I often find that the design categories for plays at the Tony Awards are the easiest to predict. Oftentimes there is one show with the grandest or most obvious achievement in design, as with past winners like “Peter and the Starcatcher” (2012) and “War Horse” (2011). But the plays of this season buck that trend and offer suspenseful races.
To help you make your predictions in these three categories in our contest, take a look at my analysis of the contenders in each race, including a breakdown of the predictions by our 13 experts (journalists who cover the Broadway beat year-round.)
The only point our experts can agree on here, is that Michael Krass probably won’t step up to the podium for his colorful work on the limited run of “Noises Off.” The question is whether Jane Greenwood can finally win a competitive Tony on her 19th nomination (she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award in 2014). Her period work on “Long Day’s Journey into Night” gives her a detailed showcase and six of our experts are on her side. Two of the pundits are going with Tom Scutt for “King Charles III,” but the show has long been closed. The real threat to Greenwood is Clint Ramos, who provides critical darling “Eclipsed” with its best shot at Tony victory according to five experts. Though his work is essential to each character’s personalities, rarely does such modern garb prevail in this category.
All four nominees have a shot according to our experts. Natasha Katz has won this category five times, and her work on “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” includes an impressive day/night cycle and a dip into a haunting dreamscape. Justin Townsend’s design for “The Humans” is impressive for the sparse lighting effects during the play’s suspenseful finale. Jan Versweyveld is twice nominated in this category for his work on Ivo van Hove’s “The Crucible” and “A View from the Bridge.” The witchcraft and flashy lighting effects in “The Crucible” makes an obvious choice for voters, but “Bridge” became a must see event, and the bare bones set allowed the lighting to stand out. Seven experts currently back Versweyveld for “Bridge” but anything could happen here.
“Hughie” looked gorgeous but its life on Broadway was incredibly brief. I doubt most of the voters got to see the play before it closed, so Christopher Oram’s Tony prospects are slim. The buzzed about revival of “A View from the Bridge” landed Versweyveld two nominations. While he could sneak in, the set elements were kept minimal in order to highlight the actors and the text, so it might not be showy enough to win. This leaves us with a battle between Beowulf Borritt for “Therese Raquin” and David Zinn for “The Humans.” Tony winner Borritt is known for going big, and he managed to put an entire lake on stage. Zinn’s recreation of a dingy New York apartment lacks bells and whistles, but is gargantuan and detailed. While “Therese Raquin” has a more grandiose design, this is the sole nomination for the closed show. That should be enough for Best Play frontrunner “The Humans” to claim this award according to nine of our experts.
Make your Tony predictions HERE. You’ll compete to win our contest prize for best picks — $100 in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Tony winners). Be sure to read our contest rules.