Tony Awards preview: Will Kelli O’Hara finally win Best Actress (Musical)?

Kelli O’Hara has reaped a Tony bid for each of her most recent four appearances on the Broadway stage, beginning with her featured work in “The Light in the Piazza” in 2005 and continuing with her star turns in the tuners “The Pajama Game” (2006), “South Pacific” (2008) and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” (2012). However, she has yet to take home a Tony.

Her luck could be changing this year with her touching portrayal of a housewife who embarks on an affair in “Bridges of Madison County.” The best-selling 1992 novel by Robert James Waller already was adapted into a film in 1995 that reaped yet another Oscar bid for Meryl Streep

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Among her competitors are two past Tony champs: Sutton Foster and Idina Menzel.

Foster has won two of her five bids in this race — “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2002) and “Anything Goes” (2011) — and could contend this year for the first Broadway production of “Violet.” She plays the title character, a physically and emotionally scarred woman who embarks on search for healing.  New York Times critic Ben Brantley called her performance “career redefining.”

A decade after winning this Tony for “Wicked,” Menzel returns to the rialto in “If/Then,” a new musical from Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, This pair won the Pulitzer as well as a Tony for their last musical, “Next to Normal.” While the show about a woman faced with a fork in the road received tepid reviews, Menzel is riding a wave of popularity thanks to her role in Disney’s Oscar-winning “Frozen” including her performance of the Best Song “Let It Go.”

Tony Awards preview:
Cherry Jones vs. Audra McDonald for Best Actress (Play)

Three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams made her Broadway debut in a well-received remounting of 1967 Best Musical winner “Cabaret.” She takes on the role of Sally Bowles that won an Oscar for Liza Minnelli in 1972 and the Tony for Natasha Richardson in the 1998 revival, which this production faithfully recreates. 

Two years ago, Jessie Mueller reaped a Tony bid for her featured work in “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” This year, she could contend for her star turn as legendary songwriter Carole King in “Beautiful.” This jukebox musical chronicles King’s rise to stardom and her troubled marriage to fellow songwriter Gerry Goffin

Another possible contender for playing a famous songstress is Mary Bridget Davis for the long-shuttered “A Night with Janis Joplin.” 

While Courtney Reed could reap a bid buoyed by the success of “Aladdin,” Krysta Rodriguez is a long-shot for “First Date,” which closed in January. 

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Nominees will be announced on April 29 and the 68th annual Tony Awards take place on June 8. Predict the winner of the Best Musical race below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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