The Daily Beast
Get Ready for Bette Midler vs. Glenn Close: Who Will Scoop Tony Award Nominations?
By TIM TEEMAN
05.01.17 12:02 AM ET
Last year it was a Hamilton rout. When it comes to the 2017 Tonys, will it be Hello, Dolly! all the way (albeit with fewer nominations than Hamilton), or will Falsettos spike Bette Midler’s guns? For best play, Lucas Hnath’s Ibsen sequel, A Doll’s House, Part 2, squares up to J.T. Rogers’ brilliant geopolitical drama Oslo.
Elsewhere, Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito are pitched against Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon, in two revivals (of Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman), and the 9/11 musical Come From Away is in competition with the much-buzzed-about teen suicide musical Dear Evan Hansen.
Yes, the Tonys race is about to begin. On Monday, the Tony nominees’ names will be decided by the 42-strong Tony nominating committee, making their choices from a field of 37 eligible shows.
Early Tuesday morning, the 2017 Tony nominations will be announced. After that, the nominees set out to secure the votes of the 846 Tony voters. The awards will be televised on June 11 on CBS, hosted by Kevin Spacey. James Earl Jones will be receiving this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Below is the comprehensive Daily Beast guide to who’s in the running for nominations. Read our reviews of the shows via the embedded links.
Best Play: the shows, actors, and production teams
In the best play category one frontrunner is J.T. Rogers’ supremely good Oslo, which tells the astonishing story of the brokering of Middle East peace via the Oslo Accords of 1993.
Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle are worthy lead actor and actress contenders, with a host of featured actor possibilities, surely a nod for Michael Yeargan’s stunning in-the-round design and for direction (Bartlett Sher).
For this critic, Oslo’s most obvious competition is Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, the last show to open this season and a wonderful, respectful, yet subversive extension of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, A Doll’s House.
Laurie Metcalf must be nominated for lead actress (the most competitive category—expect some big-name snubs)—with the other actors Jayne Houdyshell (winner of the featured actress Tony last year), Chris Cooper, and Condola Rashad all deserving nods too. Sam Gold should receive a directing nomination (meaning he could get two, if successful for The Glass Menagerie, see below); with Miriam Buether and David Zinn scoring set and costume design nods too.
Another best play likely nominee, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, played better on the Public Theater’s smaller stage, than on Broadway, yet the production is very much of the moment.
Other nominations are possible for Kate Whoriskey for direction, and for Michelle Wilson and Johanna Day as best friends whose relationship is split asunder as their town enters terminal economic decline.
Do not count out the wonderful, nervy relationship comedy-drama Heisenberg. This surely deserves a best play nod, as do its two leads, Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt, and a nod for Mark Brokaw’s nimble direction is also merited.
Paula Vogel’s Indecent, a historical time-traveling tale encompassing lesbian love, fascism, and artistic expression and repression, earned a strong set of reviews—and may well earn nominations for Vogel, director and co-creator Rebecca Taichman and David Dorfman’s choreography. Its musical element, overseen by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva, also merits consideration.
The very funny and well-directed Oh, Hello on Broadway could receive a nomination in the very crowded best play category, but it is perhaps unlikely that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney would be considered for lead actor.
Similarly uproarious and critically hailed, the country house murder satire The Play That Goes Wrong—a London transfer—could also be in contention, with Henry Shields eligible for a nomination for lead actor.
Given its mischievous and pratfall-laden set design by Nigel Hook, that may win it a design nod too, alongside Mark Bell’s frenzied direction.
Simon McBurney’s The Encounter deserves consideration, if for nothing else that something so original played on a Broadway stage. The story of a jungle adventure gone awry, the audience was furnished with special ear pieces that allowed them to be spookily aurally intimate with the action that McBurney narrated; he deserves a lead actor nomination.
The Present was well-received, but enough for a best play nod for Andrew Upton, who adapted it from an early Chekhov play? The excellent Cate Blanchett deserves a lead actress nod, the wonderful Richard Roxburgh deserves a nomination too, and for direction—he got Blanchett firing a gun while standing on a table, for goodness sake—John Crowley merits consideration. Alice Babidge’s ingenious design was notable.
