Tony Awards 2012: We predict the winners

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Image Credit: Deen van Meer

Now is the time for Newsies fans and theater geeks everywhere to seize the day! It’s Tony time! This Sunday, Neil Patrick Harris will be donning his tux once again to host the annual celebration of Broadway’s finest moments (and we’ll be live-blogging the Tony Award ceremony, so please watch with us!). In a repeat from last year’s NPH-led event, expect another rash of jokes at the expense of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. 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 Play
Clybourne Park (Thom)
Other Desert Cities
(Melissa)
Peter and the Starcatcher
Venus in Fur

It’s one of the strongest years in recent memory for new American plays. While Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities won wide acclaim when it opened last year, I give the edge to Pulitzer winner Clybourne Park.

Best Musical
Leap of Faith
Newsies
(Melissa, Thom)
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Once

This is a two-way race between movie-based hits that each have an underdog story: Once and Newsies. The former is charming but relatively small-scale. And since a sizable number of Tony voters handle Broadway tours throughout the country, a more traditional, broader-based hit like Newsies is likely to win out.

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (Thom, Melissa)
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Master Class
Wit

One of the most acclaimed revivals in years will get its due.

Best Revival of a Musical
Evita
Follies
(Melissa)
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
(Thom)
Jesus Christ Superstar

Most prognosticators, including Melissa, are picking director Eric Schaeffer’s acclaimed revival of the problematic Stephen Sondheim musical. While the show is now playing in Los Angeles with virtually its entire cast intact, it’s been off Broadway since January—and Schaeffer himself didn’t get a directing nomination. Not so directing nominee Diane Paulus, who’s overcome a storm of Sondheim-led controversy about her reinterpretation of Porgy and Bess and emerged (mostly) triumphant.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden – One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (Melissa, Thom)
James Earl Jones – Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella – Man and Boy
John Lithgow – The Columnist

This race isn’t even close. Attention will be paid.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda – Venus in Fur (Thom)
Tracie Bennett – End of the Rainbow (Melissa)
Stockard Channing – Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin – The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon – Wit

In a three-way race, I’m picking the ingenue Nina Arianda for her star-making turn in Venus in Fur. But British actress Tracie Bennett also delivers a singular and bravura turn as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow. And you can’t completely rule out Stockard Channing’s delightfully frosty performance as a Republican doyenne in Other Desert Cities.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein – Follies
Jeremy Jordan – Newsies (Melissa)
Steve Kazee – Once (Thom)
Norm Lewis – The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines – Follies

This is essentially a two-way race between this season’s rookie of the year, Jeremy Jordan (who also starred in this season’s short-lived Bonnie and Clyde), and the journeyman actor in his first major starring role, Steve Kazee.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell – Follies
Audra McDonald – The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Melissa, Thom)
Cristin Milioti – Once
Kelli O’Hara – Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes - Bonnie & Clyde

I expect Audra McDonald will pick up her fifth Tony Award for another stellar performance in a challenging role.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman (Melissa, Thom)
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park

Smash star Christian Borle may peel off some votes, but it’s hard to imagine his campy turn as a malaprop-spouting pirate would upset Andrew Garfield’s heartfelt performance as Biff in a dramatic classic.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond, Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Cella Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities (Melissa, Thom)
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly

A nominee in this category last year for Lombardi, the former star of Who’s the Boss? will finally claim the prize.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita (Thom)
David Alan Grier, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Melissa)
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar

The two Porgy and Bess stars are both deserving (and David Alan Grier’s is the flashier of the two), but I fear they may cancel each other out. That leaves Michael Cerveris, a Tony winner in this category for 2004’s Assassins and the strongest element of the new Evita revival.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It (Melissa, Thom)
Jesse Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost

This category is a face-off between two veterans: Jayne Houdyshell, the Broadway baby of Follies, and Judy Kaye, who literally swings from a chandelier in Nice Work If You Can Get It. Swing for the chandelier!

Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman (Melissa, Thom)
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher

Expect Nichols to accept his ninth Tony.

Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies (Thom)
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany, Once (Melissa)

It’s the Newsies vs. Once fight all over again.

Best Book of a Musical
Lysistrata Jones
Newsies (Melissa, Thom)
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Once

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bonnie & Clyde
Newsies (Melissa, Thom)
One Man, Two Guvnors
Peter and the Starcatcher

Yes, the last two nominees are non-musicals. Best Musical nominees Once and Nice Work If You Can Get It were ineligible since their scores were made up of pre-existing material. And the nominators really, really didn’t like Ghost and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. That should mean a win for composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, who wrote a bunch of news songs to supplement their tunes from the 1992 movie Newsies.

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies (Melissa, Thom)
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Newsies boasts some of the most energetic and athletic hoofing seen on stage in years.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park (Melissa, Thom)
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Donyale Werle’s set for Peter and the Starcatcher is charmingly clever, but Daniel Ostling’s design for Clybourne Park is virtually another character. In the first act, we see a 1959 home in a solid middle-class neighborhood; in act 2, that same home is a graffiti-strewn shell of its former self fifty years later.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Once
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies (Melissa)
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark (Thom)

Say what you will about this $72 million production, there’s no denying the genius of George Tsypin’s sets.

Best Costume Design of a Play
William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher (Melissa, Thom)

For her homespun mermaid outfits alone, Paloma Young deserves the prize.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Follies (Melissa, Thom)
ESosa, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher (Thom)
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Brian MacDevitt, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (Melissa)
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities

Death of a Salesman is the classy, artful choice. But Jeff Croiter’s work for Peter and the Starcatcher is showier and more innovative.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost: the Musical (Melissa, Thom)

Though there’s not much love for Ghost overall, Hugh Vanstone is the most deserving for keeping star Richard Fleeshman in a ghostly bluish light throughout the show — even when Fleeshman is dueting with costar Caissie Levy.

Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow (Thom)
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher (Melissa)

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Clive Goodwin, Once (Melissa, Thom)
Kai Harada, Follies
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Orchestrations
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Melissa)
Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once (Thom)
Danny Troob, Newsies

Read more:
Neil Patrick Harris promotes the Tony Awards in a big way
Tony Awards: ‘Once,’ ‘Nice Work…’ lead nominations — read the full list here!
Tony Award nominations react: Big surprises, shocking snubs

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