Lucky Guy Tom Hanks
Credit: Joan Marcus

Despite a Broadway season that saw a 6-percent dip in attendance, theater fans still have cause for celebration at this Sunday's Tony Awards. There's a  contest heating up for Best Musical, pitting the "revolting" children of Matilda against the fabulous drag queens of Kinky Boots.

And there's some real suspense in other major categories: Will two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (above) add a Tony to his mantel for his Broadway debut in Lucky Guy? Will former Who's the Boss star Judith Light win back-to-back Tonys in Best Featured Actress in a Play? EW critics Melissa Rose Bernardo and Thom Geier offer their predictions of who will be step-step-kicking to the podium at Radio City Music Hall this Sunday. (By the way, we'll also be live-blogging the ceremony, hosted for the fourth time by the Energizer bunny of awards-show hosts, Neil Patrick Harris.) Disagree with our picks? Please let us know who you think will win — or should win — in the comments section.

Best Play

The Testament of Mary

It's rare for a comedy to take the top prize, but the much-liked Christopher Durang's hilarious reworking of Chekhov is the solid front-runner.

Best Musical

Bring It On: The Musical

A Christmas Story, The Musical

*Matilda The Musical (Melissa, Thom)

This is a two-way race between Kinky Boots and Matilda, but Matthew Warchus' inventive staging gives this hit adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book the edge (and the edginess).

Best Revival of a Play

Golden Boy


The Trip to Bountiful

*Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Melissa, Thom)

Though it closed in March, director Pam MacKinnon's Steppenwolf-bred production of Edward Albee's classic left an indelible impression. Long-shot spoiler: the star-studded The Trip to Bountiful.

Best Revival of a Musical

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

*Pippin (Melissa, Thom)

Director Diane Paulus' circus-inspired reworking of the 1972 perennial should be justly rewarded.

Best Book of a Musical

Joseph Robinette, A Christmas Story, The Musical

Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots

*Dennis Kelly, Matilda The Musical (Melissa, Thom)

Douglas Carter Beane, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Dennis Kelly is the clear front-runner here.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, A Christmas Story, The Musical

Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, Hands on a Hardbody

*Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots (Thom)

*Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical (Melissa)

This is a close contest between two Broadway newcomers, but Cyndi Lauper could sneak past the Matilda juggernaut for her surprisingly accomplished pop score.

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

*Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy (Melissa, Thom)

Nathan Lane, The Nance

Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Nathan Lane and David Hyde Pierce have their fans, but they also both have Tonys sitting at home. Tom Hanks not only brings star quality to his Broadway debut, he bolsters a somewhat undercooked script by the late Nora Ephron.

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

Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place

Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

*Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Melissa)

Holland Taylor, Ann

*Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful (Thom)

The eightysomething Cicely Tyson is the sentimental favorite here, delivering an amazingly spry performance in Horton Foote's Texas-set drama. But look out for the scene-stealing Kristine Nielsen, who even swiped a nomination out of the hands of her better-known costar Sigourney Weaver.

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

Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical

Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Rob McClure, Chaplin

*Billy Porter, Kinky Boots (Melissa, Thom)

Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Broadway loves its drag queens, and Billy Porter's dominates Kinky Boots. If there's an upset, look out for Bertie Carvel for his cross-dressing turn as the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Matilda.

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

Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Carolee Carmello, Scandalous

Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical

*Patina Miller, Pippin (Thom)

*Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Melissa)

Former reality-show contestant Laura Osnes pulls off the tricky title role in Cinderella without making the heroine seem like a goody-two-glass-slippers. But Patina Miller really shines as Pippin's Lead Player, a role originated by a man (Tony winner Ben Vereen). Consider this one a toss-up.

