Tony Awards preview: What plays could contend?

While this year’s Best Musical race at the Tony Awards is well-defined, that for Best Play is far more fluid. The majority of the contenders in this category are opening in the weeks before the April 24 cut-off date for eligibility. Nominations will be announced on April 28 with the 67th edition of these top theater honors taking place on June 8.

“All the Way”
“Casa Valentina”
“Mothers and Sons”
“Outside Mullingar”
“The Realistic Joneses”
“The Velocity of Autumn”

Attention will have to be paid to three Tony winners who are bringing new plays to Broadway:

Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley “Moonstruck,” 1987) picked up both the Tony and Pulitzer for his first Broadway play “Doubt” in 2005. He returns with the romantic comedy “Outside Mullingar” which stars Brian F. O’Byrne, who reaped a Tony bid for “Doubt,” and Emmy champ Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”). Opened Jan. 23

Terrence McNally won two of his four Tonys for the plays “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (1995) and “Master Class” (1996); the others were for the books of the musicals “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993) and “Ragtime” (1998). He is back on Broadway as a playwright for the first time since 2007 (“Deuce”) with “Mothers and Sons.” Tyne Daly, who headlined the 2011 revival of “Master Class,” plays a woman who has an unexpected reunion with her late son’s lover two decades on. Back in 1990, Daly won the Tony for headlining a revival of “Gypsy.” And she has won six of her 16 Emmy bids. Opens March 24

Harvey Fierstein won two of his four Tonys for writing and starring in Best Play champ “Torch Song Trilogy” back in 1983. His others were for the book of the 1984 Best Musical “La Cage aux Folles” and as Best Musical Actor for “Hairspray” in 2003. He returns to the rialto as a playwright for the first time since 1987’s “Safe Sex” with “Casa Valentina,” a seriocomic look at a real-life camp in the Catskills that catered to cross dressers in the 1950s. Opens April 23

1992 Pultizer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan (“The Kentucky Cycle”) is finally back on Broadway with the political drama “All the Way.” Three-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) makes his Broadway debut as Lyndon B. Johnson who struggles with power in the first year of his presidency. Opens March 6. 

Off Broadway scribe Will Eno, a Pultizer finalist in 2005 for “Thom Pain (based on nothing),” makes his Broadway debut with “The Realistic Joneses.” The surreal comedy of manners features a slew of top talent: Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (“My Cousin Vinnie), Emmy champ Toni Collette (“The United States of Tara”), SAG winner Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) and Pulitzer-winning playwright Tracy Letts (“August: Osage County”) who won a Tony for acting in the 2012 revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virigina Woolf”). Opens April 6

And regional theater import Eric Coble comes to Broadway for the first time with the seriocomic “The Velocity of Autumn,” which stars Oscar winner Estelle Parsons (“Bonnie & Clyde”) as woman who defies the attempts by her son (two-time Tony champ Stephen Spinella) to move her into a nursing home. Opens April 21. 

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