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FEINBERG FORECAST: Projections for the Tony Award Nominations

THR's awards analyst Scott Feinberg raises the curtain on his Tony season coverage and offers his best guesses in advance of Tuesday's nominations announcement.

Bryan Cranston All The Way - H 2014
Bryan Cranston in "All the Way"

As a longtime fan and student of Broadway, I am very happy to share that the theater awards season -- like the awards seasons for film and television -- will now be a part of my portfolio at The Hollywood Reporter, and that I will be based in New York during the month leading up to the 68th Tony Awards ceremony on June 8 at Radio City Music Hall.

This year's Tony nominations will be announced Tuesday morning, after which you will notice a surge in Tony-related posts on this blog. I have already seen a number of the likely nominees -- All the Way, If/Then, etc. -- and intend to see the rest as quickly as possible so that I can write about them and the people responsible for them in a variety of ways. As with the other two awards seasons, you can expect analysis, interviews and, yes, forecasts, the first of which appears below.

I recognize that the Tonys are a very different beast than the Oscars and the Emmys. Few people ever see all -- or even most -- of the contenders, due to geography, cost and timing. (They each play at one of the 40 theaters with 500 or more seats in and around Times Square, most of which charge more than $100 per ticket, plus some of the shows have already come and gone.) The ceremony is not preceded by months of festivals and awards shows that offer hints about how things will pan out. (The selections of the Drama League, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle groups are only of limited help because they also consider off-Broadway productions.) And the nominees and winners are not determined by thousands of voters, but rather by very few. (This year's nominating committee consists of just 44 people serving staggered three-year terms -- among them the actors Boyd Gaines, John Leguizamo and Marsha Mason -- and a mere 868 people will determine the winners.)

Still, at a time when talent jumps between theater, film and television more than ever -- Denzel Washington, Michelle Williams, James Franco, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston and Daniel Radcliffe are all appearing on the Great White Way right now -- we at the entertainment outlet of record feel that we ought to cover the best of theater as completely as possible. Our theater critic, David Rooney, is already leading the charge. And I can't wait to join him.

The following projections and commentary are based on my own viewings of contenders, which will continue through the coming weeks; frequent consultations with David, who has shared his extensive knowledge very generously; and careful readings of other Broadway commentators, plus Tony history books, rule books and Administration Committee decisions about categorizations of contenders. You can expect new and updated "Feinberg Forecast" posts each Monday through the Tonys!

* * *

BEST PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. All the Way (3/6-, THR review)
2. The Realistic Joneses (4/6-, THR review)
3. Casa Valentina (4/23-, THR review)
4. Outside Mullingar (1/23-3/16, THR review)
5. Act One (4/17-, THR review)
Major Threats
6. Mothers and Sons (10/17-, THR review)
Long Shots

7. The Velocity of Autumn (4/21-, THR review)

In what is widely regarded as one of the thinner years in this category's recent history (hence the relatively small field from which its four or five nominees will be chosen), the one sure thing seems to be All the Way, a drama in which Breaking Bad's Cranston portrays Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson during his quest to pass the Civil Rights Act. Other top contenders include the star-studded The Realistic Joneses, about two couples with the same last name who come to know each other; Casa Valentina, the latest play about sexuality -- in this case, cross-dressing in the 1960s -- from beloved Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein, who won in this category 31 years ago for Torch Song Trilogy; the Irish-set romance Outside Mullingar, the latest effort from the writer (John Patrick Shanley) and director (Doug Hughes) of this category's 2005 winner (Doubt), which closed back in March; Lincoln Center's Moss Hart bioplay Act One, adapted and directed by James Lapine; and Terrence McNally's new play Mothers and Sons. Also in contention is The Velocity of Autumn, a dramedy about an elderly woman who refuses to go into a care facility, which has earned some solid notices for lead actress Estelle Parsons but is barely hanging on at the box office while awaiting its Tonys fate.

