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Tony Awards 2011: We predict the winners

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Bookofmormon Warhorse Split
Joan Marcus (top), Paul Kolnik

Here’s the easiest prediction we can make about this year’s Tony Awards, which will be presented June 12 at NYC’s Beacon Theatre: Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark will be a recurring punchline for returning host Neil Patrick Harris. The CBS broadcast will also manage to include a number from this still-to-officially-open show, featuring composers Bono and the Edge as well as on-stage Spidey Reeve Carney. Predicting the actual awards isn’t nearly as easy. But in a lot of the major categories, there seem to be some very strong front-runners. Expect The Book of Mormon (pictured left, top) to sweep most of the musical categories, and the British import War Horse (pictured left, bottom) to pick up a fair share of the dramatic awards. Fellow EW critic Melissa Rose Bernardo and I here offer our predictions in all the Tony categories (you’ll see our names after each of our picks). Disagree? Please let us know who you think will win — or should win — in the comments section. (For more Stage coverage, go to EW.com’s Stage hub.)

Best Musical

The Book of Mormon (Melissa, Thom)

Catch Me if You Can

The Scottsboro Boys

Sister Act

The irreverent hit from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker is a sure thing.

Best Play

Good People (Melissa)

Jerusalem

The Motherf—er With the Hat

War Horse (Thom)

There’s a bit of a horse race in this category, with the equine drama War Horse considered the front-runner for its impressive physical production (if not its rather conventional plotting and dialogue). But some voters seem to be rallying around the smart American scripts of David Lindsay Abaire’s Good People and Stephen Adly Guigis’ The Motherf—er With the Hat. If there’s an upset, look for Good People to win by a nose.

Best Revival of a Musical

Anything Goes (Melissa, Thom)

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Revival of a Play

Arcadia

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Merchant of Venice

The Normal Heart (Melissa, Thom)

Larry Kramer’s AIDS-era drama should dominate, though Earnest could sneak by.

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

Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest

Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf—er With the Hat

Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart

Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice

Mark Rylance, Jerusalem (Melissa, Thom)

Mark Rylance, a Tony winner in 2008 for the comedy Boeing-Boeing, also earned raves this season for his role as a foppish idiot in La Bête opposite David Hyde Pierce. He is memorably menacing in the British drama Jerusalem.

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

Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday (Melissa)

Frances McDormand, Good People (Thom)

Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice

Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy

Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Nina Arianda has won raves for her Broadway debut, but Frances McDormand should pick up her first Tony for her moving performance in Good People.

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

Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can (Melissa)

Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys

Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon

Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

This may be the most competitive race this year. Norbert Leo Butz is beloved, but his role is relatively small for a lead. Joshua Henry delivered the best performance, but his show has closed. Tony Sheldon has won over a lot of critics and Tony voters in recent weeks (though I personally found his turn a bit thin and cloying). And the chief Mormon missionaries may split the vote, though I give Josh Gad the edge since his character is a bit showier.

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

Sutton Foster, Anything Goes (Melissa, Thom)

Beth Leavel, Baby It’s You!

Patina Miller, Sister Act

Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Sutton Foster, a Tony winner for 2002’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, is a safe bet here, though there’s a good deal of esteem for Patina Miller’s turn in the Whoopi Goldberg role in Sister Act.

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

Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem

Billy Crudup, Arcadia

John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart (Melissa, Thom)

Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Yul Vázquez, The Motherf—er With the Hat

Hickey delivers a powerful performance as the AIDS-infected boyfriend of the lead character in The Normal Heart. Potential upset: Yul Vázquez, as the not-completely butch cousin in that comedy with the unprintable title.

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

Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart (Melissa)

Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves (Thom)

Judith Light, Lombardi

Joanna Lumley, La Bête

Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf—er With the Hat

Ellen Barkin has gotten most of the limelight, but I found her performance a bit too shrill. I’m going with Edie Falco in the role that won Swoozie Kurtz a Tony in 1986.

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

Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys

Adam Godley, Anything Goes

John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys

Rory O’Malley, The Book of Mormon (Melissa, Thom)

Expect another Mormon triumph here, though John Laroquette has his admirers.

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

Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Melissa)

Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Victoria Clark, Sister Act

Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Laura Benanti was the best thing about the short-lived Women on the Verge, but I’m looking at a Mormon sweep.

Best Direction of a Play

Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse (Melissa, Thom)

Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart

Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf—er With the Hat

Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice

It may not be the best-written play in the field, but it’s easily the most impressive production.

Best Direction of a Musical

Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes

Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon (Melissa, Thom)

Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Not even close.

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes (Melissa, Thom)

Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon

Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

A competitive race since there was a lot of great dance this year, but the tap-tastic first-act finale of Anything Goes gives Kathleen Marshall the edge.

Best Book of a Musical

Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon (Melissa, Thom)

David Thompson, The Scottsboro Boys

Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane, Sister Act

Best Original Score Written for the Theater

Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon (Melissa)

John Kander and Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys (Thom)

Alan Menken (music) and Glenn Slater (lyrics), Sister Act

David Yazbek, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

The Mormon team is likely to win, unless there’s a sentimental vote for the final collaboration of the legendary Kander and Ebb.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf—er With the Hat

Rae Smith, War Horse (Melissa, Thom)

Ultz, Jerusalem

Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice

War Horse will win for the life-size horse puppets alone.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys

Derek McLane, Anything Goes

Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Melissa)

The short-lived Andrew Jackson‘s set was bloody impressive (including a seeming horse carcass hanging over the audience), but I suspect voters will reward the year’s biggest current hit.

Best Costume Design of a Play


Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice


Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest (Thom)

Mark Thompson, La Bête


Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday (Melissa)

Best Costume Design of a Musical


Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Melissa, Thom)

Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes


Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon

Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won an Oscar for their work on the film version of Priscilla (where Gardiner memorably wore a dress made of American Express gold cards); expect another trip to the podium for the duo for their witty, eye-catching work.

Best Lighting Design of a Play


Paule Constable, War Horse (Melissa, Thom)

David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice

Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

War Horse should continue its sweep of technical categories.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys (Melissa)

Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying


Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes


Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Best Sound Design of a Play

Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Simon Baker, Brief Encounter (Melissa)

Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem

Christopher Shutt, War Horse (Thom)

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys (Melissa)

Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can

Brian Ronan, Anything Goes


Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Best Orchestrations

Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys (Melissa)

Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon (Thom)

Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can

One thing’s for certain: Larry Hochman will pick up his first-ever Tony, either for the juggernaut Book of Mormon or for the sentimental favorite The Scottsboro Boys.

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