Tonys Best Musical Actress battle: Kelli O’Hara vs. Chita Rivera vs. Kristen Chenoweth

The hottest category for this year’s Tony Awards will probably be Best Musical Actress with a three-way battle for the prize. The trio of top musical ladies consists of Kelli O’Hara for “The King and I,” Chita Rivera for “The Visit” and Kristin Chenoweth for “On the Twentieth Century,”

Chenoweth is a previous winner, having taken a 1999 Featured Musical Actress Tony for her breakout performance in the revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” but she’s never won in lead (Her only other nomination was for “Wicked” which she lost to her co-star Idina Menzel.) She delivers an absolutely amazing performance as Lily Garland, the magnificently narcissistic film star. (Madeline Kahn was nominated for the 1978 original, but she left the production soon after the opening due to conflicts with director Harold Prince and she lost to Liza Minnelli for “The Act.”) Chenoweth sings operatically, masterfully mugs with the timing of Carol Burnett, and goes through numerous personalities such as the mousy but scrappy Mildred Plotka (Lily’s real name), the tempestuous Veronique (her first starring part) and the alcoholic British society bitch Babette (the lead role of her next prospective hit). Chenoweth’s also really popular—as her character Glinda sings in “Wicked”—and a Tony win would not be a surprise.

But O’Hara is equally beloved in the Broadway community and she’s never won a Tony despite five nominations (“The Light in the Piazza,” “The Pajama Game,” “South Pacific,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “The Bridges of Madison County”). Donna Murphy, the last actress to play her role of Mrs. Anna, the proper British schoolteacher educating the many children of the monarch of 19th century Siam, took home a Tony for the 1996 revival and many in the industry feel six should be O’Hara’s lucky number.

Many might count Rivera out of the running. After all, she has already collected two Tonys (for “The Rink” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) as well as seven additional nominations (“Bye, Bye Birdie,” “Chicago,” “Bring Back Birdie,” “Merlin,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Nine,” and “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life”). But “The Visit” will be the final leading Broadway performance for the 82-year-old Rivera and a valedictory Tony for sentimental reasons could be on several voters’ agendas.

Those three will definitely be nominated and the odds are one will be the winner. That leaves two slots open in the five-woman race.

They could be filled by Erin Davie and Emily Padgett who played the conjoined Hilton sisters in the “Side Show” revival. The original 1998 stars Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner received a joint Tony nomination, but this year’s Tony Administration Committee ruled that the current two must be judged separately, so they might cancel each other out. Plus the show has closed which always hurts a nominee’s chances.

More likely candidates include Vanessa Hudgens in “Gigi,” Leanne Cope in “An American in Paris,” Kelli Barrett in “Doctor Zhivago,” and Laura Michelle Kelly in “Finding Neverland.”

Rachel Tucker of “The Last Ship” is a dark horse since that Sting-composed show shuttered months ago and the actresses in “Fun Home” will probably be competing in the featured category.

Tony Awards experts’ predictions:
The King and I’ will win Best Musical Revival, ’20th Century’ could spoil

When it came to predicting the Tony Awards nominations last year, the Experts tied the Top 24 Users (those users with the best scores predicting the 2013 nominations) with an overall accuracy rate of 86.67%. Our Editors were at 80.42% while all Users averaged 67.92%. (Click on each group’s name to see their overall results from last year.)

As Gold Derby Users – just like YOU – turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it’s vital that you give us your predictions. Your picks factor into our Users racetrack odds. These, in turn, are a key component of Gold Derby’s official (combined) odds

Make the best predictions and you could win our contest prize: $100 Amazon gift certificate and a place of honor in our famous leaderboards. But be sure to take notice of the fine points of our official contest rules HERE.  

In order to win, you must have the highest accuracy percentage – and maybe more than that. If more than one player has the best accuracy, the winner is the person with the highest accuracy plus most game points. So, remember to place your three super bets when making predictions. Each player gets one super bet of 500 points and two of 200 points with all the other categories worth 100 points. Strategy is key. Place those super bets wisely and they could crown you our winner.

That’s what happened when we tallied up prediction scores for last year’s Tony Awards nominations. Nine users were tied at the top with a jaw-dropping 95% accuracy. However, J F Petsche was our official winner because he scored 6,046 points (including 2,915 points for Play Revival where he had placed his 500 point bet). Compare that to second-place finisher Ted Stevenson  who scored 5,674 points (he put his 500 point bet on Musical Revival and earned 2,333 points there). 

Get started by making your own predictions for Best Musical Actress using our easy drag-and-drop menu found at the bottom of this post.

You can continue to update and change your predictions until the morning of the nominations announcement on April 28. Just click “Save Predictions” when you’ve settled on your choice. And remember to place your 500 and 200-point bets wisely. 

To enter your predictions for the other genre categories, make sure you are logged into your Gold Derby account or register for a free account via Facebook, Twitter or Google.

After logging in, click on the “Predictions” button found at the top-right of every page. That will bring you to a list of every event currently being predicted at Gold Derby.

We are forecasting everything from the winners of the Academy of Country Music Awards and both Daytime and Primetime Emmys to the results on reality TV shows like “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor” and talent shows such as “American Idol” and “The Voice.” Click on any box to bring up that event, then scroll down to start making your predictions.

More News from GoldDerby