On Sunday night, will Broadway’s runaway hit run the trophy table?
As far as musicals go, the real nail-biter at this year’s Tony Awards ceremony is not whether “Hamilton” wins a bunch of prizes. Because it will. The question is whether it wins them all.
Well, not all all, of course: It can’t grab a statuette for best revival or for best featured actor in a play. But it is possible that its 16 nominations, a record, could result in 13 Tonys – one more than reigning champ “The Producers,” which in 2001 scooped up 12 wins.
A total blowout, one in which “Hamilton” wins more than half of the prizes handed out in 24 categories, is not a done deal by any means. Recognition by the 700-plus Tony voters for some of the exceptional talent in other Broadway shows this season may deny “Hamilton” the top spot on the all-time leader board. What follows, then, is a primer on the potential Tony night returns, for musicals and others, what to look for in key races, and how history may in fact be made.
The locksConsider seven categories sewn up by the front-runner: best musical; best original score (Lin-Manuel Miranda); best book (Miranda, again); best direction of a musical (Thomas Kail); best performance by a featured actress in a musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry); best performance by a featured actor in a musical (Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff or Christopher Jackson) and best orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire).
If “Hamilton” falters in any of these categories, chalk it up to the madness of this year’s national election campaigns infiltrating Broadway.
The toss-upsFour of the down-ballot races – the three visual-design categories and the award for best choreography – may swing to other shows. One of the most hotly contested races is between Andy Blankenbuehler, who devised the sensational, almost continual movement in “Hamilton,” and Savion Glover, whose enchanting tap choreography is the most elevating element of director George C. Wolfe’s “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”
The costume designer par excellence for “Shuffle Along,” Ann Roth, could slip past the innovative Paul Tazewell of “Hamilton”; and the set and lighting designers of the satirical “American Psycho” might have been stronger contenders against “Hamilton” and “Shuffle Along” if the musical had not closed Sunday. (It’s not a strict rule, but the voters tend to favor current hits.)
Miranda’s claim on a separate record – that is, to be the first person to win a best-actor Tony as well as the awards for book and score – is on the line in the category of best actor in a musical. Nominated for his portrayal of Alexander Hamilton, Miranda faces competition from his cast mate, Leslie Odom Jr., who portrays Aaron Burr. If the “Hamilton” vote ends up being split between them, the potential exists for another estimable candidate to glide in: the well-liked Danny Burstein, who should have won a Tony a few years back for his turn as Buddy in the most recent revival of “Follies.”
My money is on Karam’s exquisitely con