On the eve of the 71st Tony Awards on June 11, Gold Derby’s in-house trio of theater prognosticators — executive editor Paul Sheehan and contributing writers David Buchanan and Sam Eckmann— got together via webcam to share their thoughts on the front-runners and dark horses in all 24 categories (watch our slugfest above).
Diving right into the hotly contested race for Best Musical, David and Sam narrow the field down to favorite “Dear Evan Hansen” and potential spoiler “Come From Away.” While they both have “Hansen” out front, Sam makes a strong case for “Come From Away,” which he thinks has the perfect narrative to pull off an upset, saying “the spirit of it and the message behind it has really resonated with people.” No matter which of those two prevail, they all predict Rachel Chavkin to win in Best Direction for her work on “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812,” the most Tony-nominated show of the season, though Michael Greif has a strong chance as director of “Dear Evan Hansen,” too.
In the acting races, all three feel confident that front-runners Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”) and Bette Midler (“Hello, Dolly!”) remain largely uncontested in the lead categories, with Gavin Creel (“Hello, Dolly!”) also a likely victor in Featured Actor. They’re struggling as to whether Rachel Bay Jones (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Stephanie J. Block (“Falsettos”) or Jenn Colella (“Come From Away”) will prevail in the Featured Actress race.
Moving onto the Play categories, the trio start by discussing the competitive race for the top honor. While Sam and David currently predict “Oslo” will win, both consider the likelihood of “A Doll’s House, Part 2” prevailing, and I note that the latter’s “campaigning and their strategy have been incredibly smart.” Paul astutely points out that the voting bloc of road producers might gravitate toward “Doll’s House,” because its “one set, four actors… that’s a show that’s going to get produced everywhere.” Even if “Oslo” doesn’t take Play, its director Bartlett Sher could take home the trophy, but Sam and David both think Ruben Santiago-Hudson will win for his directorial effort for “Jitney.”
While Kevin Kline (“Present Laughter”) seems to be a lock for Best Actor in a Play, as does Cynthia Nixon (“The Little Foxes”) in Featured Actress, they see tighter contests in the other two races. Actress in a Play will come down to Laurie Metcalf (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”) versus Laura Linney (“The Little Foxes”), considering Linney has built a lot of momentum after winning the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards for her performance. In Featured Actor, Danny DeVito (“The Price”) seems to be the favorite, but David is considering Michael Aronov for “Oslo” and Sam throws John Douglas Thompson (“Jitney”) into the mix, who has “tremendous support in the industry.”
To round off their conversation, a rapid-fire analysis of all six Design categories, including frontrunners “Hello, Dolly!” and “Great Comet” for the Musicals and “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Indecent” for the Plays, as well as predictions on how Kevin Spacey will do as the host of the ceremony.
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.