Plenty of attention is paid to the top races and acting categories at the Tony Awards. But if you are looking to do well in our prediction contest, you will also have to make smart choices in the below the line categories as well. The three design categories often trip up Tony pundits, especially when there is no one play predicted to sweep. There is no single such juggernaut this season, which means upsets and surprises are likely. To provide some help with these tough categories, take a look at the analysis below before you make any final predictions.
I’ve said this before and was proved wrong, but this time I’m confident: Jane Greenwood will finally win a Tony on her 21st nomination. The famed costume designer was given a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2014, and recently took home the Drama Desk Award for her period specific work in “The Little Foxes.” Twelve Gold Derby experts back Greenwood to win her first Tony. Her closest competition is Susan Hilferty’s elegant tuxes and gowns in “Present Laughter.” Hilferty has the support of five Gold Derby experts. Both women produced stunning work, but the curse on Greenwood has become pretty ridiculous and her turn of the century outfits provide the perfect opportunity for Tony voters to make up for lost time.
The battle for this category will come down to two Best Play contenders according to our experts. A whopping fourteen of them predict Christopher Akerlind to prevail for “Indecent.” This previous Tony winner (“The Light in the Piazza”) is given a mostly bare stage to play with, where his lighting is essential in creating mood and setting. He also won the corresponding Drama Desk category. Three of our experts have shifted their support to “Oslo.” This powerful drama is perceived as the bigger competitor for Best Play, so it makes sense that it could upset a design category. Lighting designer Donald Holder is a two-time Tony winner (“The Lion King”, “South Pacific”), and certainly has support among the voters. Curiously, both “Indecent” and “Oslo” feature stunning use of projections. Projection designers are included on the ballot under Scenic Design (since the Tonys do not have a separate category for this craft), but voters may associate it with lighting instead.
Usually one or two grandiose sets stand far ahead of the pack, but this year is not so cut and dry. We can probably rule out Douglas W. Schmidt’s newsroom from “The Front Page.” This limited run ended months ago and has no support from our experts. If “Oslo” is the favorite for Best Play, then Michael Yeargan’s deceptively simple set could be carried along for the ride. Two experts are backing him, but it is rare that such a bare bones concept takes this category. That leaves Tony winner David Gallo for “Jitney” to compete with Nigel Hook’s crumbling walls in “The Play that Goes Wrong” (the show’s sole nomination) . “Jitney” surprised pundits with unexpected nominations in the design categories (Eight experts predict it will win here) and the set was vibrant and full of life. But Hook created an elaborate deathtrap so stuffed with sight gags and falling objects that it often upstaged the actors. If the scenic design is the star of the show, it often wins this tough category. Seven experts are buying that argument.
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on June 11. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums. Keep up with all the latest Gold Derby entertainment news.