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Tony Awards 2017 Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win – From ‘Oslo’ to ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Kevin Spacey will host this Sunday’s show celebrating the best of Broadway

The Tony Awards and its most ardent followers tend to view a great Broadway season as one in which there’s a runaway hit that consumes all the media attention and takes most of the awards.

In recent years, think “The Book of Mormon,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” and, of course, last year’s blockbuster “Hamilton.”

The 2016-17 Broadway season is not that kind of season. This year won’t see any clear winners, because the competition is too strong, the pool of talent too deep.

Best Play

That wonderful predicament is most obvious in the best play category — where J.T. Rogers’s “Oslo” is expected to win but Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” should. Frankly, who can argue much about either work taking the top prize? Together with the other two nominees, Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” and Paul Vogel’s “Indecent,” it was the best season in memory for new plays.

Best Revival of a Play

Expect the casting stunt of Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon to give “The Little Foxes” the advantage over “Jitney.”

Best Musical

On the musical side of the Tonys, the enormous hoopla in the press for “Come From Away” could dislodge the deserved winner, “Dear Evan Hansen,” but probably won’t.

Best Musical Revival

The year’s two shoo-ins are best revival of a musical, “Hello, Dolly!,” and lead actress in a musical, Bette Midler in “Dolly.”

doll's house part 2 laurie metcalf

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

Best Director of a Play

The “Oslo” and “Doll’s House” contest continues with its directors, Bartlett Sher and Sam Gold, respectively. Sher will win, but Gold deserves to, not only for “Doll’s House” but for “A Glass Menagerie,” which was shamefully not nominated for best revival of a play.

Best Director of a Musical

My inside sources again insist that Michael Greif will win for directing “Dear Evan Hansen,” but going out on a limb here, I think the Tony should and will go to Rachel Chavkin for “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.” Her dazzling direction is the whole show.

Best Actress in a Play

Laurie Metcalf in “Doll’s House” is expected to win, but Sally Field in “Menagerie” and Linney are equally deserving.

Best Actor in a Play

Kevin Kline in “Present Laughter” will win for best actor in a play. For me, the best performance by a male actor came from the non-nominated Richard Roxburgh for his powerful portrayal of a narcissist opposite Cate Blanchett in “The Present.” Roxburgh had the added challenge of appearing to be great in a not very good play.

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Nathan Lane had something of the same problem, not that “The Front Page” isn’t worth staging. The recent revival was simply embalmed, except for Lane’s performance, which was nominated and should win. This bona fide star appears on Broadway almost every season, and the Tony nominators and voters tend to prefer less frequent exposure. My friends in the biz assure me that Danny DeVito will win for his Broadway debut in “The Price,” but I’m thinking it could be another Tom Hanks-like upset, but in the category of best featured actor in a play.

Best Featured Actress in a Play

On the distaff side, Cynthia Nixon in “Foxes” should and will win for best featured actress in a play.

hello dolly bette midler

Best Actress in a Musical

Bette Midler is a shoo-in to win for “Hello, Dolly!” but I’d prefer to see a tie win for Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole in “War Paint.” Call me old-fashioned, but I like a musical comedy performer to be able to sing her role at least adequately.

Best Actor in a Musical

Andy Karl should and might win for his tough lead actor performance in “Groundhog Day,” but the Tony Award will likely honor Ben Platt’s teary turn in “Hansen.”

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Gavin Creel in “Dolly!” is likely to win for best featured actor in a musical, although nothing compares to Mike Faist’s understated, charismatic suicide in “Hansen.”

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

And among the featured actresses, Mary Beth Peil in “Anastasia” has a slight edge. Incomprehensible is why Tony didn’t nominate the best performance in this category, Amber Gray’s wickedly seductive Helene in “Great Comet.”

Best Book of a Musical

“Dear Evan Hansen” book writer Steven Levenson also looks and deserves to win. (The Off Broadway luster of his great new play “If I Forget” helps.)

Best Score

Also expected to win is the “Hansen” score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. (Their “La La Land” Oscar helps.) I prefer Tim Minchin’s much edgier songs for “Groundhog Day,” which doesn’t have a prayer in this or any other category, except for Andy Karl’s lead performance.

Last year, in the above categories, I picked the winners, with one exception: I thought Joe Mantello would win for directing “The Humans,” and the award instead went to Ivo van Hove for staging the revival of “A View From the Bridge.”

Among all the following categories, I got only one right last year. This time out I’m going to go with whom I think should win and leave it at that:

Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand” (choreography); David Zinn, “Doll’s House” (costumes for a play); Paloma Young, “Great Comet” (costumes for a musical); Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent” (lighting for a play); Bradley King, “Great Comet” (lighting for a musical); Alex Lacamoire, “Hansen” (orchestrations); Michael Yeargan, “Oslo” (scenic design for a play); and Mimi Lien, “Great Comet” (scenic design for a musical), although hands down the most innovative scenic design for a musical was David Rockwell’s ever-changing cyclorama and modular set for “Falsettos,” which was not nominated.

CBS airs the Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall on June 11.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap's lead theater critic, has worked as an editor at Life, Us Weekly and Variety. His books include "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson," "Party Animals," and "Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange, How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos." His latest book, "Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne," is now in paperback.