Significant Other by Joshua Harmon would be an outsider in the category; however the play, directed by Trip Cullman, was very popular (this critic was a rare dissenter), and so the Tony-nominating panel might decide the category might benefit from the inclusion of a modern-set play with a popular, young lead (Gideon Glick). If so, the excellent Sas Goldberg also deserves to be in “featured” consideration too.
Best Musical: the shows, actors, and production teams
The most buzz about the lead actor in a musical category surrounds Ben Platt in the equally buzzed-about (for best musical itself) Dear Evan Hansen, by Oscar-winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
This critically lauded musical about the ripples of a teen suicide may well pick up other nominations for design (David Korins), plus direction for Michael Greif; and “feature” nominations for Mike Faist and (the excellent) Kristolyn Lloyd.
Another strong contender (skewing to the more toe-tapping-musical lover) is the brilliant Come From Away, the musical set in Gander, Newfoundland, about what happened when a group of diverted 9/11 flights landed there. There may be associated nods for Irene Sankoff and David Hein (for their book, music, and lyrics), director Christopher Ashley, and Beowulf Boritt’s stage design. Although an ensemble, Jenn Colella could pick up a featured performer nomination.
A surprise late contender vying for deserved nominations is the lushly orchestrated Anastasia.
Not radical or genre-challenging, this traditional, stately, and immaculately sung and staged—if totally history-defying—story of the young supposedly survived Romanov princess is a joy. Nominations would be well deserved for Christy Altomare (lead actress), and for “featured” roles Ramin Karimloo, Caroline O’Connor, and Mary Beth Peil. Linda Cho’s costumes were the most sumptuous of the season. Darko Tresnjak’s direction, and Alexander Dodge and Aaron Rhyne’s design merit consideration too.
Another original musical contender, Tim Minchin’s Groundhog Day The Musical (with book by Danny Rubin) won mixed reviews, but when its star Andy Karl was injured, approbation rained down as he limped manfully through opening night.
Karl will most likely get a lead actor nomination, with Barrett Doss deservedly getting a featured actress nomination; she is great in a pretty thankless role. Matthew Warchus may get a nomination for best direction too, and Paul Kieve should receive something that takes account of his brilliant illusions that allow Karl to suddenly appear on stage again after he has seemingly departed it.
The really-quite-lackluster but much-hyped War Paint, featuring Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole as in-conflict cosmetics titans Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, may score a best musical nomination (the actresses, who are excellent, may be nominated too). Catherine Zuber’s luxe costumes might get a nod.
The dizzying Russian-themed love, betrayal, and arts-themed musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will almost certainly win a nomination for best musical, with possible other nominations for Denée Benton and Josh Groban—and almost certainly for Rachel Chavkin’s exuberant direction and Mimi Lien’s inventive design, which saw actors climbing and sitting astride those spectators lucky enough to sit on the tiered stage. Bradley King’s “comet” may win the lighting award for its shimmering beauty alone.
There was much critical love, including from me, for In Transit about lives intersecting in New York’s public transport system, but likely not enough to win best musical. However, if there is room it should merit design, orchestration, and direction nods.
Amélie, which this critic thought poor, will likely not do well; its title performance by Phillipa Soo (formerly of Hamilton) was strong but perhaps not enough for a nomination.
Bandstand, as traditional a Broadway musical there can be, is strongly performed, but—for our critic—thematically timid and weak. However, Corey Cott and Laura Osnes, both gifted performers, may score nominations. Director Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is also standout.
For me, the prancey and cheery Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical was pleasant enough, but labored. It may receive a nomination only if space allows. Bryce Pinkham and Lora Lee Gayer are eligible for lead actor and actress, if the voters are swayed by their charms.
There is little, as yet, buzz about Paramour and A Bronx Tale. That leaves the not-much-embraced Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, with Christian Borle unlikely to score a best actor nomination as Willy Wonka (he would be more likely to be nominated for his wonderful role in Falsettos, see below).
Charlie’s show-stealing, wonderful Jackie Hoffman—as Mike Teavee’s harried mom—would deserve a nod for featured actress.
Best Revival of a Play: the shows, actors, and production teams
Although they swap lead roles, Laura Linney will be the production’s lead actress nomination in the brilliantly staged revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes—with co-star Cynthia Nixon hoping to score a nomination in the featured actress category.
