On the eve of this year’s nominations announcement for the 2016 Tony Awards (the 70th annual!), much of the conversation has been devoted to the Hamilton juggernaut that’ll no doubt dominate the telecast. Still, the season boasts a breathtaking array of new musical and play entries that ought to get their deserved due at this year’s ceremony, hosted by James Corden and airing June 12 on CBS).
Here are five things to keep an eye out for when this year’s nominees are decreed at 8:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning.
1. Hamilton will go hard.
And there’s a million awards he hasn’t won, but just you wait. It’s one of the safest bets in Broadway history that Hamilton and its team of revolutionary rebels will dominate the nomination list across all categories. The Lin-Manuel Miracle stands to break the 15-nom and 12-win record held by 2001’s The Producers (and matched in 2009 by Billy Elliot, although only in nominations, not wins). In addition to Best Musical and eight other creative awards, Hamilton should net at least five acting nods (for Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Philippa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Daveed Diggs), with, dare we suggest, a possible sixth, seventh, or eighth acting slot for Christopher Jackson’s George Washington, Jonathon Groff’s King George, and Jasmine Cephas Jones’s And Peggy.
2. A real race for the revivalists.
On the opposite end of the court from the Hamilton slam dunk, there’s an honest-to-God heated race going on in the Best Revival of a Musical category — a usually written-off sphere of the awards, at least in excitement. (These shows typically close within a season or two, but a Tony keeps it alive on the road.) This year, there’s equal buzz behind the season’s four biggest musical revivals: The Color Purple, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening, and Fiddler on the Roof. All four earned rave reviews, and the Tonys could swing any which way, although the heat of the race is most scorching between Color Purple (which will, at the very least, score a win with Best Actress for Cynthia Erivo) and She Loves Me (which offers a hearty dose of old-school musical theater tradition that has been missing from virtually every other production this season, and could be rewarded for doing so).
Forget #OscarSoWhite — given all the outcry over the Academy Awards, it’s a breath of fresh air that the Tony Awards won’t fall victim to the same lack of diversity among its roster of nominees. In fact, early frontrunner prognostication suggests the Tonys will make history this year when a non-white performer wins in every major musical category (Erivo, Odom, Diggs, and Goldsberry). This year — and every year — for real representation in art, look to the New York stage.
4. March of the marquee stars
Celebrity victories are never a sure thing at the Tonys — just ask Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks — but you’ll find them this year in the leading actors and actresses in plays. Actresses will likely include Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed, Jessica Lange in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Michelle Williams in Blackbird (overlooked in 2014 for her debut in Cabaret), and Laurie Metcalf in Misery. (Keira Knightley could also wedge her way in here at the expense of Cicely Tyson.) For the men, look to The Crucible star Ben Whishaw to lead the race opposite Mark Strong (in A View From the Bridge), Jeff Daniels (Blackbird), and comedic late-entrant Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Fully Committed).
5. The breakfast snub
On Tony nomination morning, some new musicals will earn their keep with the big mention — Shuffle Along, School of Rock, and Waitress will all join Hamilton in the Best Musical battle — but there’s a high chance that other new shows will earn just one nod or be shut out completely. Bright Star should stand out from the crowd with a nomination for leading lady Carmen Cusack and composers Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; the divisive American Psycho, on the other hand, has its best shot in leading actor (Benjamin Walker) and some design coups. On Your Feet! and Allegiance could bet on leads Ana Villafane and George Takei, respectively, to represent them, but not much else will guarantee inclusion in the race; the same fate is true of Tuck Everlasting and the already-shuttered Disaster! (closing July 3).