Two new musicals — “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” — will reap a good number of Tony Awards nominations on Tuesday but the revival of the 1964 Best Musical champ “Hello, Dolly!” is likely to lead the pack. (See the full list of predicted Tony Awards nominees.)
“Dear Evan Hansen” is a timely tuner about cyber-bullying. It transferred to the rialto from an acclaimed run at Second Stage last fall and has done boffo business, boosted by the profile of the Oscar-winning songwriters Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (“La La Land”). It is predicted to win Best Musical and breakout star Ben Platt (“Pitch Perfect”) is tipped to take the Best Actor (Musical) award for his sensitive portrayal of a shy teenager suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Pasek and Paul, who contended in 2013 for “A Christmas Story,” are favored to win as is the book writer Steven Levenson.
“Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” which is based on a section of Leo Tolstoy’s epic tome “War and Peace,” had three previous productions before finally making it to Broadway. Dave Malloy (“Ghost Quartet”) should reap bids for his score, book and orchestrations and could win for the latter. Looking more like a lock is Rachel Chavkin for her innovative staging.
Grammy and Emmy winner Bette Midler is all but guaranteed to pick up a Tony for her show-stopping turn as the meddlesome matchmaker in “Hello, Dolly!.” This one-time Broadway baby was snubbed for her 2013 solo show “I’ll Eat You Last,” in which she played Hollywood agent Sue Mengers. However, the rave reviews and record ticket sales for this remounting of Jerry Herman‘s tuner make her the frontrunner. Among those she will face off against are a pair of two-time Tony champs — Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone — who play rival cosmeticians in “War Paint.”
Another musical revival, “Falsettos,” should win Tonys for featured players Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells, who are both past nominees. This 1992 Best Musical nominee had a limited run last winter and starred two-time Tony champ Christian Borle as Marvin, a newly out gay man who juggles relationships with his ex (Block), his boyfriend (Rannells), and a widening circle of friends.
Among new plays, a battle is brewing between two Pulitzer Prize winners who have finally made it to Broadway. Lynn Nottage just became the first woman to win the Pulitzer twice, picking up the prize for “Sweat,” her new play about life in the rust belt in the wake of economic upheaval. She had previously prevailed in 2011 for “Ruined,” which examined the lives of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Paula Vogel, who won the Pulitzer in 1998 for the memory play “How I Learned to Drive,” contends with “Indecent.” This provocative piece details the controversy surrounding Sholem Asch’s 1923 play “God of Vengeance.”
We are predicting that Nottage will prevail but watch out for “Oslo,” a new political drama by J.T. Rogers (“Blood and Gifts”). He recounts the efforts of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, Terje Rød-Larsen, — played by Tony winners Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays — to broker a peace deal between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in the 1990s.
Also in the mix is “A Doll’s House, Part 2″ by Obie-winning playwright Lucas Hnath (“Red Speedo”) that is a sequel of sorts to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic drama, “A Doll’s House.” Three-time Tony nominee Laurie Metcalf is favored to finally win for her fearless performance as Nora, who returns home some years on to find life has little changed. And while last year’s Featured Actress (Play) winner Jayne Houdyshell (“The Humans”) is likely to contend for her work here, that award is predicted to go to another stage vet, Johanna Day, who breaks hearts in “Sweat.”
Two-time Tony winner Kevin Kline is likely to pick up his third for his over-the-top performance as a self-indulgent actor in Noel Coward’s 1946 comedy “Present Laughter.” His strongest competition comes from Mays and Mark Ruffalo, who headlines a revival of Arthur Miller‘s 1968 Best Play nominee “The Price.” Ruffalo plays a man forced to give up his dream of an education to support his father during the Depression who returns to his family home three decades later to supervise its sale. Danny DeVito, who is making his Broadway debut, is predicted to win the Featured Actor (Play) prize for his scene-stealing performance as the furniture dealer hired to appraise the contents.
While both those new stagings of old classics are likely to contend for Best Play Revival, we are predicting that award will go to “Jitney,” August Wilson‘s 1982 play about a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. While Wilson won the Tony in 1987 for “Fences,” many of his plays, including “Jitney,” were not staged on Broadway in his lifetime.
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 nominees are announced on May 2. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.