Cracking the tough featured acting races is the key to winning our Tony Awards nominations predictions contest

Every year, the featured acting races at the Tony Awards prove to be the most daunting to predict. Whereas the lead races rarely have more than a dozen possibilities, there is a true embarrassment of riches to sift through when it comes to the supporting players. Before you make your 2018 Tony predictions in advance of the May 1 announcement read our breakdown of these four tough categories based on our official Tony Awards odds.

Featured Actor in a Play
Nathan Lane should send the Tony Administration Committee gift bags for placing him in the Featured category. His towering portrayal of Roy Cohn is likely to win. Lane’s co-star James McArdle should also find a spot for his neurotic Louis. The other sure bet is Anthony Boyle’s heart-wrenching and Olivier winning performance in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

We could simply fill out the category with the other “Angels” actors Lee Pace and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, but other admired performances might edge those two out. David Morse garnered praise for “The Iceman Cometh” and has already picked up Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations. That last minute surge should help him.

I’d love to see Ron Cook take the final slot for “The Children,” but that quiet performance will likely be overtaken by the men from “Lobby Hero,” who all compete in Featured Actor. Michael Cera has the biggest role, but Chris Evans and Bryan Tyree Henry landed Drama League nominations. I give the slight edge to critical darling Henry.

SEE 2018 Tony Awards nominations preview: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,’ ‘The Band’s Visit’ will dominate

Featured Actress in a Play
Get ready for a showdown between Tony winner Laurie Metcalf from “Three Tall Women” and Olivier winner Denise Gough from “Angels in America.” Noma Dumezweni is an Olivier winner also guaranteed a slot for playing grown up Hermione Granger in “Harry Potter.” From there it gets tricky. Laura Benanti was an early favorite for stealing every scene in “Meteor Shower,” but could be forgotten amid the onslaught of spring shows.

If that’s true, “Three Tall Women” and “Angels in America” will double up on nominations here, with the inclusion of Alison Pill and Susan Brown. Anyone wanting to go out on a limb for dark horse candidates should look to Bel Powley (“Lobby Hero”) or the women from “The Children,” Francesca Annis and Deborah Findlay.

PREDICT the Tony Awards nominees and winners now; change them until May 1

Featured Actor in a Musical
Get him to the Tonys on time! Norbert Leo Butz is undoubtedly the frontrunner for a spry and comical turn in “My Fair Lady.” Previous Tony nominee Gavin Lee is another great bet for his four-legged tap routine in “SpongeBob SquarePants.” And Grey Henson has audiences rooting for him in “Mean Girls,” which was good enough for a Drama Desk nomination. From here the category is murky.

Alexander Gemignani of “Carousel” has been singled out as well. Much of his character’s material was cut from this revival, but voters may decide it’s finally time to reward this long working actor. Jelani Alladin has picked up Drama Desk and Drama League nominations for playing Kristoff in “Frozen.” His Drama League mention is particularly impressive since they chose to recognize him over Caissie Levy’s showstopping turn as Elsa. If nominators’ memories go back far enough, they could rally around Tony Yazbeck. His rendition of ‘The Right Girl’ was the highlight of “Prince of Broadway,” and earned him mentions from The Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desks.

Still, many pundits are choosing two smaller roles to fill the gaps: Ari’el Statchel for crooning a love ballad in “The Band’s Visit” and Alex Newell for belting to the heavens and bringing audiences to their feet in “Once on This Island.” Though both performers only get one solo number each, the musicals that feature them are critic and audience favorites.

SEE 2018 Tony Awards predictions: Complete odds for 72nd Tonys nominations

Featured Actress in a Musical
With “Mean Girls’” Taylor Louderman moved up to Lead Actress, the path is cleared for Lindsay Mendez to dominate this category. Her role in “Carousel” is the one that brought Audra McDonald her first Tony Awards. It is a mystery as to who will join her, as this is the hardest acting category to predict.

“Mean Girls” should still have a solid presence thanks to the “plastics” Ashley Park and Kate Rockwell. Park has been nominated by every awards group thus far, bolstered by a second celebrated performance in the Off-Broadway musical “KPOP.”  Voters could throw yet another “Mean Girls” actress into the mix with Barrett Wilbert Weed, who gets an anthemic tune about self empowerment. Plenty of pundits are instead name checking Diana Rigg for “My Fair Lady,” but it’s a small non-singing role.

“Once on This Island” has a few contenders, with Tony winner Lea Salonga ranking the best in Gold Derby’s combined odds. Though I would argue that Merle Dandridge would get the spot for redefining Papa Ge if she were still in the production (she left months ago to film “Greenleaf”). Fan favorite Kenita R. Miller was the only actor from the production recognized by the Drama Desks. If the women from “Island” cancel each other out, Ariana DeBose from “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” could sneak in. Best known for her slick dance moves, she surprises with a powerhouse rendition of ‘MacArthur Park.’ In such a split category, a number like that might be enough to seal the deal.

DISCUSS all the Tony contenders with Broadway insiders in our notorious forums

Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions today so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on May 1. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Tonys taking place right now in our theater forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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