Predicting the Tonys: Critics Weigh In

Part One: Which Shows Will (and SHOULD) Win?

Show-Score | By Deeksha Gaur | Jun 6, 2016

We reached out to a number of leading critics to ask them who they thought will win the Tonys (and who SHOULD win).  Some of their responses just might surprise you!

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Here at Show-Score, we like to hear from both critics and fans about the theater they love. To date, close to 18,000 theater fans have Predicted the Tonys, but our critic community has yet to weigh in...until now!

We reached out to a number of critics to ask them who each thought WILL and SHOULD win.   It’s of course a very busy time of year, but we were delighted that so many responded, including critics from (in alphabetical order): Act Three, American Theatre Magazine, Bob’s Theater Blog, Broadway World, CitiTour, CurtainUp, The Guardian, Hot Pepper Theater, Huffington Post, Lighting and Sound America, New York Theater, The New York Times, Talkin’ Broadway, Theater in the Now, Time Out New York, Stage Buddy, and The Washington Post.

We wanted to especially shout out to our friends at StageGrade for starting this tradition and to Jonathan Mandell at New York Theater for suggesting we carry the tradition forward.  

Without further ado, please find part one of our four-part series on who the critics think will and should win.

It should come as no surprise that this is the year of “Hamilton”. The question on everyone’s mind is should “Hamilton” sweep? Opinions are mixed. Some believe, as Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater does, that “luckily, the show is worthy of its elevation, for being both groundbreaking and breathtaking.” Others, like Elyse Sommer of CurtainUp feel that the show “is such a juggernaut that a lot of truly fine and deserving shows have lost out.” This debate about which shows SHOULD win dominated the feedback we gathered from the critics.  


Nominees: "Bright Star", "Hamilton", "School of Rock", "Shuffle Along", "Waitress"

Critics Say WILL Win: "Hamilton"

Critic Say SHOULD Win: "Hamilton"

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: "Hamilton"

It’s the year of the “duh,” everybody. According to Matthew Murray of Talkin' Broadway, this is “perhaps the most pointless category, not just of the year but of the entire history of the Tony Awards.” Another critic called it “the mother of all ‘locks’” and Ben Ferber at Hot Pepper Theater promised, “If this doesn't happen, I will literally eat a hat.” (Hey Ben, we’re going to hold you to it.)  

But not all critics are Hamil-fans. Both “Shuffle Along” and “School of Rock” each received one vote in the should win category. And many expressed a desire to vote for both “Shuffle Along” as well as "Hamilton".


Nominees: "Eclipsed", "The Father", "The Humans", "King Charles III"

Critics Say WILL Win: "The Humans"

Critics Say SHOULD Win: "The Humans"

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: "Eclipsed"

The Humans
1,499 reviews
Overall Score

Now this is an interesting race! The critics’ consensus handed the Tony to “The Humans”, but this was by no means a unanimous decision. A handful of critics — like many Show-Scorers — believe that “Eclipsed” will, and indeed should, take home the prize. This debate is well summarized by Howard Miller of Talkin’ Broadway who said: “‘The Humans’ takes it for its flawless execution as well as outstanding writing. But nearly as strong is ‘Eclipsed’, with a broader and more worldly social justice theme.”


Nominees: "The Color Purple", "Fiddler on the Roof", "She Loves Me", "Spring Awakening"

Critics Say WILL Win: "The Color Purple"

Critics Say SHOULD Win: "The Color Purple"

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: "The Color Purple"

Again, consensus may be one thing, but unanimity is quite another. While most agreed that “The Color Purple” will win, over half the critics believed either “Spring Awakening” or “She Loves Me” should win. The reason for all the disagreement: we’ve been spoiled for choice this year. As Todd Backus of Hot Pepper Theater pointed out, “This is a category in which I’d be happy to see any of the nominated shows win — they were all that good.”

And David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America concurred: “This is really too close to call. Both ‘Color Purple’ and ‘Fiddler’ offer something new...But ‘She Loves Me’ is very beloved, so there's no real clear favorite.” Ultimately though, while many see it as “a less than splendid musical,” the “splendid production” of “The Color Purple” puts it over the edge to take home the win among these critics.


Nominees: "Blackbird", "The Crucible", "Long Day's Journey Into Night", "Noises Off", "A View from the Bridge"

Critics say WILL Win: "A View from the Bridge"

Critics say SHOULD Win: "A View from the Bridge"

Show-Score Members say WILL win: "A View from the Bridge"

About a quarter of the critics believe “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” will and should win. Why? “ part because it is still running and because the conservative Tony voters may prefer a more straightforward production.” And perhaps because, as Michael Block of Theater in the Now said, “Ivo van Hove's Arthur Miller revivals may cancel him out with voters.” That being said, there’s a great amount of admiration for van Hove's "A View from the Bridge." According to Raven Snook of Time Out New York: “Ivo van Hove's stripped-down take on Miller's classic was revelatory. I sat onstage and was enthralled.” Others described this production as “perfect” and the auteur as having “changed forever how classic American plays are staged.”

Check out Part Two where we find out what the critics think of the acting noms!

And don’t forget to make your own predictions, for a chance to win up to 1,000,000 Audience Rewards Points!