2022 Tony Awards Predictions: A ‘Trilogy,’ a ‘Loop’ and a thriller of a lead actor in a musical race
The theatrical event of the season is finally here! The 2022 Tony Awards will be presented on Sunday, June 12, in two ceremonies across the evening. The Tony Awards: Act One, which will feature a handful of awards and some special performances will stream exclusively on Paramount+ at 7pm Eastern, while the main ceremony, hosted by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, will be broadcast at 8pm Eastern on Paramount+ and CBS stations. Due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nominating committee was much smaller this year than usual, leading to some super large categories because of ties/close vote counts. Will this make predicting the winners more difficult than usual?
Let’s take a look and find out.
- Skeleton Crew
- The Lehman Trilogy
- The Minutes
Could and Will Win: The only play here that could have conceivably challenged The Lehman Trilogy, Tracy Letts’s The Minutes, received its sole Tony nomination in this category, so it doesn’t have a shot in hell of beating the hottest ticket of the season. Lehman was a shoo-in from the time its Broadway transfer was announced, and even though it isn’t currently open for people to see it during voting, they absolutely saw it earlier in the season, and likely won’t vote for anything else.
Best Revival of a Play
- American Buffalo
- for colored girls…
- How I Learned to Drive
- Take Me Out
- Trouble in Mind
Could Win: The story of Camille A. Brown’s landmark revival of for colored girls… (the show was selling so poorly that it posted an early closing notice just before the Tony nomination announcement, then got the second most nominations of any play and sold so well that it had to extend its run) may prove too juicy for the voters to pass up, but there have been two other high-profile play revivals getting a lot of buzz in the voting period, and Take Me Out is a well-loved play that’s already won a Tony for Best Play.
Will Win: How I Learned to Drive is a landmark of American theater that finally came to Broadway twenty-five years after its initial production, bringing back the original director and cast to beautiful effect. It’s also performed shockingly well at the box office for a play about such a difficult subject.
Best Direction of a Play
- Lileana Blain-Cruz (The Skin of Our Teeth)
- Camille A. Brown (for colored girls…)
- Sam Mendes (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Neil Pepe (American Buffalo)
- Les Waters (Dana H.)
Could Win: Camille A. Brown winning this award after a Broadway season that consciously put diverse voices at its forefront would be a sweet victory, indeed.
Will Win: Sam Mendes had this sewn up from pretty much the moment the transfer of The Lehman Trilogy to Broadway was announced.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
- Simon Russell Beale (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Adam Godley (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Adrian Lester (The Lehman Trilogy)
- David Morse (How I Learned to Drive)
- Sam Rockwell (American Buffalo)
- Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawana Blues)
- David Threlfall (Hangmen)
Could Win: Even with an unprecedented number of nominees in this category, it still only feels like a couple of these men have a decent shot. Rockwell is a big star with a ferocious part that couldn’t be more perfect for him, and Godley has the showiest role in Lehman, aging from a small child to fully-formed adult.
Will Win: Ultimately, this comes down to Simon Russell Beale, from the hottest ticket of the first half of the season, and David Morse, from the hottest ticket of the second half of the season. We suspect that recency bias, the incredible story of this production, and the temptation to give his-and-hers awards to its stars will tip the scales ever so slightly in favor of Morse, especially given the internal competition for Beale, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he wins it on name alone.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
- Gabby Beans (The Skin of Our Teeth)
- LaChanze (Trouble in Mind)
- Ruth Negga (Macbeth)
- Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.)
- Mary-Louise Parker (How I Learned to Drive)
Could Win: O’Connell is a much-loved veteran of the NY theater community finally blessed with the role of a lifetime, and if her play hadn’t closed long ago, she certainly would have given the front-runner a run for her money.
Will Win: Parker has received the best reviews of her storied career for returning to the role of Li’l Bit twenty-five years after originating the part, and the production has been the hottest ticket on Broadway during voting. A loss would be a big shock.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
- Alfie Allen (Hangmen)
- Chuck Cooper (Trouble in Mind)
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Take Me Out)
- Ron Cephas Jones (Clyde’s)
- Michael Oberholtzer (Take Me Out)
- Jesse Williams (Take Me Out)
Could Win: Alfie Allen has the most traditional scene stealer role of any in this category, and received glowing reviews. There is a case to be made for any of the men from Take Me Out.
