The Tony Awards: Who should and who will win Sunday

USA Today
The Tony Awards: Who should and who will win Sunday
Bill Canacci, Asbury Park Press Published 11:36 a.m. ET June 8, 2017

Move over Hamilton, here comes The Divine Miss M.

Yes, Bette Midler is packing them in at the fun revival of Hello, Dolly! — which is nominated for 10 Tony Awards.

But she’s far from the only highlight of the 2016-17 season, which wraps up Sunday with the 71st annual Tony Awards (on CBS, 8 p.m. ET).

For theatergoers, this night is bigger than the Super Bowl — and a way to celebrate all that was good during the season.

So who will take home the big prizes, Best Play and Best Musical?

Difficult to say. And there are other categories that are tough choices, too.

But after the dominance of Hamilton last year, competition is a good thing, right?

Here are my thoughts (not predictions) on who and what shows should win:

Best Play

Nominees: A Doll’s House, Part 2; Indecent; Oslo; and Sweat.

Oslo, my favorite show from 2016, takes theatergoers behind the scenes of the secret 1993 Israel-Palestine peace talks.

It comes down to Sweat and Oslo. Both are timely and politically charged — and both deserve to win. Oslo is the more elaborate production, and probably will win.

Best Musical

Nominees:Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Groundhog Day The Musical; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.

At some point this season, Dear Evan Hansen was a favorite to win. This modern emo-musical featuring a teen who feels ignored is full of great songs and performances.

But I loved Come From Away, the inspiring little musical that tells the story of what happened to a small Canadian town when 38 planes were diverted to its airport on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a show about community and coming together. It makes you feel good, and we could all use that now, right?

Best Revival of a Play

Nominees:August Wilson’s Jitney; Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Present Laughter by Noel Coward; John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation.

All decent productions, but Jitney deserves to win. One of Wilson’s best plays, the story takes place in a cab station in 1970s Pittsburgh.

Best Revival of a Musical

Nominees:Falsettos; Hello, Dolly! ; Miss Saigon.

This one should not be a contest: Hello, Dolly! is fun, features a great cast and is led by Bette Midler. What more needs to be said?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Nominees: Denis Arndt, Heisenberg; Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2; Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation; Kevin Kline, Present Laughter; Jefferson Mays, Oslo.

I liked Mays a lot, but Kevin Kline should win for perfectly portraying a self-obsessed comic actor.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Nominees: Cate Blanchett, The Present; Jennifer Ehle, Oslo; Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie; Laura Linney, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2.

A tough category: Arguments can be made for Field, Linney and, especially, Metcalf. But Field’s Amanda, a fading Southern belle, is most memorable and touches the heart.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Nominees: Christian Borle, Falsettos; Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical; David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!; Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen.

All deserved to be nominated, but Platt rises above the others for his incredible performance. One of the songs of the year is Evan Hansen’s soaring anthem, “Waving Through a Window,” which catapults the show into the stratosphere.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Nominees: Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Christine Ebersole, War Paint; Patti LuPone, War Paint; Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!; Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon.

Benton and Noblezada impress in their Broadway debuts. LuPone and Ebersole are legends, and almost make War Paint tolerable. But this award goes to Midler. She may not have the best voice, but she knows how to perform. For 2½ hours, lucky ticket holders can forget their troubles and have a great time.

Best Original Score

Nominees:Come From Away, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein; Dear Evan Hansen, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Groundhog Day The Musical, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, music and lyrics by Dave Malloy.

Give this one to Dear Evan Hansen, featuring the Oscar-winning team that wrote the lyrics for La La Land

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