After the weirdest Tony Awards in history last year, when prizes for an incomplete Broadway season were handed out in a tentative mostly-streaming ceremony, the Tonys returns to CBS and Radio City Music Hall in 2022 to mark their 75th anniversary and honor the first full Broadway season since the Covid shutdown. With nearly three dozen eligible productions to consider (almost half of which opened in April), there was a lot to choose from this year, and the 2022 Tony nominations reflect the diversity of the offerings. It’s unlikely that any one show will clean up like Hamilton or The Book of Mormon did in their years; now that there’s a little wealth back in the system, the voters are likely to spread it a bit. Although it’s a hard year to make predictions—Covid precautions have put a damper on the circulation of buzz—we’re going to stick our necks out anyhow. Here’s who we think will win when Ariana DeBose hosts Broadway’s biggest night at on June 12, 2022.
RECOMMENDED: A full guide to the 2022 Tony Awards
The race: Best Musical is the Tonys’ marquee race, and in 2022 it boils down to a musical by Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop) versus one about Michael Jackson (MJ), with Six as a potential spoiler. With dynamite reviews and a Pulitzer Prize to its credit, A Strange Loop is the favorite, and it’s also the kind of small, dark show that the Tonys have tended to reward in recent years. (See also: The Band’s Visit, Fun Home, Once.) It’s not a done deal—voter support for Jackson’s queer Black intravaganza is a bit soft—but with MJ’s King of Pop and Six‘s pop queens dividing the opposition, we still expect A Strange Loop to take the victory lap.
The race: With nine nominations, nearly twice as many as any other new play, The Lehman Trilogy—a massive spectacle that traced more than 150 years of American financial history in almost three and a half hours—seems too big to fail this year, and no one thinks it will.
The race: Tony regulations meant that only three of this season’s four musical revival have a shot at the Tony. (Sorry, Funny Girl!) The nominators leaned toward director Marianne Elliott’s acclaimed, gender-swapped revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s groundbreaking Company, and so will voters. That Sondheim died last year—the production has recently taken to putting his face on its Playbills—adds to the show’s momentum.
The race: A wide range of strong offerings this year makes this category one of the year’s hardest to predict. Camille A. Brown’s reimagination of Ntozake Shange’s 1976 choreopoem for colored girls… got the most love from the nominators, and would give voters a chance to honor Black plays in a season in which they figured prominently. But Second Stage’s excellent revival of Take Me Out has benefitted from a lot of free publicity in recent weeks, thanks to unauthorized photos of its baseball-playing characters’ equipment. That may be enough to give it the edge in a tight race—in which the rear-view-mirror drama How I Learned to Drive might also be closer to winning than it appears.
Jason Robert Brown and Amanda Green, Mr. Saturday Night
Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare, Paradise Square
Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
Tom Kitt and Michael Korie, Flying Over Sunset
Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six
The race: Even if A Strange Loop loses Best Musical in an upset, Michael R. Jackson is nearly certain to win in this category. We say “nearly” because he’s absolutely certain to win for Best Book (see below), and if voters want to give something to the popular Six, this would be one way to do it.
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, Paradise Square
Conor McPherson, Girl from the North Country
Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, Mr. Saturday Night
Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
Lynn Nottage, MJ
The race: Michael R. Jackson is certain to win in this category.
BEST 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
The race: It’s a fight to the finish between Caroline, or Change‘s Sharon D Clarke and Paradise Square‘s Joaquina Kalukango, both of whom brought down their respective houses with 11-o’clock numbers. Clarke has the edge, in part because her role is much better written. (It also helps that she will be returning to Broadway next season in a revival of Death of a Salesman, which mitigates the relatively-unknown-British-actor factor.) But never rule out the potential for a suprise win by Broadway baby Sutton Foster.
BEST 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
The race: Although everyone loves Hugh Jackman, there’s not much excitement over his all-too-untroubled turn in The Music Man. The probable main contenders here are the two young men from the dueling Michael Jackson musicals. Spivey is the frontrunner, but he has missed a number of performances in the past few weeks, which could tip the scale against him. And Frost has bite: Some voters may be put off by MJ‘s subject, or wonder whether its lead actor can do more than an uncanny impersonation, but there’s no denying the sheer impressiveness of his performance.
BEST 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
The race: Conventional wisdom favors Mary-Louise Parker in this very tight category, but we think Dana H.’s Deirdre O’Connell has a solid chance to pull off a surprise win. We admit to a certain amount of wishful thinking in that regard: O’Connell gave the single most memorable performance of the season, bar none. But we also think that the Tonys’ new voter-portal set-up—which (theoretically) only allows votes from people who have seen all five performances—works to O’Connell’s advantage; in previous seasons, the shortness of Dana H.‘s run would have scuttled her chances. Parker won this same award just last year, which may work against her, but she’s a Broadway favorite in one of her signature roles, so she has a very good chance—as does LaChanze, who demonstrated suprising dramatic chops in Trouble in Mind.