Will Win: We suspect that Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the one that comes out on top. It’s a Tony-winning role (Denis O’Hare won for the original production), he’s a Broadway baby, and the last time three men from the same production were nominated in this category, the one of them with the most respected theatrical resume (Mark Rylance) won.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
- Uzo Aduba (Clyde’s)
- Rachel Dratch (POTUS)
- Kenita R. Miller (for colored girls…)
- Phylicia Rashad (Skeleton Crew)
- Julie White (POTUS)
- Kara Young (Clyde’s)
Could Win: Any of these ladies could make a case for winning – Aduba and Rashad are big stars in scene-stealing roles; Young got a lot of press at the Tony Nominees luncheon when the audience applauded her father, who has been a server at the Rainbow Room for decades; White is a stage legend doing what she does best; and everybody loves Dratch, who is a dizzy delight doing incredibly physical work.
Will Win: None of those ladies, though, had to perform a gut-wrenching monologue eight times a week while getting increasingly pregnant. Kenita R. Miller has the story and the performance to win, and she also gets to be a stand-in for the entire ensemble of one of the most-nominated plays of the season.
Best Costume Design of a Play
- Montana Levi Blanco (The Skin of Our Teeth)
- Sarafina Bush (for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf)
- Jane Greenwood (Plaza Suite)
- Jennifer Moeller (Clyde’s)
- Emilio Sosa (Trouble in Mind)
Could Win: Emilio Sosa is the current Chairman of the Board of the American Theatre Wing, and that could push some votes his way for the long-closed Trouble in Mind.
Will Win: The scope and variety of Montana Levi Blanco’s work on the maximalist revival of The Skin of Our Teeth should take this.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
- Joshua Carr (Hangmen)
- Jiyoun Chang (for colored girls…)
- Jon Clark (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Jane Cox (Macbeth)
- Yi Zhao (The Skin of Our Teeth)
Could Win: The Skin of Our Teeth has a lot of really showy technical elements, and the lighting is one of them.
Will Win: All other things being equal, the best bet with the technical categories is to go with the front-runner for the top prize, so this will probably add to The Lehman Trilogy’s win tally.
Best Scenic Design of a Play
- Beowulf Borrit (POTUS)
- Michael Carnahan and Nicholas Hussong (Skeleton Crew)
- Es Devlin (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Anna Fleischle (Hangmen)
- Scott Pask (American Buffalo)
- Adam Rigg (The Skin of Our Teeth)
Could Win: If the voters want to go for MOST scenic design, the insanely detailed junk shop of American Buffalo and the mind-blowing maximalism of The Skin of Our Teeth would make worthy winners.
Will Win: If there’s one tech award that The Lehman Trilogy is absolutely going to win, it’s this one, for its striking, multi-faceted glass office.
Best Sound Design of a Play
- Dominic Bilkey and Nick Powell (The Lehman Trilogy)
- Justin Ellington (for colored girls…)
- Mikhail Fiksel (Dana H.)
- Palmer Hefferan (The Skin of Our Teeth)
- Mikaal Sulaiman (Macbeth)
Could Win: The sound design is integral to the success of the storytelling of The Skin of Our Teeth, and voters could default to The Lehman Trilogy here as well.
Will Win: It may be long since closed, but Dana H. has its sound design at the very forefront (the lead actress, Deirdre O’Connell, lip syncs to a recording of a woman recounting her abduction by a white supremacist), and its surprise Best Director nomination indicates that the nominating committee, at least, was impressed by it. This would be a fitting way to honor one of the season’s most stunning new works.
- A Strange Loop
- Girl From the North Country
- Mr. Saturday Night
- Paradise Square
Could Win: In the past, this award would often go to the show with the best touring prospects over the more critically-acclaimed, “arty” shows, which would have surely favored the delightful Six, the biggest musical hit of the season.
Will Win: That hasn’t been the case recently, though, and A Strange Loop has followed a similar developmental path as recent winners Hadestown, The Band’s Visit, and Fun Home. While Six may prove the ultimate survivor of the 2021-2022 Broadway season, Tony night will belong to this “big, black, and queer-ass American Broadway show.”
