With less than two weeks to go before the Tony Awards are handed out live June 7 on CBS, knuckles are white, fingernails are bitten, eyelids are twitching, feet are pacing, chat rooms are buzzing, Anna Wintour is doing whatever she does, and Ben Brantley, Charles Isherwood and Michael Riedel are telling you who’s going to win with soothsaying certainty. Alternatively, here’s the lowdown from this corner on who and what will win in the top fields.
BEST PLAY: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time will win because Marianne Elliott’s ingenious staging of the best-selling novel (about autism, no less) finds a kinetic way, visually and dramatically, to pull us into a story about words, in a production that layers surprise upon surprise, with emotion generously building to its memorable conclusion. And it’s British. Disgraced will win because it has the imprimatur of a Pulitzer Prize, it will be be huge in secondary markets, and playwright Ayad Akhtar has continued to write extraordinary plays that deal with discomfiting truths about issues IRL. Hand To God will win because the trangressive satire, rapid-fire humor, puppet sex and twisted plot belie its serious intent, which — in the tradition of Moliere, Shaw and Jon Stewart — is to pull hypocrisy’s pants down. Wolf Hall Parts One & Two will win because it satisfies the desire for epic work on Broadway that a) gives you your money’s worth, b) imbues history with a sexy frisson (a la Amadeus), and c) makes you feel smart without taxing your brain too much. And it’s British.
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY: The Elephant Man will win because just as American Sniper was tearing the roof off movie theaters, Bradley Cooper gave his all to the title role, in one of Broadway’s smallest theaters, just because he’d been wanting to do it ever since seeing the 1980 John Hurt movie. And while playing one of the theater’s most deformed leading characters since Richard III, he still looked fabulous. Skylight will win because David Hare’s intensely romantic drama of class and power has only improved since the original 1996 production, while Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan have made roles created by Michael Gambon and Lia Williams entirely their own. This Is Our Youth will win because it confirmed Kenneth Lonergan’s almost-coming-of-age play, also from 1996, as a contemporary keeper. You Can’t Take It With You will win because Annaleigh Ashford is nuts and went a long way (with a consistently pleasing cast) to demonstrate the staying power of bohemians, in general and a 1936 comedy about them, in particular.
BEST MUSICAL: An American In Paris will win because adorable dancers Robert Fairchild and Leann Cope dance the bejeezus out of Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography, and Bob Crowley’s design, a dazzling hommage to the 1951 Oscar-winning film, makes it a fine romance. Fun Home will win because the incomparable score by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron tells a story of suicide and sexual coming-of-age with wit, compassion and a sense of delight. Something Rotten! will win because it is fun! fun! fun! and when was the last time you got your money’s worth of that at a Broadway show? The Visit will win because John Kander and the late Fred Ebb turned a bleak post-WWII allegory into a commanding chamber musical and, as with The Scottsboro Boys, never stopped reimagining the possibilities of musical theater. Oh, and Chita Rivera is in it.
BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: The King And I will win because — oh, for God’s sakes, because it’s The King And I. On The Town will win because it reminded us all of where the real “New York, New York” came from (no offense, John and Fred). And quixotic producers Howard and Janet Kagan went for broke in a production that put the Leonard Bernstein-Betty Comden-Adolph Green score exuberantly front-and-center. On The Twentieth Century will win because it delivers a smokehouse full of ham, with Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher on the top display shelf, in another show crackling with Comden & Green wit.
So there you have it, with just two caveats: Possibly not all of these predictions will prove to be correct. And I don’t necessarily endorse all of these opinions.