Tony Awards 2016: Best Director (Play) could split from top races for only third time ever

At the Tonys, the Best Director (Play) award usually goes to the helmer of either the Best Play or Best Play Revival winner. Indeed, since the Play Revival category was created in 1994, there have been only two years when this hasn’t happened: in 1998, “Art” won Best Play and “A View from the Bridge” claimed Best Play Revival but it was Garry Hynes who became the first-ever woman to win Best Director for her work on Martin McDonagh’s new play “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.” And In 2002, “The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?” took Best Play, “Private Lives” won the revival category and Mary Zimmerman won for overseeing Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” This year could well be the third such instance.

In the Best Play category, our experts are aligned behind Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” with Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed” as a possible spoiler. Over in the Best Play Revival race, a remounting of Eugene O’Neill‘s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” has the edge as it is still running and boasts a starry cast including likely Tony winner Jessica Lange.

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Under normal Tony patterns, the Director (Play) prize would be awarded to the helmer of one of those shows: Joe Mantello or Jonathan Kent respectively. But no director has elicited more buzz in New York this season than Ivo van Hove.

He directed the acclaimed British production of Arthur Miller‘s “A View from the Bridge.” Were it still running, it would certainly be out front in more categories. But this auteur will remain in voter’s minds thanks to his revival of another Miller classic: “The Crucible.” It’s also nominated for Best Play Revival. And he was represented Off-Broadway this season with both the David Bowie musical “Lazarus” and a new staging of “Antigone” at BAM.

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With such a celebrated season, it’s easy to see how the hottest helmer in town could take home the Tony, even if his show falters in the top race. Our experts forecast a tight contest with four pundits backing Ivo van Hove and six standing with Mantello. The latter has prevailed with two of his seven Tony bids to date. While there is certainly a “home turf” edge with these kudos, crowning a new star director could be a more appealing choice.

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