Best Musical: "The Band’s Visit"
In a category otherwise populated by young-adult and child favorites (“Mean Girls,” “Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical,” and “Frozen”), “The Band’s Visit” is the obvious pick for Best Musical. The show follows an Egyptian band stuck in a small Israeli town for a night as they wait to catch the bus to their next performance. The show was a favorite with critics for its intimacy and powerful performances and is the category’s lone dramatic contender. Unless the Tony voters are registered in Bikini Bottom, “The Band’s Visit” is the clear favorite to take home the top prize at the Tonys.
Best Play: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
If the never-ending saga of books and movies has you avoiding any mention of the words “magic,” “wizard,” or “Hogwarts,” feel free to skip to the next category because John Tiffany’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a shoe-in to take the prize for Best Play. Critically acclaimed and grossing around $2 million in the first two days of its release, the two-part dramatic epilogue to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” benefits from standout performances from actors Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy) and Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), as well as Tiffany’s masterful creation of a world of magic onstage. Quality of plot and performance aside, the show’s $68.5 million budget—the biggest for a play in the history of Broadway—certainly doesn’t hurt its chances for success.
Best Revival of a Musical: "Once on This Island"
The Michael Arden helmed revival of “Once on This Island,” equal parts whimsy and tragedy, brings the French Antilles to life on the Broadway stage. A stellar cast, beautiful visual effects, and an enchanting, Caribbean-inspired score set this musical fable apart from peers “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady” in the race for this category. Hailey Kilgore’s Broadway debut as Ti Moune is dazzling and accompanied by standout performances by Broadway-favorite Lea Salonga (Erzuli), “Glee” actor Alex Newell (Asaka), and so many more. If Asaka (Mother of the Earth) has anything to say about it, this stellar cast won’t be disappointed come Tony night.
Best Revival of a Play: "Angels in America"
A well-done production of “Angels in America” anywhere is a gem, but a revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-Prize winning epic on Broadway starring Andrew Garfield (Prior Walter) and Nathan Lane (Roy Cohn) is something otherwordly. A National Theater transplant directed by Marianne Elliot, the “Angels” revival takes an oft-produced, critically-acclaimed play and builds something completely unique out of it. The scenic design, courtesy of Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce, is alternatingly fantastic and scaled-back, but doesn’t steal focus from its array of career-defining performances. Spectacularly acted, directed, scored, and designed, it’s hard to picture a reality where “Angels in America” doesn’t take home a deserved Tony for Best Revival of a Play in June.
Best Leading Actor in a Play: Andrew Garfield, "Angels in America"
Andrew Garfield has been nominated for Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globe Awards for his work in film, but no previous performance (no, not even his stint as Spider-Man) compares to his portrayal of Prior Walter in “Angels in America.” Garfield is practically unrecognizable, immersing himself in the role of Prior, a gay man struggling to preserve both his relationship and his sanity after being diagnosed with AIDs and having visions of spirits. The humor, personality, and heart-wrenching emotion Garfield exudes as Prior throughout the two full-length performances that comprise the play is a miraculous feat. He called the role the “privilege of his life,” and Tony voters are almost certain to agree.
Best Featured Actress in a Play: Denise Gough, "Angels in America"
I promise this will be the last you hear about “Angels in America”—at least until the telecast itself. Less talked about than co-stars Lane and Garfield but equally deserving of praise is Denise Gough’s stunning performance as Harper Pitt, a valium-popping, agoraphobic, Mormon housewife. Gough emotionally grounds Harper without sacrificing her head-in-the-clouds spaciness and, as the play intensifies, gives a masterclass in breaking down onstage without a second of it feeling like “acting.” Her performance can evoke both laughs and shivers in the same monologue and is bound to garner some love in the form of a small silver statue.
Best Direction of a Musical: Michael Arden, "Once on This Island"
Snubbed by the Tonys in 2016 for Best Director of a Musical for Deaf West’s revival of “Spring Awakening,” Michael Arden is due for some awards love. The 35-year old actor-turned-director may have lost out to “Hamilton” before, but his direction of “Once on This Island” is a standout in this year’s category. He brings an upbeat and enchanting feel to a lovely but tragic fable, making for a captivating experience (even when it’s time to learn the lesson).
Best Book of a Musical: Tina Fey, "Mean Girls"
We all love Tina Fey. We all love “Mean Girls.” Tina Fey brought “Mean Girls” to Broadway. Outside of personal (and generational?) bias, Fey’s laugh-out-loud book is the most celebrated part of the new musical.Who doesn’t want to see the beloved comedian deliver what is bound to be an entertaining acceptance speech for Best Book of a Musical? The Tony voters certainly will.
—Staff Writer Allison J. Scharmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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