BEST 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, Lackawanna Blues
David Threlfall, Hangmen
The race: With all three stars of The Lehman Trilogy potentially dividing the vote of that production’s fans, David Morse—recreating his disquieting original 1997 performance as a gentle child molester—has the advantage in this field. But Beale, Godley and Rockwell all have a fighting chance.
BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Jeannette 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
The race: Jennifer Simard is Company‘s secret weapon, but if Patti LuPone doesn’t win her third Tony for eating “The Ladies Who Lunch” for lunch, there will be hell to pay for decades to come. She almost certainly will—but although as the voters love a big juicy Broadway star like LuPone, they also love groundbreakers like L Morgan Lee, the first openly trans performer to be nominated for a Tony.
BEST 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
The race: Even people who don’t love Company agree the newly gay panic number “Getting Married Today” is a winner. That will likely translate into a win for Doyle, who delivers its rapid-fire neurosis. A Strange Loop‘s John-Andrew Morrison, a standout in that show’s strong ensemble, is Doyle’s main competition.
BEST 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
The race: Of the 2022 acting awards, this one is the hardest to call: Virtually any of the six nominees could walk away with the Tony. We think that Miller, who was pregnant when she performed in for colored girls…, has a modest edge over the others, but Rachel Dratch is a dark horse for her hilarious turn as a zonked-out White House aide in POTUS.
BEST 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
The race: He’s up against two of his costars, including one fellow Jesse, but the delightful Jesse Tyler Ferguson has Take Me Out‘s richest material as the baseball-crazy gay accountant Mason Marzac, a role for which Denis O’Hare won a Tony back in 2003. Ferguson’s biggest competition comes from Chuck Cooper, who brought Trouble in Mind to a somber halt. (We still think Austin Pendleton should have been nominated for The Minutes, but what can you do.)
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop
Marianne Elliott, Company
Conor McPherson, Girl from the North Country
Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Six
Christopher Wheeldon, MJ
The race: Marianne Elliott has already won three Tonys since 2011. She’s likely to grab a fourth this year, though her take on Company is divisive enough for someone else—like Brackett or Wheeldon—to nab the prize.
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.
The race: Stick a key in it, it’s done: Sam Mendes has a lock on this.
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls…
Warren Carlyle, The Music Man
Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Six
Bill T. Jones, Paradise Square
Christopher Wheeldon, MJ
The race: While he has a shot at Best Director, Wheeldon—a major macher in the ballet world—has a better one at winning for the thrilling movement he choreographed for MJ.
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
The race: Bunny Christie’s shifting urban landscape in Company (for which she also designed the costumes) is the deserving favorite here, but there’s a fair amount of sub rosa support out there for the Broadway-on-acid sets of Flying Over Sunset and the lavish showmanship of MJ.
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
Beowulf Boritt, 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
The race: Es Devlin’s sensational rotating box for The Lehman Trilogy seemed like a sure thing in this category until Adam Rigg’s gorgeous transhistorical settings for The Skin of Our Teeth came down the slide. Odds are still on Devlin, but this will be close.
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
The race: Gabriella Slade’s wild jewel-power suits for Six will probably win in this strong field, but Tazewell’s MJ outfits and Loquasto’s classic Music Man duds are also strong contenders.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Montana Levi Blanco, The Skin of Our Teeth
Sarafina Bush, for colored girls…
Jane Greenwood, Plaza Suite
Jennifer Moeller, Clyde’s
Emilio Sosa, Trouble in Mind
The race: Montana Levi Blanco’s vast and witty array of time-spanning costumes is the favorite in this race, though Jane Greenwood’s Plaza Suite costumes work harder than one of its stars.
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
The race: A very tight race. The concert effects of Six makes it the category’s flashiest contender, which gives it the edge, but Company, A Strange Loop or MJ could steal the spotlight.
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
The race: Best Lighting often amounts to Most Lighting. We expect another design win for the ace spectacularists of The Lehman Trilogy.
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Simon Baker, Girl from the North Country
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Company
Paul Gatehouse, Six
Drew Levy, A Strange Loop
Gareth Owen, MJ
The race: Mix.
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY
Justin Ellington, for colored girls…
Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.
Palmer Hefferan, The Skin of Our Teeth
Nick Powell, The Lehman Trilogy
Mikaal Sulaiman, Macbeth
The race: The expert sound design in Dana H. is pivotal to the entire production—but it’s also subtle. We expect the prize to go instead to the showier aural action of The Lehman Trilogy.
David Cullan, Company
Tom Curran, Six
Simon Hale, Girl from the North Country
Charlie Rosen, A Strange Loop
Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ
The race: This category is always a wild card, since so few voters know what they’re listening for. It tends to be lumped in with slate votes for the Best Musical winner, which gives A Strange Loop a leg up. Company has a strong slate this year too, however—and this could be the one category in which voters show some love to the Bob Dylan musical Girl from the North Country.
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Robert E. Wankel
Special Tony Award
James C. Nicola
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC)
Broadway For All
United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, IATSE
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.