“It’s a pleasure that we have so many to choose from!” exclaims David Buchanan of the 13 new musicals and musical revivals competing for the 2022 Tony Awards. After the pandemic decimated Broadway and resulted in only a handful of eligible tuners at the last ceremony, it’s a joy to be able to discuss a genuinely competitive lineup of musicals from the 2021-2022 Broadway season. David and I sat down six weeks before nominations are announced – on May 3 – to dish which productions, actors, and creatives will make the cut. Watch the full video above.
David and I are both in agreement that “SIX” and “A Strange Loop” are leaders of the pack when it comes to the Best Musical race. The former casts the six wives of Henry VIII as pop divas while the later is a transfer of an Off-Broadway smash about a black, gay writer trying to navigate the theater world. We also think “Girl From the North Country” is competitive for a nomination, though I wonder how Tony nominators will react to jukebox musicals (the show uses Bob Dylan songs to tell its story) after being forced to nominate only jukebox catalogs last year. But “North Country” at least tells an original story. David is curious about the “unknown wildcards” of “Paradise Square” and “Mr. Saturday Night” (the two new musicals yet to open), before proclaiming “I’m going out on a limb with ‘Flying Over Sunset.’” The limb must be sturdy, since I’m also backing that Lincoln Center Theater venture despite it finishing its limited run back in January. “This is James Lapine we’re talking about,” I declare, reminding everyone of the Broadway legend’s incredible Tony track record. “To bet against him is quite foolish.”
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The other major show prize is Best Musical Revival, where there will only be three nomination slots for four eligible productions. “So we have to basically predict who gets left out,” I joke. “We do have one sight unseen, which complicates things,” explains David, referring to “Funny Girl” which has yet to premiere. But then he throws me for a loop by declaring “I am predicting a snub for ‘The Music Man’ at this moment in time.” At this point, Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster fans will be screaming in disbelief, as will the producers who are looking at weekly grosses of over $3 million. But David elaborates that he’s “feeling a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ scenario going on, where it seems too big to fail,” recalling the shocking snub of that successful drama in Best Play. A surprise omission would be good news for the sublime revival of “Caroline, or Change” which will hope to earn a spot despite having ended a limited run in the winter. In any case, we agree that Marianne Elliott’s dynamic and gender-bent “Company” is the frontrunner…for now.
Thankfully David isn’t so crazy to think that Hugh Jackman will miss a nomination for Lead Actor. Though neither David or myself predict he will ultimately win the prize. Instead we see Jaquel Spivey (“A Strange Loop”) and Myles Frost (“MJ”) as the kind of breakout stars who could be rewarded. I point out that Tony Yazbeck (“Flying Over Sunset”) feels “overdue” with Tony voters waiting for the right time to reward him. But with Rob McClure (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) and Billy Crystal (“Mr. Saturday Night”) standing in the way, a nomination could be an uphill battle for Yazbeck.
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When it comes to Lead Actress, the Tony Administration Committee through awards-watchers a curveball by declaring that all six actresses would be eligible for the lead race. Considering each woman sings one solo number, it seemed a given that they would all fall under featured actress, like so many ensembles before them. “I think this is a big problem” states David, “I’m surprised by the ruling.” I concur that sadly, the most likely scenario is that these co-stars will cancel each other out when it’s time to vote. But confusion continues since other than Sharon D. Clarke (“Caroline, or Change”), David and I make convincing arguments for most of the other contenders. I think Joaquina Kalukango (“Paradise Square”) and Katrina Lenk (“Company”) will make the cut, while David is considering Mare Winningham (“Girl From the North Country”) and Beanie Feldstein (“Funny Girl”). Both of us think Carmen Cusack (“Flying Over Sunset”) can sneak in for her closed musical.
We go on to discuss whether anyone can defeat Patti LuPone (David gives an emphatic “no”), who could pop up in a wide open featured actor race (is it Matt Doyle’s to lose?), and what might claim director and score (there’s actually musicals in contention this time!). Be sure to watch our full video debate to get all of our thoughts before logging your early Tony nomination predictions.
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