Unlike recent Broadway seasons, this year’s Tony Award race for Best Musical is wide open. This is one of the few points on which David Buchanan and myself agree. As Tony season begins to heat up, David and I sat down to discuss potential nominations in the musical categories. Watch the full video above.
We think that there are currently three musicals with the potential to win the top award: “Be More Chill,” “Hadestown,” and “Tootsie.” We both list “Hadestown” as the current frontrunner due to its original score, fresh concept, and respected creative team. If these three shows are locked for a nomination, that will leave one open slot up for grabs in the Best Musical category.
David is backing “Ain’t Too Proud” with his fourth slot, the crowd pleasing story of The Temptations. But as Tony voters have strayed from jukebox musicals in favor of original score, I’m nervous to predict it in the top category. For now I’m sticking with Joe Iconis’ “Be More Chill.” Though when we discuss its chances in Best Score, I admit that the teenage skewing tuner is “not the Tony voters’ demographic.” As such, David is throwing a wildcard into his Best Score predictions. “I’m totally going out on a limb” he says, before admitting that he’s betting on Philip Glass’ score for “King Lear.”
Best Revival of a Musical only has two productions in contention: Roundabout’s mounting of the classic “Kiss Me, Kate” and a transfer of the dark St. Ann’s Warehouse version of “Oklahoma!” David is adamant that “Oklahoma!” is “far out front.” However, Daniel Fish’s bare bones, haunting production could prove divisive in a commercial market. “It’s not your grandma’s ‘Oklahoma!’” I chime in, thinking that voters could be pushed to “Kate” as it has more mass appeal. It will be a nail biter of a race.
As for Lead Actor in a Musical, we both agree that “Santino Fontana is the obvious winner”…at least for now. Last year, voters simply checked off “The Band’s Visit” everywhere they could, leading Tony Shalhoub to pull off a surprise victory in this category despite barely singing. If “Hadestown” does indeed become the favorite for Best Musical, we think Reeve Carney could benefit from a similar voting pattern. Fontana isn’t even the only funny man on the boards right now, and I note that Brooks Ashmanskas gives one of his best ever performances in “The Prom,” “cementing him as one of the best Broadway comedians.” Perhaps the race isn’t as locked as it seemed.
For Lead Actress in a Musical, it looks like it might finally be time for Stephanie J. Block to collect a Tony Award. But I hesitate to call her a lock because “I don’t know that ‘The Cher Show’ is going to get a Best Musical nomination.” And David points out that no actress since Heather Headley in “Aida” (2001) has won this category without a corresponding Best Musical nomination for her show. That would be quite a stat for Block to overcome. This could open the door for Beth Leavel, Eva Noblezada, Rebecca Naomi Jones and others to overtake the perceived frontrunner.
Be sure to make your Tony 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 nominations are announced on April 30. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Tonys taking place right now in our theater forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.