With just under a week left before the Tonys, the time has come for Vulture’s official, absolutely 100 percent correct, not-at-all-stab-in-the-dark predictions. It has been an eventful season, with some shows, like Girl From the North Country and Six, that feel as if they’ve been playing for years (and arguably have, given that they were in previews in February 2020); others that opened and closed last fall; and a few latecomers that slipped in under the wire in April. It may seem unfair to put productions that arrived under such different circumstances in competition, but that’s what awards do.
These (marked in boldface) are my best guesses of who will win, not my preferences. I’d love to be proven wrong in some cases, and in others, I will be very sad if I’m not right. I am not responsible for any amount of money you lose or win by placing bets. But if I can interest you in some of my other wares for a moment, I’d love to sell you the concept of a marching band.
Clyde’s, Lynn Nottage
Hangmen, Martin McDonagh
The Lehman Trilogy, Stefano Massini and Ben Power
The Minutes, Tracy Letts
Skeleton Crew, Dominique Morisseau
Why: The Lehman Trilogy managed to get all three of its lead actors nominated at once, glutting the category, and it was a major ticket seller on Broadway last fall when not much else was, so it’s the front-runner here. But reviewers weren’t universally enthusiastic about the show, so I wouldn’t be fully surprised by an upset from The Minutes, which has the advantage of a twist ending that (for better or worse) has kept audiences talking, or the deftly constructed and acted Skeleton Crew.
Girl From the North Country
Mr. Saturday Night
Six: The Musical
A Strange Loop
Why: I feel a little bad for Six, which could have won had the 2019–20 season gone according to plan, but up against the much-lauded, already Pulitzer-winning A Strange Loop, the Tudor queens and their producers will have to console themselves with Scrooge McDuck–style swimming pools full of box-office earnings. (I don’t think Girl From the North Country is going to make it. Sorry, Ben Brantley.)
Best Revival of a Play
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
How I Learned to Drive
Take Me Out
Trouble in Mind
Why: Here’s one of those categories where you could make a convincing argument for each entry (apart from American Buffalo, if only because the playwright’s toxicity has poisoned any chance it might have had). I think recency bias will lend an edge, though, and Take Me Out and for colored girls both had great reviews late in the season, followed by the whole feel-good campaign to extend for colored girls’ run.
Best Revival of a Musical
Caroline, or Change
The Music Man
Why: In this abbreviated field, The Music Man has been printing money (thanks to its stars, who may be more likely to reap the awards, and despite some of its reviews), and Caroline, or Change was shattering (but ended its run months ago). But even if Company’s reviews weren’t much better than The Music Man’s, it has the Sondheim nostalgia to nudge it ahead in the minds of voters.
Best Book of a Musical
Girl From the North Country, Conor McPherson
MJ, Lynn Nottage
Mr. Saturday Night, Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel
Paradise Square, Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan
A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Flying Over Sunset, Music: Tom Kitt, Lyrics: Michael Korie
Mr. Saturday Night, Music: Jason Robert Brown, Lyrics: Amanda Green
Paradise Square, Music: Jason Howland, Lyrics: Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare
Six: The Musical, Music and Lyrics: Toby Marlow and Lucy
A Strange Loop, Music & Lyrics: Michael R. Jackson
Why: My crackpot theory for both of these categories — which requires voters to think and act in more strategic ways than they perhaps do — is that Six, with its recently released hit-filled cast recording, may get the award for its music, whereas A Strange Loop will get the recognition for its densely intricate conceit.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy
Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy
Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy
David Morse, How I Learned to Drive
Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues
David Threlfall, Hangmen
Why: The Lehman men are liable to split the vote (though Beale carries a lot of the dramatic weight and probably has the best shot), and the other likely candidate, Sam Rockwell, has a chance at the classic “Thank you, movie star, for doing a serious part” award (though that, again, requires an uphill battle against David Mamet’s idiocy), so we land on Morse, whose sad and terrifying performance in How I Learned to Drive two decades down the road propels so much of the show.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Gabby Beans, The Skin of Our Teeth
LaChanze, Trouble in Mind
Ruth Negga, Macbeth
Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.