Best Revival of a Musical
- Caroline, or Change
- The Music Man
Could and Will Win: Caroline is closed, and The Music Man is divisive. But everybody loves Company, which should win this easily.
Best Direction of a Musical
- Jamie Armitage and Lucy Moss (Six)
- Stephen Brackett (A Strange Loop)
- Marianne Elliott (Company)
- Conor McPherson (Girl From the North Country)
- Christopher Wheeldon (MJ)
Could Win: It would be foolish to count out the Best Musical frontrunner completely, especially when the whole show feels as fresh as A Strange Loop.
Will Win: Marianne Elliott is one of the most talented and respected directors working, and Company is the show where the hand of the director is most prevalent. She took a Broadway classic and made it feel fresh and current, and voters will want to reward her for that.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
- Billy Crystal (Mr. Saturday Night)
- Myles Frost (MJ)
- Hugh Jackman (The Music Man)
- Rob McClure (Mrs. Doubtfire)
- Jaquel Spivey (A Strange Loop)
Could Win: Everybody loves Billy Crystal, and his comedic performance in Mr. Saturday Night is the kind of endearing vaudevillian turn that can win awards for legends, even if their singing voice isn’t the greatest.
Will Win: While Spivey could still do it, he missed a week of performances during the voting period, which left the door open for the season’s other acclaimed newcomer, Myles Frost, to potentially beat him to the buzzer in a last-second thriller.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
- Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline, or Change)
- Carmen Cusack (Flying Over Sunset)
- Sutton Foster (The Music Man)
- Joaquina Kalukango (Paradise Square)
- Mare Winningham (Girl From the North Country)
Could Win: We’d love for the breathtaking Mare Winningham to take this, but it’s really a two horse race.
Will Win: The last time a performance won for a show that closed before Tony voting was Martin Short’s virtuosic playing of multiple characters in Little Me back in 1999, which would seem to indicate a giant uphill battle for Clarke, especially in light of Kalukango’s stirring eleven o’clock number in Paradise Square. But no one really seems to love Paradise Square the way they do Caroline, or Change, and Clarke’s thunderous performance of that show’s eleven o’clock number, the devastating “Lot’s Wife”, also blew the roof off the joint back in the fall. We think that love for the show will push Clarke over the top, but Kalukango might just pull it off.
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
- Matt Doyle (Company)
- Sidney DuPont (Paradise Square)
- Jared Grimes (Funny Girl)
- John-Andrew Morrison (A Strange Loop)
- A.J. Shively (Paradise Square)
Could Win: Everybody loves Jared Grimes, and he’s a true triple threat dancing up a storm in the woebegone revival of Funny Girl.
Will Win: While John-Andrew Morrison’s turn in the second act of A Strange Loop brings the audience to tears, Matt Doyle’s virtuosic “Getting Married Today” is the stuff of legend, and won an Olivier for Jonathan Bailey in the production’s West End version. It’s his to lose.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
- Jeanette Bayardelle (Girl From the North Country)
- Shoshana Bean (Mr. Saturday Night)
- Jayne Houdyshell (The Music Man)
- L Morgan Lee (A Strange Loop)
- Patti LuPone (Company)
- Jennifer Simard (Company)
Could and Will Win: As in so many things, there is Patti LuPone, and then there’s everybody else. While she doesn’t always win at the Tonys, this is such a perfect match of performer and character (and iconic song) that none of these other women, great as they are, could ever hope to snatch a win from her. And if she wasn’t already the frontrunner, that legendary takedown of an audience member not wearing her mask during a Q&A definitely sealed the deal. Everybody rise!
- Camille A. Brown (for colored girls…)
- Warren Carlyle (The Music Man)
- Carrie-Anne Ingrouille (Six)
- Bill T. Jones (Paradise Square)
- Christopher Wheeldon (MJ)
Could Win: If she’s not winning for her stirring direction, Brown could win here as a consolation prize if the voters feel frisky enough to reward a play in this category.
Will Win: Wheeldon’s recreations of some of the most memorable choreography of the 20th century should moonwalk to an easy victory here, much in the way that Sergio Trujillo did for Ain’t Too Proud in 2019.
