host the awards show at Radio City Music Hall.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Tony Awards

BEST MUSICAL
The Band’s Visit
Frozen
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants

The race: Last season, there were 13 new musicals on Broadway; this time, there were merely seven, of which only The Band’s Visit was aimed squarely at adults. That gives this elegant, soulful show a decisive advantage among Tony voters eager to maintain the image of Broadway as a destination for sophisticated entertainment.


BEST PLAY
The Children (Lucy Kirkwood)
Farinelli and the King (Claire Van Kampen)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Jack Thorne)
Junk (Ayad Akthar)
Latin History for Morons (John Leguizamo)

The race: The Tonys make a distinction between production and writing when it comes to musicals—but not for plays. The Children and Junk may be superior to Harry Potter on the page, but the magical epic will ride its spectacular staging to victory just as War Horse did in 2011. (Expect Potter to make a clean sweep of the design categories, too.)


BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
Carousel
My Fair Lady
Once On This Island

The race: All three offer beautiful accounts of shows whose gender politics are potentially troubling. But Lincoln Center Theater’s version of My Fair Lady comes nearest to being in tune with contemporary attitudes.


BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
Angels in America
The Iceman Cometh 
Lobby Hero
Three Tall Women
Travesties

The race: In an otherwise meager season, play revivals have had a terrific showing, as evidenced by these five standouts. Three Tall Women may be a better production than Angels in America, but the latter has a weightier sense of event; scope, ambition and sheer length are the wind beneath its wings.


The Band's Visit

The Band’s Visit
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

BEST SCORE
Angels in America (Adrian Sutton)
The Band’s Visit (David Yazbek)
Frozen (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
Mean Girls (Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin)
SpongeBob SquarePants (various artists)

The race: No uncertainty here: After three previous nominations, top-tier Broadway tunesmith Yazbek will win his overdue first Tony for his sinuous, evocative songs in The Band’s Visit.


BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
The Band’s Visit (Itamar Moses)
Frozen (Jennifer Lee)
Mean Girls (Tina Fey)
SpongeBob SquarePants (Kyle Jarrow)

The race: Moses’s book for The Band’s Visit is a model of grace and may deserve to beat Fey’s amusing adaptation of her own movie. But the Tony voting equation often involves spreading the wealth, and this category presents an opportunity to show Mean Girls some love. (Fey’s fame doesn’t hurt, either.) 


BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady
Hailey Kilgore, Once On This Island
LaChanze, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls
Jessie Mueller, Carousel

The race: This is technically the night’s widest category, with six candidates in the running due to a tie in the nominating process, but it all comes down to a close call between the luminous Ambrose and the darkling Lenk. Ambrose does a lovely job in the role that made Julie Andrews a star, but Lenk has no such performance to eclipse. Her languorous charisma redefines the slow burn.


BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Carousel
Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit
Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants

The race: The thinness of the 2017–18 season is clearest in this bout, which has been narrowed to four contenders because only five actors were even eligible for it. Henry has the meatiest role, so we predict his third Tony nomination will be the charm—but don’t rule out the tender Shalhoub or the energetic Slater.


BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Glenda Jackson, Three Tall Women
Condola Rashad, Saint Joan
Lauren Ridloff, Children of a Lesser God
Amy Schumer, Meteor Shower

The race: Jackson has said she doesn’t care for awards, which is a shame because she’s about to be burdened with another one. The British actor’s masterful portrayal of an imperious woman in decline is the easiest win of the night to predict.


BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Tom Hollander, Travesties
Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King
Denzel Washington, The Iceman Cometh

The race: Rylance has appeared on Broadway in three previous seasons and won a Tony each time. That streak stops here, with Garfield favored for his portrayal of a resistant prophet in Tony Kushner’s masterpiece. If the preponderance of Brits triggers a patriotic reflex in voters, though, Washington—the category’s only out-and-out American—could eke out a win.


Mean Girls

Mean Girls
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Renée Fleming, Carousel
Lindsay Mendez, Carousel
Ashley Park, Mean Girls
Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

The race: Up-and-comer Park has already picked up a slew of prizes for Mean Girls and Off Broadway’s KPOP. But we think it will be “none for Gretchen Wieners” on Tony night, thanks to Mendez’s supremely lovable turn in Carousel. (As Game of Thrones fans know, however, one should never underestimate Dame Diana Rigg.)


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady
Alexander Gemignani, Carousel
Grey Henson, Mean Girls
Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants
Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit

The race: Once on This Island’s gender-twisting Alex Newell shoulda been a contender, but in his absence it comes down to Broadway favorite Butz—who already has two Tonys to his (unforgettable) name—and handsome new arrival Stachel. Goodwill for The Band’s Visit gives the latter a modest edge.


BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Susan Brown, Angels in America
Noma Dumezweni, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Deborah Findlay, The Children
Denise Gough, Angels in America
Laurie Metcalf, Three Tall Women

The race: Gough will be tough to beat, especially after her bravura turn in Off Broadway’s People, Places & Things earlier in the season. In terms of competition, Harry Potter’s forceful Dumezweni spells the most trouble for her.


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Michael Cera, Lobby Hero
Brian Tyree Henry, Lobby Hero
Nathan Lane, Angels in America
David Morse, The Iceman Cometh

The race: This category is usually among the hardest to call, and this year is no exception. Lane is the front-runner for several reasons—he’s a living Broadway legend giving a harrowing performance in a large and rich part in a prestige production—but we would not be shocked by a victory for Boyle or Henry, who are both unimprovable in their roles.


BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Michael Arden, Once on This Island
David Cromer, The Band’s Visit
Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants
Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls
Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

The race: We suspect that Cromer will win for his refreshingly unsentimental, straight-play approach to The Band’s Visit, but he faces stiff challenges from Sher and Landau among voters inclined toward more lavish pageantry. (Historically, this award almost always goes to the winner of Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical—but it didn’t last year.)


BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Marianne Elliott, Angels in America
Joe Mantello, Three Tall Women
Patrick Marber, Travesties
John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
George C. Wolfe, The Iceman Cometh

The race: Tiffany’s wizardly coordination of the complex and dynamic Harry Potter will probably earn him the prize, but Elliott and Mantello have long shots at it if voters rebel against Pottermania.


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Christopher Gattelli, My Fair Lady
Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants
Steven Hoggett, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls
Justin Peck, Carousel

The race: Peck’s ravishing dances are arguably the main attraction in Carousel, and the New York City Ballet wunderkind will leap off with the Tony for his Broadway debut.


BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Dane Laffrey, Once on This Island
Scott Pask, The Band’s Visit
Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young, Mean Girls
Michael Yeargan, My Fair Lady
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants

The race: Zinn's ravishingly imaginative vision transports audiences to a magical undersea world. It deserves the prize—but if snooty voters think Bikini Bottom is beneath them, Yeargan's handsome set may steal the win.


BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
Miriam Buether, Three Tall Women
Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and the King
Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Santo Loquasto, The Iceman Cometh
Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce, Angels in America

The race: Conventional wisdom favors Jones for her role in bringing Harry Potter's epic story to the stage. But if Harry Potter doesn't sweep the design awards, this may be where it falls short: We would not be surrpised by an upset win for Buether's gorgeous, mind-twisting set for Three Tall Women.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Gregg Barnes, Mean Girls
Clint Ramos, Once on This Island
Ann Roth, Carousel
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants
Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady

The race: Zinn's costumes complement his set design perfectly, but Tony voters can't resist Zuber's costumes for Lincoln Center musicals. Her Tony Awards for The Light in the PiazzaSouth Pacific and The King and I will probably soon have a sibling.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and the King
Nicky Gillibrand, Angels in America
Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Ann Roth, The Iceman Cometh
Ann Roth, Three Tall Women

The race: The lavish 18th-century garb in Farinelli and the King might win in a different year, but Harry Potter will likely add this one to the pot.


BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Once on This Island
Donald Holder, My Fair Lady
Brian MacDevitt, Carousel
Tyler Micoleau, The Band’s Visit

The race: Other shows are brighter, but Micoleau's lighting plays a major role in bringing out The Band's Visit's delicate shades.


BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Paule Constable, Angels in America
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, The Iceman Cometh
Paul Russell, Farinelli and the King
Ben Stanton, Junk

The race: Lumos! Austin has this one locked up.


BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Kai Harada, The Band’s Visit
Scott Lehrer, Carousel
Peter Hylenski, Once on This Island
Brian Ronan, Mean Girls
Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants

The race: The Tonys for sound design return this year for the first time since 2014. We think the wacky SpongeBob will take it with a bang.


BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY
Adam Cork, Travesties
Ian Dickinson and Autograph, Angels in America
Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Tom Gibbons, 1984
Dan Moses Schreier, The Iceman Cometh

The race: Another almost-certain win for Harry Potter's technical magic.


Spongebob Squarepants

Spongebob Squarepants
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS
John Clancy, Mean Girls
Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants
AnnMarie Milazzo and Michael Starobin, Once on This Island
Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit
Jonathan Tunick, Carousel

The race: When the band is the title character, the orchestrator gets a larger share of the spotlight than usual. Sharifi’s exceptional work is central to the show's appeal, expanding Broadway's musical palette with Middle Eastern instruments like the oud and the darbuka.

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