The Siegel Column By Barbara & Scott Siegel
Our Tony Award Predictions (plus who should win):
It will win. It should win – because it’s the best play of the year, by far! That it happens to be an American play makes us all, in the New York theater community, just a little bit prouder.
Bet the farm. It will win. It should win. Shuffle Along is the only genuine contender but it’s nowhere near the genius of Lin-Manuel’s masterpiece.
Best Revival of a Play
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
It will win. It should win. Not a great year for play revivals with two over-praised Arthur Miller revivals, both of which have been better directed in the past. The only real contender is Long Day’s Journey, which is solid and respectable. Oddly enough, despite the awards and praise heaped upon Jessica Lange and Michael Shannon, the most majestic performance in the show is being given by Gabriel Byrne. Glad the Tony Awards saw fit to honor him with a nomination in the Acting category.
Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
This is a really competitive category; all of them are worthy – or at least have good reasons why they could win. We’ll pick The Color Purple to win, and say that it should win, as well, because it is the one show that so genuinely betters its original. Kudos to director John Doyle!
Best Book of a Musical
No-brainer. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book for Hamilton is sensational. Nothing comes near it. Will Win. Should win.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Again, a no-brainer. Hamilton will sweep the creative awards, with Lin-Manuel Miranda leading the way. Will win. Should win.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Another strong category, but both the sentimental – and the earned votes – will go to Frank Langella in a performance that is a career-capper. Frank Langella will win and should win.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Again, no contest. Jessica Lange’s performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night is a lock. Will win; should win.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Now it gets interesting; will the Hamilton train stay on the rails and pick up acting awards? When it ran competitively last season in its Off-Broadway incarnation, it mostly did not win in the acting categories. Danny Burstein is a much-beloved New York actor. We think the Tony Awards voters will not go with the TV actor (Zachary Levi) nor the star of any Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber show. Therefore, Danny Burstein will win; and he should win.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Phillipa Soo is not going to win. The category is largely up for grabs but whoever wins it, it won’t be Phillipa, not because she doesn’t give a strong performance, but because the other candidates have bigger parts to play, more songs to sing, and more scenes to act. Laura Benanti has finally graduated to leading lady and she is a genuine Broadway baby; Jessie Mueller (Waitress) is fast-becoming the next Sutton Foster, effortlessly giving another great performance (but with the happy baggage of having already won in this category last year). Carmen Cusack came out of nowhere and is knocking folks out with her performance in Bright Star (but the show is struggling at the box office), while Cynthia Erivo is yet another new face on Broadway who is killing it in The Color Purple, which is, indeed, a hit revival. In what could be a very close race, figure Cynthia Erivo will win, but any of the others, except Phillipa Soo could win -J.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
For some inexplicable reason, Michael Shannon has been winning a lot of critics awards for his performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. For our money, he’s perfectly fine but essentially miscast. The two best performances in this category are those of Bill Camp in The Crucible and Reed Birney in The Humans. One could even argue that Mr. Birney’s role is nominally the lead in his play. Both Bill Camp and Reed Birney have been too often overlooked by the Tony Awards because they are such natural, subtle actors. We fear that Michael Shannon might, indeed, win, but the award should go to Reed Birney; he is simply the best actor of his generation on Broadway.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
This is a curious category because one could say the two Eclipsed Actresses, Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh could cancel each other out, just as the two Noises Off actresses, Megan Hilty and Andrea Martin, could cancel themselves out, leaving only Jayne Houdyshell of The Humans to walk away with the award. Comedy, once again, will not get respect, leaving Hilty and Martin behind, and one of the two Eclipsed actresses, because the play is a strong drama have a chance but Jayne Houdyshell is the most deserving performer and will win.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
In this case, the Hamilton actors, David Diggs, Jonathan Groff, and Christopher Jackson, will, in fact, cancel themselves out. Brandon Victor Dixon will get lost in the shuffle, and Christopher Fitzgerald, for his wonderfully madcap performance in Waitress, will win. And, frankly, he deserves it!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Jane Krakowski’s role in She Loves Me is the role that always wins awards. Then again, so is the role of Sophia in The Color Purple so Danielle Brooks has got a great shot, too. Adrienne Warren just about steals Shuffle Along from Audra and the rest of the bigger-named cast, so she must be a contender, as well. Renee Elise Goldsberry is fierce in Hamilton – and it’s Hamilton – so she has to be considered a strong contender, too. But there is always an upset in one of these categories, and we think this is the one where it will happen. It will be with shock and awe that Jennifer Simard, from Disaster, will be the surprise winner. With all due respect to all of the wonderful performers in this category, the one who deserves it the most is Adrienne Warren; she gives a star-making performance in Shuffle Along in a cast that is full of towering talents.
Best Scenic Design of a Play
A View From the Bridge will win; but Therese Raquin should win.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
David Korins will win for Hamilton, and he should win because the set, though apparently simple, is the perfect playing space for the action that unfolds.
Best Costume Design of a Play
Clint Ramos for Eclipsed will win and should win.
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Paul Tazewell for Hamilton will win and should win.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Justin Townsend for The Humans will win and should win.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley will win for Hamilton and should win.
Best Direction of a Play
Joe Mantello will win for The Humans – and he deserves to win, as well.
Best Direction of a Musical
Thomas Kail will win for Hamilton and deserves to win for Hamilton. But all of the directors in this category performed inspired work. Losing to Hamilton, however, is something of an honor, in itself.
It’s hard to know where Andy Blankenbuehler’s inspired choreography gives way to Thomas Kail’s direction, but the kinetic, breathtaking, and original choreography of Hamilton will win, despite the flashy work by Savion Glover in Shuffle Along. Andy Blankenbuehler should win and will win – and his work in this show will probably be studied for decades to come, much like Jerome Robbins’s choreography for West Side Story. It doesn’t get more brilliant than this – and it’s the choreography of Hamilton that gives the show its stylish veneer.
And the icing on the Hamilton cake, Alex Lacamoire will (and deserves to) win for his orchestrations.
So, count ‘em up: Hamilton will win 9 Tony Awards. Not too shabby.