Best Costume Design of a Musical
- Fly Davis (Caroline, or Change)
- Toni-Leslie James (Paradise Square)
- William Ivey Long (Diana)
- Santo Loquasto (The Music Man)
- Gabriella Slade (Six)
- Paul Tazewell (MJ)
Could Win: The period realism of Paradise Square could be a dark horse spoiler, as could Tazewell’s recreations of Michael Jackson’s iconic outfits.
Will Win: This is essentially a two-horse race between Loquasto, who has won for exactly this type of work on this type of production before (for 2017’s Hello, Dolly! revival), and Slade, whose queenly creations are so iconic that they’ve been converted into pins sold at the Six merchandise booth. Given the show’s overall stronger reception, we think Six beheads The Music Man, but wouldn’t be surprised if the denizens of River City give the queens a little Trouble with a capital T.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
- Neil Austin (Company)
- Tim Deiling (Six)
- Donald Holder (Paradise Square)
- Natasha Katz (MJ)
- Bradley King (Flying Over Sunset)
- Jen Schriever (A Strange Loop)
Could Win: It’s always possible that the Best Musical frontrunner takes at least one tech award to go along with the big prize, so you can’t count out Schriever’s work on A Strange Loop.
Will Win: Neil Austin’s dynamic, expressive work on Company is probably the most artful use of lighting in the bunch, but we suspect that the legendary Natasha Katz will edge him out for her explosive work on the more-loved-than-we-anticipated MJ.
- David Cullen (Company)
- Tom Curran (Six)
- Simon Hale (Girl From the North Country)
- David Holcenberg and Jason Michael Webb (MJ)
- Charlie Rosen (A Strange Loop)
Could Win: Best Orchestrations and Best Score often go hand in hand, so neither A Strange Loop nor Six should be counted out. The orchestrations for Girl From the North Country are mind-blowing, completely transforming the Bob Dylan originals.
Will Win: The task of re-orchestrating Sondheim’s legendary compositions for Company to suit a gender-swapped production is such an enticing proposition that we suspect voters, already feeling the loss of the master himself, will feel compelled to give it the nod here.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
- Beowulf Boritt and 59 Productions (Flying Over Sunset)
- Bunny Christie (Company)
- Arnulfo Maldonado (A Strange Loop)
- Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini (MJ)
- Allen Moyer (Paradise Square)
Could Win: Again, being the front-runner for Best Musical helps A Strange Loop, with its grand set reveal, here.
Will Win: Christie’s genius work on Company, highlighted in the incredible “Getting Married Today” number, appears simple but hides so much in its big white boxes of a set.
Best Sound Design of a Musical
- Simon Baker (Girl From the North Country)
- Paul Gatehouse (Six)
- Ian Dickinson for Autograph (Company)
- Drew Levy (A Strange Loop)
- Gareth Owen (MJ)
Could Win: Company does have some grand fun with its sound design, especially in its magical resurrection of the show’s most difficult number to stage, “Tick Tock”.
Will Win: As with the other tech categories, A Strange Loop’s status as Best Musical frontrunner could give it a default win here, but there have been numerous reports from audiences that they had difficulty hearing the show. We suspect that gives a slight edge to the crystal-clear concert mixing of Six.
Best Book of a Musical
- Christina Anderson, Larry Kirwan, and Craig Lucas (Paradise Square)
- Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel (Mr. Saturday Night)
- Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop)
- Conor McPherson (Girl From the North Country)
- Lynn Nottage (MJ)
Could and Will Win: There is nothing in this category that could beat Michael R. Jackson’s groundbreaking A Strange Loop. Nothing.
Best Original Score
- A Strange Loop (music and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson)
- Flying Over Sunset (music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Michael Korie)
- Mr. Saturday Night (music by Jason Robert Brown, lyrics by Amanda Green)
- Paradise Square (music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Masi Asare and Nathan Tysen)
- Six (music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss)
Could Win: There is an outside chance that voters will want to give Six, the biggest musical hit of the season, this award as a consolation prize for not winning Best Musical, and its catchy, clever music and lyrics wouldn’t be unworthy of the honor.
Will Win: This is, once again, Michael R. Jackson’s to lose for his beautiful, groundbreaking work on A Strange Loop.
Photo: Marc J. Franklin