There may be nods too for Richard Thomas in the featured actor category (although many in the company would be deserving of the same), as well as Daniel Sullivan’s direction, Scott Pask’s design, Jane Greenwood’s costumes, and Justin Townsend’s lighting.
Another strong contender in the packed and starry play-revival category is Sam Gold’s radical interpretation of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, which split the critics (I was a hearty supporter); with Sally Field as lead actress, and her fellow castmates—Joe Mantello, Madison Ferris, and Finn Wittrock—deserving featured actor nominations. There should also be nominations for Andrew Lieberman’s set, and Gold’s direction.
The revival of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation will be hoping Allison Janney will be score a lead actress nod, but she faces tough competition to secure it.
Corey Hawkins will be eligible for lead actor in his smooth performance as trickster Paul, while John Benjamin Hickey, who plays Janney’s husband, would be eligible for featured actor (both again are in highly competitive categories). Clint Ramos’s killer Janney costumes, Mark Wendland’s red-drenched set, and Trip Cullman’s direction could also earn deserved recognition.
The revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter features a delectable, comic, and nomination-worthy performance from Kevin Kline as vain actor and roué Garry Essendine. Please let there be a “featured” nod for the fabulous Kristine Nielsen as Monica, Garry’s wry and stoic secretary.
The category will almost certainly include a nod for August Wilson’s Jitney, with supplementary nods perhaps going to David Gallo’s scenic design for the play’s taxi firm locale, and for direction (Ruben Santiago-Hudson)—with any one of the impressive company scoring acting nods, particularly John Douglas Thompson and Harvy Blanks. Costume design by Toni-Leslie James should also score a nomination.
For all Derek McLane’s evocative New York loft-within-an-apartment design—with skyline dotted by water towers—Arthur Miller’s The Price felt leaden.
Mark Ruffalo’s star-power may earn him lead actor recognition, though Danny DeVito’s bravura, show-stealing performance almost certainly will earn him a featured actor nomination.
Another slight revival misfire, The Front Page, may yet garner a best featured actor nomination for Nathan Lane and featured actress for Holland Taylor; and maybe John Goodman and Jefferson Mays too.
Only Mad Men star John Slattery is eligible for a lead actor nod for the show. It may even, just for its scale and star-packedness and energy, pick up a best play revival nomination.
The Cherry Orchard—which counts as a revival, though adapted by Stephen Karam—was lovely to look at but unevenly paced and directed, with no standout performances, including from lead actress Diane Lane. It may receive no nominations.
A similarly underpowered Les Liaisons Dangereuses fizzled too, although the excellent Janet McTeer may receive a lead actress nomination. Its costumes by Tom Scutt certainly deserve consideration.
Best Revival of a Musical: the shows, actors, and production teams
All four other contenders are up against the superlative Hello, Dolly!.
It is highly unlikely that Sunset Boulevard will win this category, and the same for Glenn Close against Bette Midler for lead actress in a musical—but hey, diva throwdown, anyone? While SB looked glorious, and Close is fantastic, the sheer energy and slickness of Dolly! trumps it.
So, Dolly! may deservedly reign supreme with Tonys possible for Midler, David Hyde Pierce (for lead actor), Gavin Creel and Kate Baldwin possible for featured roles, its costumes and design by Santo Loquasto, and direction for Jerry Zaks. (Whether it is true, as one recent rumor has it, that Dolly Parton will take over the role from Midler when Midler steps down remains to be seen.)
What might, even should, stand in Dolly!’s way is the moving and beautifully written AIDS-era musical Falsettos by William Finn (James Lapine co-wrote the book with Finn), with Christian Borle a likely nominee for lead actor (though not for Willy Wonka, see above).
Borle’s fellow actors would all be worthwhile candidates for featured actor and actress—Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block and Brandon Uranowitz. Lapine, Falsettos’ director, and designer David Rockwell merit nominations too.
It is possible that Cats could make it on to the final nominated musical revival nominees’ list, but it is not likely.
The racist, sexist mess of Miss Saigon will likely cut Cats out of contention. When it comes to matters of scale, spectacle, and song—if not the questionable drama and themes of said songs—Miss Saigon has the edge. Individual nominations could deservedly go to the show’s Eva Noblezada and Jon Jon Briones.