Mary-Louise Parker, How I Learned to Drive
Why: Maybe Mary-Louise Parker is simply our new Laurie Metcalf and will take home a Tony twice in a row (particularly because the ceremony held in the middle of last September, when she won for A Sound Inside, seems to have evaporated from our collective memory), but Deirdre O’Connell’s complex lip-sync in Dana H. had all the mystic power of a séance.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night
Myles Frost, MJ
Hugh Jackman, The Music Man
Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire
Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop
Why: Do I think Hugh Jackman is kind of miscast in The Music Man? Yes, I do. But the man can convince a crowd to spend $20,000 on a sweaty whistle, so.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change
Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset
Sutton Foster, The Music Man
Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square
Mare Winningham, Girl From the North Country
Why: Sharon D Clarke was incredible in Caroline, or Change, and Joaquina Kalukango is the one great thing in Paradise Square, but I’m keeping this fun/upsetting by going against my heart and acknowledging that Sutton Foster won the Drama League performance award and people adore her.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Alfie Allen, Hangmen
Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out
Ron Cephas Jones, Clyde’s
Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out
Jesse Williams, Take Me Out
Why: In this full lineup of Take Me Out stars (which seems to lack recognition for the best performance in the play, from Brandon Dirden!), it still seems one of them is destined to win. Will it be Jesse Tyler Ferguson, amicable and loquacious in a role Denis O’Hare won an award for last time? Maybe. But I might wager that it goes to Jesse Williams. He’s in what’s really more of a lead role, and he responded to a truly malicious video leak with a commitment to the need for respect in the theater, earning him props among Broadway folk.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Uzo Aduba, Clyde’s
Rachel Dratch, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
Kenita R. Miller, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew
Julie White, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
Kara Young, Clyde’s
Why: She’s Phylicia Rashad, and she was really good.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Matt Doyle, Company
Sidney DuPont, Paradise Square
Jared Grimes, Funny Girl
John-Andrew Morrison, A Strange Loop
A.J. Shively, Paradise Square
Why: Doyle is the knee-jerk pick for his tour de force delivery of “Getting Married Today,” but there are layers and layers to John-Andrew Morrison’s work in A Strange Loop as one of Usher’s thoughts (and, often, his mother). If voters take the musical seriously, maybe they’ll acknowledge him here, too.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Jeannette Bayardelle, Girl From the North Country
Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night
Jayne Houdyshell, The Music Man
L Morgan Lee, A Strange Loop
Patti LuPone, Company
Jennifer Simard, Company
Why: Chris Harper pays her salary.
Best Direction of a Musical
Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop
Marianne Elliott, Company
Conor McPherson, Girl From the North Country
Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Six: The Musical
Christopher Wheeldon, MJ
Why: With her gender-swap casting and love of neon and big balloons, Elliott became nearly the third author of this Company after Sondheim and Furth. Two Tony wins on, her choices have become a bit predictable. The aesthetic is more Alice in Neon-Dance-Club Land than grimy New York, as more than a few people have grumbled, but having a predictable brand does equal name recognition. If Brackett, an integral part of the development of A Strange Loop, wins here instead, look for that to preface good things for this musical later in the ceremony.
Best Direction of a Play
Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Skin of Our Teeth
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy
Neil Pepe, American Buffalo
Les Waters, Dana H.
Why: I’d love for Blain-Cruz to get recognition for this femme, maximalist treatment of Wilder, or for Brown to win for emphasizing the choreo in choreopoem, but the Tonys love a technically dazzling Brit, so Mendes it is.