BEST NEW MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (11/17-, THR review)
2. After Midnight (11/3-, THR review)

3. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (1/12-, THR review)
4. The Bridges of Madison County (2/20-, THR review)
5. Aladdin (3/20-, THR review)

Major Threats
6. Rocky (3/13-, THR review)
7. Bullets Over Broadway (4/10-, THR review)
8. If/Then (3/30-, THR review)
Long Shots
9. A Night with Janis Joplin (10/10-2/9,
THR review)
10. Big Fish (10/6-12/29, THR review)
11. First Date (8/8-1/5, THR review)

A Tony nomination is thought to make the biggest commercial difference for shows competing in the category of best new musical. This year's crop includes a plethora of movie adaptations (Aladdin, Big Fish, Bridges, Bullets, Rocky -- only the first of which was a musical on the big screen), a couple of jukebox musical bio-dramas (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and A Night with Janis Joplin) and a revue (jazzy After Midnight) to go with a precious few examples of obscure (Gentleman is derived from a little-known novel) and original material (If/Then and First Date). The general consensus is that Gentleman, Midnight, Bridges and Beautiful are probably safe bets and that there will be a dogfight for the remaining slot.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. The Cripple of Inishmaan (4/20-, THR review)
2. A Raisin in the Sun (4/3-, THR review)
3. The Glass Menagerie (9/26-2/23, THR review)
4. Of Mice and Men (4/16-, THR review)
5. Twelfth Night (11/10-2/16, THR review)

Major Threats
6. The Winslow Boy (10/17-12/1, THR review)
7.
Waiting for Godot (11/24-3/30, THR review)

8. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (4/13-, THR review)
9. Betrayal (10/27-1/5, THR review)
10. Machinal (1/16-3/2, THR review)
Long Shots

11. No Man's Land (11/24-3/30, THR review)
12. Richard III (11/10-2/16, THR review)
13. Macbeth (11/21-1/12, THR review)
14. Romeo and Juliet (9/19-12/8, THR review)

An eclectic field includes everything from oft-undertaken productions of William Shakespeare (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III and Twelfth Night), Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie), John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men) and Harold Pinter (Betrayal) through more rarely staged works by Sophie Treadwell (Machinal), Terence Rattigan (The Winslow Boy) and Pinter (No Man's Land) to a couple of plays that have been deemed revivals even though they've never previously appeared on the Great White Way (Lanie Robertson's Billie Holliday bio-drama with music Lady Day and Cripple of Inishmaan, which helped to put Irishman Martin McDonagh on the map), thanks to a regulation that classifies a show as a revival if it is deemed part of the theatrical canon. Two productions are vying to become just the sixth and, perhaps, seventh revivals to be nominated for this Tony more than once (as in, a revival of a revival): Betrayal (previously nominated in 2001) and Raisin (previously nominated in 2004). But Betrayal, as well as Twelfth Night and Richard III and also No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot (which were performed in repertory), may be handicapped by the fact that they closed months ago.

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (4/22-, THR review)
2. Violet (4/20-, THR review)
3. Les Miserables (3/23-, THR review)
4. Cabaret (4/24-, THR review)

Considering that these are the only four productions eligible for this award, all of which were warmly received, it is all but certain that they will all be nominated. Hedwig and Violet were never previously mounted on the Great White Way but appear in this category anyway because of the same canonical stipulation cited in the previous category's description. Cabaret, meanwhile, may be at a slight disadvantage, since the same core production -- Alan Cumming under the direction of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall (none of whom are eligible for recognition this time), minus Michelle Williams (who is eligible this time) -- won in this category in 1998.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. Bryan Cranston (All the Way)

2. Daniel Radcliffe (The Cripple of Inishmaan)
3. Denzel Washington (A Raisin in the Sun)
4. Mark Rylance (Richard III)

5. Chris O'Dowd (Of Mice and Men)
Major Threats

6. Ian McKellen (Waiting for Godot)
7. Santino Fontana (Act One)
8. Tony Shalhoub (Act One)
9. Bryan F. O'Byrne (Outside Mullingar)
10. Ian McKellen (No Man's Land)
11. Zachary Quinto (The Glass Menagerie)
12. Michael C. Hall (The Realistic Joneses)
Long Shots
13. Daniel Craig (Betrayal)
14. Patrick Stewart (Waiting for Godot)
15. James Franco (Of Mice and Men)
16. Samuel Barnett (Twelfth Night)

