Over 300 movies are eligible to be nominated for an Oscar each year. Only about 40 Broadway shows are typically eligible to be nominated for a Tony. No matter, five nominees often fill each Tony Awards category, and don’t be surprised if they go up to six in some categories when the nominees for the 2018-19 Broadway season are announced this Tuesday.
The most likely category to be expanded is best actor in a play. Expect the following nominees: Paddy Considine (“The Ferryman”), Bryan Cranston (“Network”), Jeff Daniels (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), Adam Driver (“Burn This”) and Tracy Letts (“All My Sons”). Ethan Hawke (“True West”) should be among the five. Maybe he’ll make it if there are six, although Jonny Lee Miller (“Ink”) will give him competition since his play is still on the boards. More deserving is Nathan Lane (“Gary”), but he’s often taken for granted by the nominators despite (or because of ) the three Tonys already on his mantel.
Best play is another category that might expand. Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman,” Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” Taylor Mac’s “Gary,” Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” and Aaron Sorkin’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” look likely to be nominated. I’d knock out a couple of those to make room for Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy” and Theresa Rebeck’s “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” but those plays suffer the disadvantage of having closed. And don’t be surprised if the Anglophiles, of which they are many, nominate James Graham’s pretentious Rupert Murdoch drama “Ink.”
Last year’s shuttering of the Rebeck play might also cost Janet McTeer a deserved nomination for her portrayal of the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Otherwise, expect the following to be nominated for best actress in a play: Annette Bening (“All My Sons”), Glenda Jackson (“King Lear”), Elaine May (“The Waverly Gallery”), Laurie Metcalf (“Hillary and Clinton”) and Heidi Schreck (“What the Constitution Means to Me”), who plays herself.
Best Musical should see the usual four nominees. They’ll likely be “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Hadestown,” “The Prom” and “Tootsie” — though the youth-skewing hit “Be More Chill” has its fan base (and a Drama Desk nomination).
It would be fun to see the nominators send up this season’s new musicals by nominating Adam Cork (“Ink”), Danny Elfman (“Gary”), Philip Glass (“King Lear”), Adam Guettel (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) and Nick Powell (“The Ferryman”). Of course, all of those composers wrote underscores for dramas, not musicals. In the end, Glass and Guettel might make the cut along with Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar (“The Prom”), Anais Mitchell (“Hadestown”) and David Yazbek (“Tootsie”).
The nominees for best director of a play will be slightly different this year: Most will have directed new plays, not revivals. Usually, it’s the other way around. Several new plays feature very flashy handling of big sets and big casts, and for the Tony nominators that spells “direction!” Expect Rupert Goold (“Ink”), Sam Mendes (“The Ferryman”), Bartlett Sher (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), George C. Wolfe (“Gary”) and Ivo van Hove (“Network”). Again, I’d knock out two of those to cite the more subtle work of Joe Mantello (“Hillary and Clinton”) and Lila Neugebauer (“The Waverly Gallery”), who otherwise might be unjustly overlooked.
There’s less suspense in some of the other categories.
Best actress in a musical: Stephanie J. Block (“The Cher Show”), Rebecca Naomi Jones (“Oklahoma!”), Beth Leavel (“The Prom”), Kelli O’Hara (“Kiss Me, Kate”) and Eva Noblezada (“Hadestown”).
Best actor in a musical: Brooks Ashmanskas (“The Prom”), Alex Brightman (“Beetlejuice”), Will Chase (“Kiss Me, Kate”), Damon Daunno (“Oklahoma!”), and Santino Fontana (“Tootsie”).
Best director of a musical: Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”), Scott Ellis (“Kiss Me, Kate” and/or “Tootsie”), Daniel Fish (“Oklahoma!”), Des McAnuff (“Ain’t Too Proud”), and Casey Nicholaw (“The Prom”).
Best revival of a musical: “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Oklahoma!” No others opened this season.
Best revival of a play: “All My Sons,” “Torch Song,” “True West” and “The Waverly Gallery.” “The Boys in the Band” deserves to be on the list, but it’s super-early opening (and closing) in the season will probably doom those chances.
Best book for a musical: Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin (“The Prom”), Robert Horn (“Tootsie”), Anais Mitchell (“Hadestown”), and Dominique Morisseau (“Ain’t Too Proud”) — though Scott Brown and Anthony King’s “Beetlejuice” script could also sneak in.
The Tony nominators adore the kind of big, broad, flashy performances (usually British) that often spell “Broadway,” and not in a good way.
Here are my personal favorite featured performers. Starting at the very beginning of the 2018-19 Broadway season and going forward, they are Matt Bomer (“The Boys in the Band”), Paul Schneider (“Straight White Men”), Joan Allen and David Cromer (“The Waverly Gallery”), Alexandra Billings and John Ellison Conlee (“The Nap”), Eugene Lee (“American Son”), J. Quinton Johnson (“Choir Boy”), David Furr (“Burn This”) and Julie White (“Gary”) on the drama side.
And for featured musical performers, I adored the work of Andrew Durand and Bonnie Milligan (“Head Over Heels”), Angie Schworer (“The Prom”), J Michaela Diamond (“The Cher Show”), Jeremy Pope and Ephraim Sykes (“Ain’t Too Proud”), James Davis and Ali Stoker (“Oklahoma!”), Amber Gray (“Hadestown”) and Andy Grotelueschen (“Tootsie”) .
That said, I’d be shocked if the nominators don’t go for Bertie Carvel (“Ink”), Mercedes Ruehl (“Torch Song”) and a few cast members from “The Ferryman” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
To each his or her own.