Here at Show-Score, we like to hear from both critics and fans about the theater they love. To date, over 16,000 theater fans have Predicted the Tonys, but our critic community has yet to weigh in...until now!
Yesterday, we looked at which shows will (and should) win this year’s Tonys. Now let’s find out what the critics thought of the acting noms!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Nominees: Alex Brightman, Danny Burstein, Zachary Levi, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr.
Critics Say WILL Win: Leslie Odom, Jr.
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Leslie Odom, Jr.
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Half the critics believe that Leslie Odom, Jr. will take the Tony. As Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater points out, “Lin-Manuel Miranda was generous enough to give another actor – Leslie Odom, Jr. – a fabulous part. Aaron Burr is in effect the narrator of ‘Hamilton’, carrying the burden of much of the exposition. Although he is Alexander Hamilton’s killer, he is also at one point his friend; he is a complex man, not a straightforward villain. Finally, Odom gets several of the best songs – including 'Wait For It' and 'In The Room Where It Happened' to himself.” Raven Snook of TimeOut New York added, “in terms of sheer electricity and emotion, Leslie's got it.” Ben Ferber of Hot Pepper Theater thought that “Burr is the more interesting/inscrutable character in the show” and Matthew Murray of Talkin’ Broadway called Odom “one of the better things about ‘Hamilton’.”
Despite this praise, it is still a hotly contested race, with many of the remaining votes going to Lin. Indeed, 55% of Show-Score members who predicted the Tony’s believe the award will go to Miranda, as opposed to 35% who believe it is Odom’s for the taking.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Nominees: Laura Benanti, Carmen Cusack, Cynthia Erivo, Jesse Mueller, Phillipa Soo
Critics Say WILL Win: Cynthia Erivo
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Cynthia Erivo
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Cynthia Erivo
This is as close to a landslide as it gets for a non-Hamilton show (especially in a category where "Hamilton" is nominated). 75% of all critics and 53% of Show-Score members believe Erivo has it in the bag, with just slightly less thinking she should win. Who got the other “should” votes? Everyone. One critic pointed out that in this category “all are deserving” for the “many spot-on portrayals” (Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater).
However, in the end, Erivo just nudged out the others. “I haven't seen a reaction on Broadway anything like the tempest that greets Erivo during and after ‘I'm Here,’” said Rob Weinert-Kendt of American Theatre Magazine. Jonathan Mandell concurred about her effect on the audience: “Erivo’s performance — both her acting and her crystal clear singing — is capable of both exquisite nuance and shattering power...which provokes the audience to rise up, tear up, and cheer.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Nominees: Gabriel Byrne, Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Tim Pigott-Smith, Mark Strong
Critics Say WILL Win: Frank Langella
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Mark Strong
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Mark Strong
Over half of our critics predicted that Langella would win the Tony this year, although when asked who should win, they were mostly Team Mark Strong, as are our Show-Score members. So why this lack of faith that the Tony voters would not pick the most deserving? David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America shed some light on this matter, “If ‘A View from the Bridge’ were still running, it would be Strong's to lose.” Another notable critic agreed, saying, “Langella and Strong are equally exceptional...Given that a significant number of voters did not see Strong (whose show closed in mid-winter), one guesses that Frank will take the award.” David Clarke of BroadwayWorld is of the same view: “Frank Langella may steal this out from under Mark Strong. But, Strong is so deserving of this award,” while others call Strong’s Eddie Carbone “the best dramatic performance on Broadway this year.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Nominees: Jessica Lange, Laurie Metcalf, Lupita Nyong'o, Sophie Okonedo, Michelle Williams
Critics Say WILL Win: Jessica Lange
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Jessica Lange
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Lupita Nyong'o
Reading the critics’ comments, it becomes clear why they believe Jessica Lange will and should win. The details of her artistry are described in specific and minute detail: “Her multi-octave voice, her fluttering hands, her deep love followed by verbally violent moments,” noted Raven Snook at TimeOut New York. “She is not just a fading ethereal figure, but a robust woman whose entire life unfolds before us — alternatively innocent, skittish, coquettish, sneering, full-out furious, resigned,” said Mandell at New York Theater. Barbour at Lighting and Sound America called Lange’s turn “astonishing.”