17. Roger Rees (The Winslow Boy)

18. Patrick Stewart (No Man's Land)
19.
Frederick Weller (Mothers and Sons)
20. Tracy Letts (The Realistic Joneses)
21. Ethan Hawke (Macbeth)

This category looks to be the deepest of any, with the only sure-thing being Cranston, who has wowed the theater community with his transformative performance in his first post-Breaking Bad project. Radcliffe is thought to have proven himself an actors' actor with his professionalism and polish in his two earlier, recent Broadway engagements (Equus and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), as well as this highly acclaimed one. A-list film and television stars, with few exceptions (i.e. Claire Danes and Julia Roberts), are generally warmly welcomed to Broadway by Tony voters, if not the less famous people whose jobs they take, which is why I'd look for Washington, this category's winner four years ago for Fences, to nab another nom (Sidney Poitier was Tony-nominated in this same category for the same role 54 years ago) -- and Craig and Franco to have considerable bases of support, too. As for the remaining two slots, it's something of a crapshoot. Rylance has several points in his favor (he has won in this category twice before and may be further boosted this year, for Richard III, by the fact that he was also very good in Twelfth Night). And O'Dowd, who, in his Broadway debut, has earned even better notices than his more famous costar, should not be underestimated either. Meanwhile, vote-splitting threatens to undercut the prospects of Act One's Fontana and Shalhoub and McKellen and Stewart for both No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot -- but Shalhoub and McKellen (for No Man's Land) still managed Outer Critics Circle noms last week, and McKellen (for No Man's Land) also bagged a Drama Desk nom, so one cannot rule out any of them.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill)

2. Cherry Jones (The Glass Menagerie)
3. Tyne Daly (Mothers and Sons)
4. LaTanya Richardson Jackson (A Raisin in the Sun)

5. Estelle Parsons (The Velocity of Autumn)
Major Threats

6. Rebecca Hall (Machinal)
7. Rachel Weisz (Betrayal)
8. Toni Collette (The Realistic Jones)
9. Debra Messing (Outside Mullingar)
Long Shots
10. Mary-Louise Parker (The Snow Geese)
11. Marisa Tomei (The Realistic Joneses)
12. Anne-Marie Duff (Macbeth)

Bet the farm on a nomination for McDonald, who, since her show opened, has made a major impression and is poised, at just 43, to make history. A mention for her would make her just the fifth person of either gender to score a nom in all four acting categories in which they were eligible (following Boyd Gaines, Raul Esparza, Angela Lansbury and Jan Maxwell), and, if she wins, she will become the first woman to have won a Tony in all four female acting categories -- and move into sole possession of the record of most Tony acting wins (her sixth win would move her out of a tie with Lansbury and Julie Harris). She'll probably be joined in the race by two-time Tony winner Jones (who, in a real oddity, would be the first performer ever Tony-nominated for a role in Menagerie); Daly, who has one win to her name; four-time Tony nominee Parsons, who is now 86, and whose reviews far outshone those of her play; and perhaps Richardson, who plays a slightly younger version of the same role for which Claudia McNeil was nominated for a Tony (1960) and Phylicia Rashad won one (2004) in this same category. (Richardson may also get bonus points for stepping into the role on very short notice after Diahann Carroll found the schedule too demanding and dropped out.) Hall certainly has her supporters, though, and probably possesses the best shot of knocking off one of the above. Working against Weisz, Messing, Parker and Duff: the fact that their shows have already closed.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

2. Jefferson Mays (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder)
3. Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder)

4. Ramin Karimloo (Les Miserables)
5. Stephen Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County)

Major Threats

6. Andy Karl (Rocky)
7.
Adam Jacobs (Aladdin)
8. Will Swenson (Les Miserables)

Long Shots
9. Zach Braff (Bullets Over Broadway)
10. Norbert Leo Butz (Big Fish)
11. Zachary Levi (First Date)

