Much of the suspense surrounding the 2023 Tony Awards is centered on the ceremony itself. With the Writers Guild of America on strike, it's unclear what the annual CBS broadcast will look like this year: How will it fill the time between musical numbers and speeches from the winners? But that's hardly the only uncertainty attached to the Tonys this year. Thanks to the season's large number of high-quality productions—especially of revivals and new plays—many of the races will be tight. But we've pored over the 2023 Tony nominations, tracked the buzz and talked to industry sources, and we're ready to make our predictions. Here’s who we think will win when Ariana DeBose returns to host Broadway’s biggest night on June 11, 2023.
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The race: At this point, the battle for the Tonys' biggest prize is a duel. For the past decade, Tony voters have tended to reward critical favorites with Off Broadway roots, like Kimberly Akimbo; but in the post-shutdown era, some may be drawn to splashier fare like Some Like It Hot. The latter has late-season momentum from its larger tally of nominations, especially in the design fields, and from non-Tony awards for which Kimberly was ineligible (having won several of them last year); as a Shubert Organization production, it also has a heap of institutional power behind it. We expect the artistically superior Kimberly to eke out a win, but this will be a close one.
The race: The Best Play race is stuffed with ringers: Three of the nominees won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But none of them will beat the race's lone English import, Tom Stoppard's stately Leopoldstadt, which has nearly everything in its favor: a revered playwright, a slew of awards, a long commercial run, a resonant subject (anti-Semitism). And the longstanding Anglophilia of Tony voters doesn't hurt.
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
The race: This unusually strong season for musical revivals includes successful remountings of two classic musicals by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd. But the award is for Best Revival of a Musical, not Best Musical Being Revived—which argues in favor of the excellent production of Parade, the only nominee that arguably improves upon the original.
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
The race: This is another tight race. We think it comes down to the two smallest productions: the minimalist revival of A Doll's House and the tense two-hander Topdog/Underdog. Although Topdog was our favorite Broadway show last year, it's an underdog in this category, iin part because—with several fine options—shows that are still running tend to be top of mind.
Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, Shucked
Tom Kitt and Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous
David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori, Kimberly Akimbo
Helen Park and Max Vernon, KPOP
Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Some Like It Hot
The race: As enjoyable as retro pastiches of Some Like It Hot and the country-fried tunes of Shucked may be, the Best Score Tony is likely to go to the show that actually has the year's best score.
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Robert Horn, Shucked
David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo
Matthew López and Amber Ruffin, Some Like It Hot
David West Read, & Juliet
David Thompson and Sharon Washington, New York, New York
The race: Robert Horn's cornucopia of jokes is a major factor in Shucked's appeal, but he won recently for similar strengths in Tootsie. Lindsay-Abaire's adaptation of his own bittersweet 2000 play is in a different class.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Annaleigh Ashford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sara Bareilles, Into the Woods
Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo
Lorna Courtney, & Juliet
Micaela Diamond, Parade
The race: This is the kind of category that makes you hope for a multiway tie. But the photo finish is between Clark's touching depiction of a elderly-bodied teenager and Ashford's fresh, hilarious take on Sweeney Todd's nasty baker. We think stage vet Clark has a slight advantage, but Ashford keeps rising like well-proved bread.
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Christian Borle, Some Like It Hot
J. Harrison Ghee, Some Like It Hot
Josh Groban, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Brian d’Arcy James, Into the Woods
Ben Platt, Parade
Colton Ryan, New York, New York
The race: Golly, Ghee! Nonbinary actor J. Harrison Ghee chose to be submitted in the male category this year, and that gambit has paid off: Their performance as a hoofer on a journey of gender self-discovery is the emotional center of Some Like It Hot, and is likely to win out over the big names (and beautiful singing) of Groban and Platt.
BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
The race: Comer works her face off in an impassioned solo piece—she plays multiple characters, does accents, changes costumes, moves scenery—and the sheer size of her performance makes her the favorite. But don't rule out Jessica Chastain, whose intensely focused turn in A Doll's House, delivered with only the barest of movement, is equally impressive in its way.
BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Topdog/Underdog
Corey Hawkins, Topdog/Underdog
Sean Hayes, Good Night, Oscar
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy
Wendell Pierce, Death of a Salesman
The race: In terms of nominations, this was the year's most competitive category: There wasn't room to include many first-rate turns that would surely have gotten nods in other seasons (e.g. Jefferson Mays in A Christmas Carol, Oscar Isaac in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Hiran Abeysekera in Life of Pi). With the superbly balanced stars of Topdog/Underdog all but guaranteed to cancel each other out, it's a three-way race, with Pierce a bit behind the tightly matched front runners. Hayes has a very good chance of winning for his portrayal of wicked wit Oscar Levant in a play tailored to his estimable talents. But we give a tiny edge to the magnificent Henderson, a stage mainstay who is overdue for recognition.
BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Julia Lester, Into the Woods
Ruthie Ann Miles, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo
NaTasha Yvette Williams, Some Like It Hot
Betsy Wolfe, & Juliet
The race: This is as close to a lock as the acting categories offer this year. Milligan's criminal aunt is a triumph of comedic and vocal assurance; she steals Kimberly Akimbo and doesn't look back.
BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Kevin Cahoon, Shucked
Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo
Kevin Del Aguila, Some Like It Hot
Jordan Donica, Camelot
Alex Newell, Shucked
The race: Another nonbinary performer who has chosen to compete in a male category, Newell—who should have been nominated for Once on This Island a few years back—is nearly guaranteed a win this time time around for a sensational performance that earns mid-show standing ovations. If there's a dark horse in the race, it's Justin Cooley's lower-key but extremely charming supporting turn in Kimberly.
BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Nikki Crawford, Fat Ham
Crystal Lucas-Perry, Ain’t No Mo’
Miriam Silverman, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
Katy Sullivan, Cost of Living
Kara Young, Cost of Living
The race: In a different year, Lucas-Perry's stunning work in Ain't No Mo' would give her a solid chance of winning. But this year, in recognition of Covid-related disruptions, the Tonys have temporarily change their rules: Voters are usually required to have seen every nominee, but they are now allowed not to have seen one nominee per category. Because Ain't No Mo had such a brief run, that change hurts Crystal-Perry. And when the Tonys close a door, they open a window for Silverman—who is terrific in a part that won a Tony for Alice Ghostley nearly 60 years ago. But she's not a shoo-in: Cost of Living's biting Katy Sullivan, a double amputee and Paralympics track star, is also in the running.
BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Jordan E. Cooper, Ain’t No Mo’
Samuel L. Jackson, The Piano Lesson
Arian Moayed, A Doll’s House
Brandon Uranowitz, Leopoldstadt
David Zayas, Cost of Living
The race: Jackson is a force, and a win for Cooper would have the bonus of rewarding him as the show's author. But we think that fourth time will be a charm for repeat Tony nominee Uranowitz, whose memorable portrayal of a Jewish mathematician is a central string of Leopoldstadt's cat's-cradle storytelling. (And a win for him would have the synecdochical benefit of rewarding the play's fine ensemble cast.)
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Michael Arden, Parade
Lear deBessonet, Into the Woods
Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot
Jack O'Brien, Shucked
Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo
The race: Stone's direction of the tonally tricky Kimberly Akimbo is top-notch, but it's a small show compared with most of the others. We favor Arden, who also directed this season's delightful iteration of A Christmas Carol.
BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Saheem Ali, Fat Ham
Jo Bonney, Cost of Living
Jamie Lloyd, A Doll’s House
Patrick Marber, Leopoldstadt
Stevie Walker-Webb, Ain’t No Mo'
Max Webster, Life of Pi
The race: A Best Play win usually entails one for Best Director as well, and we don't expect an exception this year.
