As the Tony Award season eligibility period comes to a close, one thing is certain: Audra McDonald is a shoo-in to earn her seventh nomination for the acclaimed musical revival of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” McDonald has won four Tonys, all for Best Featured Actress.
Curiously, McDonald has lost both of her bids for Best Leading Actress. But thanks to stellar reviews and white hot buzz, McDonald might be adding that Lead Actress Tony to her mantle this June.
McDonald won Tonys for 1994’s “Carousel” and 1998’s “Ragtime” (Best Featured Musical Actress); and 1996’s “Master Class” and 2004’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (Best Featured Play Actress). She also earned Best Musical Actress nominations for 1999’s “Marie Christine” and 2007’s “110 In the Shade.” McDonald has received some of the best reviews of her career for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and will surely earn a third Best Musical Actress bid.
Past Tony winners Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone are also contenders for “Follies” and “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” respectively. Past nominee Kelli O’Hara (“Nice Work If You Can Get It”) and newcomer Elena Roger (“Evita”) could also find themselves among this year’s nominee list.
But McDonald’s main competition will likely come from Jan Maxwell (“Follies”). Maxwell is a four-time Tony nominee who has yet to win so she could be a sentimental favorite. However, Maxwell’s co-star, Peters, has been equally praised.
The Drama Desk Award, a major precursor to the Tony Awards, will help shed some light onto this race. But right now, McDonald gets the slight edge because she doesn’t have to share a category with a co-star and her show is still open.