The 71st annual edition of the Tony Awards takes place on Sunday, June 11 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and airs live on CBS. The 863 members of the Broadway community who decide the winners have only until 6 p.m. ET on Friday (June 9) to get their ballots to the accounting firm of Grant Thornton, which will tally their votes.
The new tuner “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” has a leading 12 Tony Awards nominations while its closest rival for Best Musical, “Dear Evan Hansen” earned nine. On the play side, two new works — “A Doll’s House, Part 2” and “Oslo” had strong showings with eight and seven nominations respectively. Among revivals, the smash hit staging of the 1964 Best Musical champ “Hello, Dolly!” starring Bette Midler has 10 bids while two classic plays — “Jitney” and “The Little Foxes” — earned six nominations each.
“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 the frontrunner to win Best Musical while 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, with the addition of Grammy-winning Josh Groban boosting ticket sales. He reaped a bid as did leading lady Denée Benton and featured actor Lucas Steele. Dave Malloy (“Ghost Quartet”) reaped bids for his score, book and orchestrations as did Rachel Chavkin who is likely to win for her innovative staging.
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. This time around, the rave reviews and record ticket sales for this remounting of Jerry Herman‘s tuner make her the frontrunner.
“Oslo,” a new political drama by J.T. Rogers (“Blood and Gifts”), recounts the efforts of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, Terje Rød-Larsen, — played by Tony winners Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays who both reaped bids — to broker a peace deal between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in the 1990s. It is tipped to take Best Play.
“A Doll’s House, Part 2″ by Obie-winning playwright Lucas Hnath (“Red Speedo”) 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. The rest of the cast also earned nominations with Oscar winner Chris Cooper contending in lead while last year’s Featured Actress (Play) winner Jayne Houdyshell (“The Humans”) is back to defend her title against, among others, her co-star Condola Rashad.
We are predicting that Best Play Revival 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,” “Jitney” was not staged on Broadway in his lifetime. And 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 another revival, Noel Coward’s 1946 comedy “Present Laughter.”
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.