By Jessica Derschowitz
June 04, 2019 at 04:02 PM EDT
Matthew Murphy (3); Joan Marcus; Jan Versweyveld; Julieta Cervantes; Little Fang Photo

This year’s Tony nominees tell a tale of two (New York) cities: the huge, commercial productions commonly mounted these days on Broadway marquees (like Tootsie and Beetlejuice), and the influx of experimental, downtown-feeling pieces like Hadestown and What the Constitution Means to Me. The creative clash has led to a bustling season, with a whopping 10 musicals and 15 plays up for this year’s Broadway honors, which will be handed out Sunday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, with host James Corden.

For your consideration, here are our predictions in the major categories:

Best Musical

The Nominees:
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
Beetlejuice
Hadestown
The Prom
Tootsie

We left our hearts in Hadestown, an inventive retelling of ancient Greek myths — and Tony tastemakers agreed: It’s the most nominated show of the year, with a total tally of 14. It’s facing some big-name competition (particularly from Tootsie, with another potential spoiler in feel-good underdog The Prom), but we expect this year’s Best Musical crown will take the road to Hell.

Best Play

The Nominees:
Choir Boy
The Ferryman
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ink
What the Constitution Means to Me

When Tony nominations were announced on April 30, two of the biggest snubs were the omissions of Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Lee Hall’s Network in this category. This seems to leave the lane open for The Ferryman, Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed epic about a Northern Irish family and its secrets — but it’d be an exciting surprise if Heidi Schreck’s extremely personal and politically timely What the Constitution Means to Me pulls off an upset.

Best Revival of a Musical

The Nominees:
Kiss Me, Kate

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

There were only two musical revivals eligible this year — the refreshed Cole Porter classic starring a fierce Kelli O’Hara, and Daniel Fish’s stripped-down, “sexy” Oklahoma! that critics have been buzzing about. The prize is destined to go to the latter, and we’re more than OK(lahoma!) with that.

Best Revival of a Play

The Nominees:
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
The Boys in the Band
Burn This
Torch Song
The Waverly Gallery

Three of the plays in this category have already finished their runs, but hopefully Tony voters won’t forget about Lila Neugebauer’s poignant staging of The Waverly Gallery. Its biggest competition will be the powerful (and still-playing) All My Sons.

Leading Actor in a Musical

The Nominees:
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Santino Fontana, Tootsie

A show like Tootsie lives or dies by its lead, and Fontana earned near-universal praise for his turn(s) as Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels — charming audiences while handling the dual role’s challenging vocal demands and frequent costume changes. We also swooned for Damon Daunno’s guitar-playing cowboy and cackled at Alex Brightman’s hilarious, fourth-wall-breaking Beetlejuice, but this’ll be Fontana’s night.

Leading Actress in a Musical

The Nominees:
Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show

Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

Three actresses may share the role of Cher in the icon’s bio-musical, but Block — as “Star,” the main diva of that trio — stands out with a charismatic performance that’s as sparkling as a Bob Mackie ensemble without veering into caricature.

Leading Actor in a Play

The Nominees:
Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
Bryan Cranston, Network
Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver, Burn This
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy

This one’s a battle between Bryan Cranston’s “mad as hell” Howard Beale in Network and Jeff Daniels’ understated portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, with Adam Driver’s go-for-broke performance in Burn This not far behind. At this point, we’d say the scales tip towards Cranston, but this feels like one of the tightest races at the Tonys this year. (Side note: This might not be his year to win, but don’t forget the name Jeremy Pope — a double nominee for playing Eddie Kendricks in Ain’t Too Proud and his leading role in Choir Boy.)

Leading Actress in a Play

The Nominees:
Annette Bening, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

Lead Actress poses another stacked category, with 87-year-old Elaine May (in her first Broadway appearance in more than 50 years) favored for her wrenching turn in Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery. But no one is immune to competition from a category mate like Annette Bening, who gives a tremendous performance in All My Sons.

Featured Actor in a Musical

The Nominees:
André De Shields, Hadestown
Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

André De Shields is spectacular as Hadestown‘s silver-suited Hermes, commanding the stage as he guides Orpheus and the audience through the show’s descent into the Underworld. Could one of the Temptations stars dethrone him? Possibly, but it seems more than likely the 73-year-old Broadway legend will be the winner this weekend.

Featured Actress in a Musical

The Nominees:
Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Ali Stroker, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Honestly, everyone here deserves to win — and same goes for some of the actresses who didn’t make the category (justice for Beetlejuice‘s Leslie Kritzer and Head Over Heels’ Bonnie Milligan!). But based on the lineup here, we’d say it’s down to Amber Gray for her electric Persephone and Ali Stroker for her charismatic, flirtatious Ado Annie. It’s a close one, but we’ll go with Gray taking the win.

Featured Actor in a Play

The Nominees:
Bertie Carvel, Ink
Robin De Jesús, The Boys in the Band
Gideon Glick, To Kill a Mockingbird
Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
Benjamin Walker, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

Look for Bertie Carvel to match his Olivier Award from Ink‘s London run with some stateside hardware for his role as a young Rupert Murdoch in the early days of his news empire. Benjamin Walker could also be an appealing dark horse contender, however, for his emotional turn in All My Sons.

Featured Actress in a Play

The Nominees:
Fionnula Flanagan, The Ferryman
Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird
Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ruth Wilson, King Lear

The 41-year-old Celia Keenan-Bolger threads a very difficult needle in playing the young Scout Finch, who serves as the narrator of Sorkin’s Mockingbird — and nails it. Expect Tony voters to reward her for those efforts.

 

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