However, there was also some love for both Sophie Okenedo and Lupita Nyong’o. It seems the ensemble nature of “Eclipsed” works against Nyong’o, though many expressed that they would be happy to see her win it.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Nominees: Daveed Diggs, Brandon Victor Dixon, Christopher Fitzgerald, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson
Critics Say WILL Win: Daveed Diggs
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Daveed Diggs
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Daveed Diggs
Over 90% of critics and 66% of Show-Score members believe that this is going to be a win for Daveed Diggs. There was some talk of vote splitting between Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, and Daveed Diggs (all “Hamilton”) but most are confident, as is Ben Ferber at Hot Pepper Theater, that, “Diggs's incredible rising star, matched with his defining performance in ‘Hamilton’, will probably net him the Tony.” Even Matthew Murray at Talkin’ Broadway, who has resisted the Hamilfrenzy puts in one vote for Diggs: “by far the best of the ‘Hamilton’ bunch; Fitzgerald was technically better, but his material wasn't, and that plays a significant role.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Nominees: Danielle Brooks, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jane Krakowski, Jennifer Simard, Adrienne Warren
Critics Say WILL Win: Renée Elise Goldsberry
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Renée Elise Goldsberry
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Renée Elise Goldsberry
Goldsberry has a strong lead in both the WILL and SHOULD win categories. Critics admired her “stunning,” “mesmerizing” performance, especially “with the pure physical feat of rapping the most ambitious song in “Hamilton”, Satisfied” (Mandell, New York Theater). However, Jennifer Simard is a quiet favorite. As Matthew Murray at Talkin’ Broadway said, she “stopped a show that couldn't get started any other way,” an accomplishment “equivalent to lifting the Statue of Liberty with just your pinky.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Nominees: Reed Birney, Bill Camp, David Furr, Richard Goulding, Michael Shannon
Critics Say WILL Win: Reed Birney
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Reed Birney
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Reed Birney
This seems like a complete no-brainer to our team of critics. They lined up to heap praise on the actor, with comments like, “it's arguably the best performance yet by our greatest living stage actor” (Weinert-Kendt, American Theatre Magazine); “It is for actors like Reed Birney that I’m grateful theater awards like the Tonys exist, because he deserves the attention for an unflashy New York stage career going back 40 years of subtle, superb craftsmanship” (Mandell, New York Theater); and “after almost four decades of solid stage work, it's Birney's year...Feel the Birn!” (Snook, TimeOut New York)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Nominees: Pascale Armand, Megan Hilty, Jayne Houdyshell, Andrea Martin, Saycon Sengbloh
Critics Say WILL Win: Jayne Houdyshell
Critics Say SHOULD Win: Jayne Houdyshell
Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Megan Hilty
For the critics, this contest looks and feels very similar to the featured actor race. Jayne Houdyshell wins the “Will” and “Should” votes by a landslide. Some, like David Barbour at Lighting and Sound America believe that the two “Eclipsed” nominees will cancel each other out. Others believe that Houdyshell’s work on “The Humans” is a standout and deserves the Tony, for the same reasons they believe Birney deserves his. According to Matthew Murray (Talkin’ Broadway), “Everything I said about Reed Birney also applies to Houdyshell. Two marvelous actors doing some of their best work ever in this amazing play.” Howard Miller (also of Talkin’ Broadway) said she “gave the performance of a lifetime” and Raven Snook (TimeOut New York) told us that she is “a master at communicating more than the words say.” For David Clarke at BroadwayWorld, this award is Jane Houdyshell's hands down.” Interestingly, for fans, it’s Megan Hilty all the way, with 40% of the vote.