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Warren Carlyle, The Music Man
Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Six: The Musical
Bill T. Jones, Paradise Square
Christopher Wheeldon, MJ
Why: This is secretly the category that tells you the most about this past season: We’ve got stodgy classical work (The Music Man), a musical you wish could abandon its book and just be about dancing (Paradise Square), some Dua Lipa–style sashaying (Six), a play that moves in dance (for colored girl), and, finally, an evocation of Michael Jackson (MJ). Regardless of its moral unease, MJ is so dazzlingly dance-forward, it seems like the favorite — and this gives the voters a chance to recognize it somewhere because it’s unlikely to win anything else. (But shouldn’t Christopher Wheeldon share the award with Michael himself?)
David Cullen, Company
Tom Curran, Six: The Musical
Simon Hale, Girl From the North Country
Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ
Charlie Rosen, A Strange Loop
Why: If there’s a contingent of boomer voters who love Dylan (and it feels like there is), this could be the place they make themselves heard.
Best Scenic Design of a Play
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, Beowulf Boritt
Skeleton Crew, Michael Carnahan and Nicholas Hussong
The Lehman Trilogy, Es Devlin
Hangmen, Anna Fleischle
American Buffalo, Scott Pask
The Skin of Our Teeth, Adam Rigg
Why: To quote Gypsy, you’ve gotta have a gimmick, whether you’re filling every corner of the stage with junk (as in American Buffalo), a full seaside boardwalk (as in The Skin of Our Teeth), or the details of a factory break room (as in Skeleton Crew), or making it spin (as with POTUS and The Lehman Trilogy). The voters seem to really love it when things spin, and Lehman’s spare, haunted office set is most likely to have twirled its way into their hearts.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Flying Over Sunset, Beowulf Boritt and 59 Productions
Company, Bunny Christie
A Strange Loop, Arnulfo Maldonado
MJ, Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini
Paradise Square, Allen Moyer
Why: Whether you love or hate the balloons and big neon letters rolling around the stage, you remember them. That’s likely to pull in enough votes to get Company over the top.
Best Costume Design of a Play
The Skin of Our Teeth, Montana Levi Blanco
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Sarafina Bush
Trouble in Mind, Emilio Sosa
Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, Jane Greenwood
Clyde’s, Jennifer Moeller
Why: Cool hats.
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Caroline, or Change, Fly Davis
Paradise Square, Toni-Leslie James
Diana, the Musical, William Ivey Long
The Music Man, Santo Loquasto
Six: The Musical, Gabriella Slade
MJ, Paul Tazewell
Why: Cool headpieces.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Hangmen, Joshua Carr
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Jiyoun Chang
The Lehman Trilogy, Jon Clark
Macbeth, Jane Cox
The Skin of Our Teeth, Yi Zhao
Why: I imagine voters will go with the Best Play favorite, which did manage to evoke many eras of financial history within a single office set and those shifts in lighting.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Company, Neil Austin
Six: The Musical, Tim Deiling
Paradise Square, Donald Holder
MJ, Natasha Katz
Flying Over Sunset, Bradley King
A Strange Loop, Jen Schriever
Why: Six has a lot of tricky emotional shifts that depend on the lighting, which has to cue the audience to follow along as each queen brings it into a different genre of pop concert. I don’t know if Tony voters will necessarily vote for Six based on that, but I do think that Makes big choices, feels like a pop concert! is a line of thinking that would stick with them.
Best Sound Design of a Play
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Justin Ellington
Dana H., Mikhail Fiksel
The Skin of Our Teeth, Palmer Hefferan
The Lehman Trilogy, Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey
Macbeth, Mikaal Sulaiman
Why: The whole experience depends on the crispness of the recorded audio and on your ability to believe those words are somehow in the mouth of the actor onstage.
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Girl From the North Country, Simon Baker
Six: The Musical, Paul Gatehouse
Company, Ian Dickinson for Autograph
A Strange Loop, Drew Levy
MJ, Gareth Owen
Why: Makes big choices, feels like a pop concert!