In the five weeks between Tony Awards nominations being announced on May 2 and Sunday’s ceremony, the Best Actress in a Play contest has gone from predictable to nail-biter. With a overwhelming amount of support for Lucas Hnath‘s new play “A Doll’s House, Part 2” from the nominating committee, Laurie Metcalf appeared to be a shoo-in for the trophy. Then rival nominee Laura Linney started picking up precursor prizes for her performance as Regina in the Manhattan Theatre Club revival of Lillian Hellman‘s “The Little Foxes.”
Although the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk share few voters with the Tonys, they have the potential to build momentum for a production or contender leading up to these top theater awards. After prevailing against Metcalf at both of these kudos, might Linney pull off a major upset at the Tonys?
After all, there is a strong correlation between taking home both of these awards and then claiming the Tony too. The most recent four winners of this race (Jessica Lange, “Long Day’s Journey into Night;” Helen Mirren, “The Audience;” Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill;” and Cicely Tyson, “The Trip to Bountiful”) all won this unofficial trifecta of theater kudos, although McDonald claimed her prize in the Actress in a Musical category.
Since 2000, this has occurred four other times: Mary-Louise Parker (“Proof”) in 2001, Cherry Jones (“Doubt”) in 2005, Deanna Dunagan (“August: Osage County”) in 2008, and Frances McDormand (“Good People”) in 2011. It may well have been more but both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk consider Off-Broadway performances as well.
Despite this trend, Metcalf has one important factor in her favor: in each of those eight cases, the winner had little serious competition at the Tonys. While Linney has bested Metcalf twice already in recent weeks, the latter headlines a play which has mounted a very strong campaign in the two weeks of Tony voting. And with both having lost three previous bids, the playing field seems to be level in terms of the “overdue factor.”
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on June 11. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.