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

*Danny Burstein, Golden Boy (Melissa)

*Richard Kind, The Big Knife (Thom)

Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy

Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

This is a wide-open race, with everyone but the ab-tastic Billy Magnussen having a legitimate shot at the prize. Danny Burstein delivered a memorable performance as the trainer to a young boxer in the long-closed revival Golden Boy (though former Monk star Tony Shalhoub, as the boxer's Italian immigrant dad, has many fans too). But Richard Kind dominates The Big Knife as a ruthless studio boss in golden-era Hollywood.

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

Carrie Coon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

*Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Melissa)

Judith Ivey, The Heiress

*Judith Light, The Assembled Parties (Thom)

Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Shalita Grant has won raves as a housekeeper with a mystical side. But the front-runner here is Judith Light, who would pick up her second consecutive award in this category (after last year's Other Desert Cities).

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

Charl Brown, Motown The Musical

Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody

Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

*Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical (Melissa, Thom)

Terrence Mann, Pippin

Gabriel Ebert is a standout as Matilda's pompous, pompadoured dad — though look out for Terrence Mann as the king in Pippin as a potential spoiler.

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

Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots

Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

*Andrea Martin, Pippin (Melissa, Thom)

Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody

Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

Former SCTV star Andrea Martin is a safe bet to win her second Tony for her memorable first-act solo routine as Pippin's high-flying grandma.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

*John Lee Beatty, The Nance (Melissa, Thom)

Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties

David Rockwell, Lucky Guy

Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy

John Lee Beatty would pick up his second career Tony for the exceedingly clever turnstile set for the vaudeville era-set drama The Nance.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

*Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical (Melissa, Thom)

Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Scott Pask, Pippin

David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Play

Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac

Ann Roth, The Nance

*Albert Wolsky, The Heiress (Melissa, Thom)

Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots

Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical

Dominique Lemieux, Pippin

*William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Melissa, Thom)

The real showstoppers in Cinderella are William Ivey Long's magical costumes, which transform from rags to couture before your eyes.

Best Lighting Design of a Play

*Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy (Thom)

*Donald Holder, Golden Boy (Melissa)

Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary

Japhy Weideman, The Nance

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots

Kenneth Posner, Pippin

Kenneth Posner, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical (Melissa, Thom)

Poor Kenneth Posner. Despite his three nominations, the prize is likely to go to Hugh Vanstone for Matilda.

Best Sound Design of a Play

John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful

Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary

*Leon Rothenberg, The Nance (Thom)

*Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy (Melissa)

Leon Rothenberg gets points for having to incorporate a live (backstage) band into the sound mix. But the team behind Golden Boy could sneak off with the award if audiences remember the long-shuttered revival.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

*Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, Pippin (Thom)

*Peter Hylenski, Motown The Musical (Melissa)

John Shivers, Kinky Boots

Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Motown's sound mix, blending lots of classic R&B hits, is absolutely first-rate — though Tony voters haven't given the hit production a lot of love. Deans and Helms' work for Pippin might be a safer choice.

Best Direction of a Play

Pam MacKinnon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

*Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Thom)

Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy

*George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy (Melissa)

George C. Wolfe does a remarkable job smoothing over some of the flaws in Nora Ephron's play, completed before her death last year. But the favorite here is probably Nicholas Martin for the screwball pacing he brings to Christopher Durang's comedy. Possible upset: Pam MacKinnon, for her justly acclaimed work on Virginia Woolf.

Best Direction of a Musical

Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots

*Diane Paulus, Pippin (Melissa)

*Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical (Thom)

This is a two-way race between two innovative directors. British director Matthew Warchus has received kudos for his work on Matilda, but the popular Diane Paulus could have the edge for her third successful re-imagining of a classic musical (following 2009's Hair and last year's Porgy and Bess).

Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical

Peter Darling, Matilda The Musical

Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots

*Chet Walker, Pippin (Melissa, Thom)

Chet Walker updates Bob Fosse's original dance moves with eye-popping circus acrobatics.

Best Orchestrations

*Chris Nightingale, Matilda The Musical (Thom)

Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots

*Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, Motown The Musical (Melissa)

Danny Troob, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomGeier

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