By Thom Geier
Updated June 02, 2010 at 01:05 PM EDT

Image Credit: Johan Persson; Moniqure CarboniHere’s the easiest prediction to make about this year’s Tony Awards, which will be presented June 13 at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall: Host Sean Hayes will almost certainly make some reference to the hullabaloo about being too gay to play a straight man in the musical Promises, Promises. The CBS broadcast will also have an excuse to present a production number from his show even though it didn’t snag a nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. (There’s talk that the show will open with a medley of “pop songs you might not know are on Broadway.”) As for the major awards categories, the choices are not quite as easy to predict. Red (pictured at left, top) is clearly the front-runner in the new play category, but the new musical race is a highly competitive one: Fela! (pictured, bottom), American Idiot, Memphis, and Million Dollar Quartet each have a legitimate shot at the trophy. Fellow EW critic Melissa Rose Bernardo and I are daring to head out center stage to 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’s Stage hub.)

Best Play

In the Next Room or the vibrator play, by Sarah Ruhl

Next Fall, by Geoffrey Nauffts

Red, by John Logan (Melissa, Thom)

Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies

John Logan’s two-man show about artist Mark Rothko is the clear favorite.

Best Musical

American Idiot

Fela! (Thom)

Memphis (Melissa)

Million Dollar Quartet

My favorite of this bunch is American Idiot, but the critical reception (and the box office) have been decidedly muted. In recent weeks, Fela! producer Jay-Z has been pulling out all the stops to woo votes — including bringing Beyoncé to some events — and that may be enough to garner a win over the stolid early-rock-era musical Memphis.

Best Revival of a Play

Fences (Melissa, Thom)

Lend Me a Tenor

The Royal Family

A View From the Bridge

The best-reviewed revival of the year is an absolute lock here.

Best Revival of a Musical

Finian’s Rainbow

La Cage aux Folles (Melissa, Thom)

A Little Night Music


Another sure thing.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jude Law, Hamlet

Alfred Molina, Red (Melissa)

Liev Schreiber, A View From the Bridge

Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane

Denzel Washington, Fences (Thom)

It’s been a really strong year for leading men. Denzel Washington has gotten raves for his performance in Fences and would be a deserved winner — though Alfred Molina has been gathering some momentum for his mesmerizing turn as Mark Rothko in Red.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Viola Davis, Fences (Melissa, Thom)

Valerie Harper, Looped

Linda Lavin, Collected Stories

Laura Linney, Time Stands Still

Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family

A shoo-in.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles

Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises

Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles (Melissa, Thom)

Chad Kimball, Memphis

Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!

Brit actor Douglas Hodge gives a show-stopping turn in a very showy role.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow

Montego Glover, Memphis (Thom)

Christiane Noll, Ragtime

Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture

Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music (Melissa)

It’s a battle between the celeb and the newcomer, and I give the slight edge to the ingenue.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

David Alan Grier, Race

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences (Melissa)

Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts

Stephen Kunken, Enron

Eddie Redmayne, Red (Thom)

Eddie Redmayne won the Olivier Award earlier this year for his supporting role in Red; he should repeat here — unless the remarkable Stephen McKinley Henderson sneaks in for his turn as the colleague/buddy in Fences.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the vibrator play

Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family

Jessica Hecht, A View From the Bridge

Scarlett Johansson, A View From the Bridge

Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor (Melissa, Thom)

Yes, Jan Maxwell also garnered a lead-actress nomination for the long-closed comedy revival Royal Family. She steals the show in Lend Me a Tenor as the daffy, possessive wife of an Italian tenor, and she’ll steal the Tony too.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family

Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles (Thom)

Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow

Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet (Melissa)

Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

It’s a battle of the scene-stealers: Robin De Jesús as a very fey butler/maid vs. Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim

Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises (Melissa, Thom)

Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music

Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away

Lillias White, Fela!

I suspect the two beloved theater icons — Angela Lansbury and Barbara Cook — may cancel each other out, allowing the mesmerizing Katie Finneran to emerge victorious.

Best Direction of a Play

Michael Grandage, Red

Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall

Kenny Leon, Fences (Melissa, Thom)

Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge

Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, Memphis

Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime

Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles (Thom)

Bill T. Jones, Fela! (Melissa)

Best Scenic Design of a Play

John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family

Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter

Santo Loquasto, Fences

Christopher Oram, Red (Melissa, Thom)

If you manage to re-create masterpiece paintings, you deserve the Tony.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Marina Draghici, Fela!

Christine Jones, American Idiot (Melissa, Thom)

Derek McLane, Ragtime

Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Play

Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor

Constanza Romero, Fences

David Zinn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play (Melissa, Thom)

Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Marina Draghici, Fela!

Paul Tazewell, Memphis

Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles (Melissa, Thom)

Santo Loquasto’s costumes for the Ragtime revival were declared ineligible after he picked up a nomination; he had designed the costumes for the original production.

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Hamlet

Neil Austin, Red (Melissa, Thom)

Mark Henderson, Enron

Brian MacDevitt, Fences

Neil Austin’s work was remarkable in both Hamlet and Red, but the lighting for the latter even makes a pointed contribution to the story itself. (At one point, we see what Rothko’s paintings would look like under institutional fluorescent lighting — and the magic of them dissipates before our eyes.)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, American Idiot (Melissa)

Donald Holder, Ragtime

Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles

Robert Wierzel, Fela! (Thom)

Best Sound Design of a Play

Acme Sound Partners, Fences (Melissa)

Adam Cork, Enron

Adam Cork, Red (Thom)

Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge

The sound design in the short-lived Enron is impressive, but no one saw it. And while Branford Marsalis’ score is used to great effect in Fences, I opt for Red and its clever use of a record player — and a memorable scene involving a blank canvas, paint, two brushes, and a Gluck aria.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles

Robert Kaplowitz, Fela! (Thom)

Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music

Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim (Melissa)

Best Book of a Musical

Everyday Rapture (Melissa)


Memphis (Thom)

Million Dollar Quartet

Memphis has the only traditional book of the bunch, though Sherie Rene Scott’s extended monologue in Everyday Rapture is utterly charming.

Best Original Score

The Addams Family


Fences (Thom)

Memphis (Melissa)

In a season dominated by jukebox musicals, this is a decidedly weak category. Witness that two non-musicals snagged nominations. In fact, I give the edge to Branford Marsalis’ jazzy score for the August Wilson revival Fences, though Memphis is a clear favorite.

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises

Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles (Melissa)

Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away (Thom)

Best Orchestrations

Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles

Aaron Johnson, Fela! (Melissa)

Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises

Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis (Thom)