Steven Hoggett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot
Susan Stroman, New York, New York
Jennifer Weber, & Juliet
Jennifer Weber, KPOP
The race: Weber brings pop fizz to the category and Stroman's dances are the highlights of her show, but we expect Nicholaw to dance off with this one.
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Beowulf Boritt, New York, New York
Mimi Lien, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Michael Yeargan and 59 Productions, Camelot
Scott Pask, Shucked
Scott Pask, Some Like It Hot
The race: The very busy Pask is nominated twice in this category, and he also designed two other shows this season. He has a very good chance of winning for the lavish deco sets of Some Like It Hot. But Boritt does fabulous work creating the cityscape of New York, New York, and this category would give voters a chance to show that show some love.
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
Miriam Buether, Prima Facie
Tim Hatley and Andrzej Goulding, Life of Pi
Rachel Hauck, Good Night, Oscar
Richard Hudson, Leopoldstadt
Dane Laffrey and Lucy Mackinnon, A Christmas Carol
The race: There's a case to be made for A Christmas Carol on merit, but there's no denying that Life of Pi is a feast for the eyes, thanks largely to its ingenious and colorful set by Hatley and projections by Goulding.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Gregg Barnes, Some Like It Hot
Susan Hilferty, Parade
Jennifer Moeller, Camelot
Clint Ramos and Sophia Choi, KPOP
Paloma Young, & Juliet
Donna Zakowska, New York, New York
The race: We love Young's transhistorical constructions in & Juliet, but this race is Barnes's to lose, and he won't.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Tim Hatley, Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, Life of Pi
Dominique Fawn Hill, Fat Ham
Brigitte Reiffenstuel, Leopoldstadt
Emilio Sosa, Ain't No Mo'
Emilio Sosa, Good Night, Oscar
The race: If this award were strictly for clothes, Reiffenstuel's period finery might be the front runner. But since Life of Pi's nomination encompasses not just Hatley's costumes but Barnes and Caldwell's spectacular puppets, it has an advantage—assuming, of course, that voters realize the puppets are included.
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Ken Billington, New York, New York
Lap Chi Chu, Camelot
Heather Gilbert, Parade
Howard Hudson, & Juliet
Natasha Katz, Some Like It Hot
Natasha Katz, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The race: Katz, now and forever. But which show will bring her an eighth Tony? We expect her shadier work in Sweeney to outshine the brighter lights of Some Like It Hot.
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Neil Austin, Leopoldstadt
Natasha Chivers, Prima Facie
Jon Clark, A Doll's House
Bradley King, Fat Ham
Tim Lutkin, Life of Pi
Jen Schriever, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Ben Stanton, A Christmas Carol
The race: Chalk up another win for Life of Pi's spectacular effects.
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Kai Harada, New York, New York
John Shivers, Shucked
Scott Lehrer and Alex Neumann, Into the Woods
Gareth Owen, & Juliet
Nevin Steinberg, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The race: Since almost no one knows how to vote for this award, the winner is anyone's guess. But we suspect it will go to the show in which sound effects play the largest role, and that's Into the Woods—whose adept design also helped listeners keep track of multiple singers at once in Sondheim's often overlapping score.
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY
Jonathan Deans and Taylor Williams, Ain't No Mo'
Carolyn Downing, Life of Pi
Joshua D. Reid, A Christmas Carol
Ben & Max Ringham, A Doll's House
Ben & Max Ringham, Prima Facie
The race: With this win, we expect Life of Pi to clinch all four of the design awards for plays—a sweep that is not uncommon in Tony history. (Since the introduction of the sound awards in 2008, it has happened three times.)
John Clancy, Kimberly Akimbo
Jason Howland, Shucked
Charlie Rosen and Bryan Carter, Some Like It Hot
Bill Sherman, & Juliet
Daryl Waters and Sam Davis, New York, New York
The race: Some Like It Hot's big, brassy 1930s style owes a significant debt to its talented orchestrators.
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Lisa Dawn Cave