Nobody has more goodwill from the Broadway community than Harris, who has hosted the Tonys each of the last three years (and four times overall) and who, in Hedwig, brings to the Great White Way -- for the first time ever -- a transgender performer who is one of the most memorable characters one could ever concoct. Meanwhile, 2004 Tony winner Mays and costar Pinkham both stand a strong shot for the immensely well-liked Gentleman; Karimloo and Swenson have widespread support for Les Mis' "Jackman part" and "Crowe part," respectively; Pasquale is half of the duo who make Bridges work -- and have been better reviewed than even the production itself; and young Karl and/or Jacobs could also make the cut for their fresh takes on classic movie parts. Butz and Levi would have stood better shots if their shows hadn't closed months ago. TV star Braff, meanwhile, may have to put in a bit more time and further prove his chops before the theater community is ready to embrace him.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. Kelli O'Hara (The Bridges of Madison County)
2. Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)

3. Idina Menzel (If/Then)
4. Sutton Foster (Violet)
5. Mary Bridget Davies (A Night with Janis Joplin)

Major Threats

6. Michelle Williams (Cabaret)
7. Courtney Reed (Aladdin)

There is major and deep-rooted industry love for O'Hara (who accumulated four noms over the past decade), Menzel (who made her name in Rent and won this category's Tony for Wicked a decade ago) and Foster (who has won this category's Tony twice, for Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002 and Anything Goes in 2011). Meanwhile, 31-year-old Mueller has quickly gathered a loyal fan-base of her own (she was previously nominated for her featured performance in the 2011 musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and gets to play an endlessly likable talent in Beautiful). Assuming they all secure noms, there is then one remaining slot, which will be a nail-biter between Davies, who wowed many during her play's short run; Williams, for a Broadway -- and singing -- debut, in an iconic part (for which Lotte Lenya was nominated in 1967 and Natasha Richardson won in 1998 in this very category), that has charmed many but left others less impressed; and Reed, for a likable but less buzzed-about portrayal of beautiful Jasmine.

BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. Brian J. Smith (The Glass Menagerie)
2. Jim Norton (Of Mice and Men)
3. Samuel Barnett (Richard III)

4. Reed Birney (Casa Valentina)
5.
John McMartin (All the Way)
Major Threats

6. Peter Maloney Page (Outside Mullingar)
7. Patrick Page (Casa Valentina)
8. Alessandro Nivola (The Winslow Boy)
9. Rafe Spall (Betrayal)
10. Paul Chahidi (Twelfth Night)
11. Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night)
12.
Pat Shortt (The Cripple of Inishmaan)
Long Shots
13. Gabriel Ebert (Casa Valentina)
14. Stephen Fry (Twelfth Night)
15. Billy Crudup (Waiting for Godot)
16. Billy Crudup (No Man's Land)
17. Shuler Hensley (Waiting for Godot)
18. Shuler Hensley (No Man's Land)

The four featured acting categories are all generally unpredictable. Big names in these smaller parts and people associated with popular productions are always thought to have a leg up on the competition, but these races -- and particularly this one, this year -- are impossible to call with any degree of confidence. Two things that may or may not mean anything: last week, Smith, Chahidi, McMartin and Nivola earned Outer Critics Circle noms, while Smith, Birney and Maloney received Drama Desk noms.

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Projected Nominees
1. Mare Winningham (Casa Valentina)

2. Sophie Okonedo (A Raisin in the Sun)
3. Celia Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie)
4. Sarah Greene (The Cripple of Inishmaan)
5. Anika Noni Rose (A Raisin in the Sun)

Major Threats

6. Andrea Martin (Act One)
7. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Winslow Boy)
8. Charlotte Parry (The Winslow Boy)
9. Dearbhia Molley (Outside Mullingar)

This category features three Oscar nominees (The Color of Money's Mastrantonio, Georgia's Winningham and Hotel Rwanda's Okonedo, the last of whom is being considered for her Broadway debut); a couple of relative unknowns (Irishwoman Greene, making her Broadway debut, and Parry, who has appeared in several previous Broadway shows but never garnered much attention before now); and several previous Tony favorites (Molley was nominated in this category in 2002 for Dancing at Lughansa; Martin won last year's award for best actress featured in a musical, Pippin; Keenan-Bolger was nominated for her featured work in the 2005 musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and 2012 play Peter and the Starcatcher; while Noni Rose won for her featured work in the 2004 musical Caroline, or Change). When Raisin was last revived a decade ago, Audra McDonald won this category's Tony for her interpretation of Okonedo's part, beating Sanaa Lathan for her interpretation of the Noni Rose part. Also of some -- but not much -- note: Okonedo, Noni Rose and Martin were nominated by the Outer Critics Circle last week, whereas Okonedo and Keenan-Bolger garnered Drama Desk noms.

BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin)

2. Danny Burstein (Cabaret)
3. Jarrod Spector (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)
4. Dule Hill (After Midnight)
5. Hunter Foster (The Bridges of Madison County)
Major Threats

6. Nick Cordero (Bullets Over Broadway)
7. Joshua Henry (Violet)
8. Brooks Ashmanskas (Bullets Over Broadway)
Long Shots
9. Bobby Steggert (Big Fish)
10.
Colin Donnell (Violet)
11. Alexander Gemignani (Violet)

Iglehart has received raves for how he has brought Aladdin's Genie to life on Broadway for the first time. Four-time Tony nominee Burstein, the latest fine actor to portray Herr Schultz in Cabaret (in this very category Werner Klemperer was nominated in 1988 and Ron Rifkin won in 1998), has been similarly well received. And ex-Jersey Boys hunk Spector is the main man in one of the most popular shows of the year, so they all seem like safe bets. After them, though, your guess is probably as good as mine. Cordero is up for the part for which Chazz Palminteri garnered an Oscar nom, but his costar Ashmanskas has also been widely heralded, and they, like Violet's Henry, Donnell and Gemignani, may undercut each other's prospects. In case it offers any clue, and there's no guarantee that it does, I'll note that the Outer Critics Circle nominated Igleheart, Burstein and Spector -- plus Cordero and Henry, and the Drama Desk nominated Iglehart and Burstein -- plus Cordero, Henry and Steggert.

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

2. Anika Larsen (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)
3. Adriane Lenox (After Midnight)
4. Marin Mazzie (Bullets Over Broadway)
5. LaChanze (If/Then)
Major Threats

6. Margo Seibert (Rocky)
7. Linda Emond (Cabaret)

8. Lisa O'Hare (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder)
9. Lauren Worsham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder)
10. Helene Yorke (Bullets Over Broadway)

Long Shots
11. Caissie Levy (Les Miserables)
12.
Fantasia Barrino (After Midnight)
13. Nikki M. James (Les Miserables)
14. Kate Baldwin (Big Fish)

This category is stacked with formidable talent, none of whom can be classified as a slam-dunk. Among them: LaChanze, a 1991 nominee in this category and 2006 winner in the best actress in a musical contest, who gives her costar Menzel a run for her money with a similarly booming voice and magnetic personality. Midnight's Lenox, meanwhile, bagged a Tony of her own in 2005 for her featured work in the play Doubt, and is competing this time with her costar Barrino, a winner of American Idol in 2004. Other competing costars include Bullets' Mazzie (for the part for which Dianne Wiest won an Oscar) and Yorke, Gentleman's Worsham and O'Hara and Les Mis' Levy and James. Seibert, meanwhile, is vying for recognition in the role of Adrian (for which Talia Shire received an Oscar nom) in a production that has never previously been mounted on Broadway, just like those that showcase the work of Hall, Larsen and Baldwin. For whatever it's worth, the Outer Critics Circle broke for Larsen, Mazzie and O'Hare, while the Drama Desk backed Larsen, Lenox and Worsham.

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Projected Nominees
1. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Robert L. Freedman)

2. The Bridges of Madison County (Marsha Norman)
3. Aladdin (Chad Beguelin)
4. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Douglas McGrath)

Major Threats

5. If/Then (Brian Yorkey)
6. Rocky (Thomas Meehan, Sylvester Stallone)
7. Big Fish (John August)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE
Projected Nominees
1. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Steven Lutvak, Robert L. Freedman)

2. The Bridges of Madison County (Jason Robert Brown)
3. Aladdin (Chad Beguelin, Alan Menken)
4. If/Then (Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey)
Major Threats

5. Rocky (Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens)
6. Big Fish (Andrew Lippa)

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg