Predicting the Tonys: Critics Weigh In

Part Three: Which Production Design Will (and SHOULD) Win?

Show-Score | By Deeksha Gaur | Jun 8, 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!

2016 Tony Awards Logo 2016 Tony Awards Logo | By www.tonyawards.com

Here at Show-Score, we like to hear from both critics and fans about the theater they love. To date, close to 20,000 theater fans have Predicted the Tonys, but our critic community has yet to weigh in...until now!


On Monday, we looked at which shows will (and should) win this year’s Tonys.


Yesterday, we found out critic predictions of the acting Tonys.


Now let’s find out what the critics thought of the direction and production design noms!


BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Nominees: Es Devlin and Finn Ross, “American Psycho”; David Korins, “Hamilton”; Santo Loquasto, “Shuffle Along”; David Rockwell, “She Loves Me”

Critics Say WILL Win: David Korins, “Hamilton”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: David Rockwell, “She Loves Me”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: David Korins, “Hamilton”


72% of Show-Score members and 50% of critics think David Korins will take home the Tony. But the set designs that inspired the most passion were by David Rockwell for “She Loves Me” and Es Devlin and Finn Ross for “American Psycho.” Indeed, for some critics, it really seemed like a two-horse race. As David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America pointed out, “Rockwell's design is sumptuous and old-school…The ‘American Psycho’ design is far more original and groundbreaking, but I'm not detecting any love for the show.” Similarly, Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater is torn between Rockwell, who “was robbed of a Tony last year for ‘On The Twentieth Century’, and he deserves one again for the clever jewel box of a set” and set designer Es Devlin and projection designer Finn Ross. “Although I hated the musical itself, the design of ‘American Psycho’ was outstanding.”


Given the consensus that Rockwell and Devlin/Ross produced the best designs of the year, why is Korins slated to win? Perhaps, as Matthew Murray of Talkin’ Broadway noted, they don’t trust that, “the voters will use their eyes rather than voting autopilot.”



BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

Nominees: Beowulf Boritt, “Therese Raquin”; Christopher Oram, “Hughie”; Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”; David Zinn, “The Humans”

Critics Say WILL Win: Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Beowulf Boritt, “Therese Raquin”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”


Predictions were all over the place in this category. In the WILL  win category, just under half of all critics and 57% of Show-Score members believed Jan Versweyveld would win the Tony for “A View from the Bridge”. But when it came to who was truly deserving, votes were split between all four of the nominees. Some were big fans of Christopher Oram’s design for “Hughie”, as David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America was, calling the set “most spectacular.” David Clarke at BroadwayWorld praised its “wonderfully haunted feel, in accord with the play’s tone.” Others lauded David Zinn’s set for “The Humans”, praising its elaborate details and the “last minute magic act it performs” (Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway). However, Beowulf Boritt had the most votes by far in the SHOULD win category: “‘Therese Raquin's’ set was friggin' brilliant, with a cramped apartment suspended high above the stage juxtaposed with a literal river below ground level, and all of it could move,” said Ben Ferber of Hot Pepper Theater. Asked David Clarke of BroadwayWorld, “How could he not win this?”



BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Nominees: Gregg Barnes, “Tuck Everlasting”; Jeff Mahshie, “She Loves Me”; Ann Roth, “Shuffle Along”; Paul Tazewell, “Hamilton”

Critics Say WILL Win: Paul Tazewell, “Hamilton”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Paul Tazewell, “Hamilton”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Paul Tazewell, “Hamilton”


No surprise here that both critics and Show-Score members believe Paul Tazewell’s designs for “Hamilton” will win the Tony, believing that voters will, in the words of one prominent critic, jump “on the ‘Hamilton’ bandwagon.” However, the critics are split on whether “Hamilton” is truly deserving, or whether the award should go to Ann Roth for “Shuffle Along”.


Roth’s work is lauded for being “exceptional” and “stunning and superbly detailed” (Barbour, Lighting and Sound America). Raven Snook of TimeOut New York called Roth’s costumes “glorious” and wondered “if she'll make Audra's maternity dresses…” But for Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater, “Tazewell mixes period costumes with abstract garments for the ensemble that simultaneously suggest both the 18th and the 21st century.” He allows “us to see the era of the Founding Fathers through the prism of today.” Howard Miller of Talkin’ Broadway asked us to consider, “how much dancing they've got to do in those clothes.”  And Ben Ferber of Hot Pepper Theater asked, “Has there ever been a Broadway costume design that's inspired more fanart? (Not that literally a single Tony voter would know what "fanart" means.)”



BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

Nominees: Jane Greenwood, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; Michael Krass, “Noises Off”; Clint Ramos, “Eclipsed”; Tom Scutt, “King Charles III”

Critics Say WILL Win: Jane Greenwood, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Tom Scutt, “King Charles III”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Tom Scutt, “King Charles III”


While 57% of Show-Score members believe Tom Scutt will win for “King Charles III,” the critics haven’t got anywhere near as definitive an answer. Votes were all over the place in this category, with Greenwood winning the category by a hair. The reason? David Barbour at Lighting and Sound America articulated it best when he said: “I am totally agnostic on this category, so I am going to hope that, at long last, Jane Greenwood — the Susan Lucci of the Tonys — will finally be honored for all her fantastic work.”



BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Nominees: Howell Binkley, “Hamilton”; Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, “Shuffle Along”; Ben Stanton, “Spring Awakening”; Justin Townsend, “American Psycho”

Critics Say WILL Win: Howell Binkley, “Hamilton”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Justin Townsend, “American Psycho”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Howell Binkley, “Hamilton”


Critics believe that Tony voters don’t know much about lighting design and so are likely to vote with the tide. However, the all-important should win votes were split between Fisher and Eisenhauer’s “Shuffle Along” and Justin Townsend’s “American Psycho”. According to Howard Miller of Talkin’ Broadway, the “problematic show” should not stop Townsend from taking the Tony for his “great lighting design.” Indeed, David Clarke of BroadwayWorld called Townsend’s design “so brilliant it is staggering.” Others, like Matthew Murray of Talkin’ Broadway believes that, “Fisher and Eisenhauer marshaled an eye-popping cavalcade of instruments that helped make “Shuffle Along” a feast for the eyes.”



BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

Nominees: Natasha Katz, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; Justin Townsend, “The Humans”; Jan Versweyveld, “The Crucible”; Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”

Critics Say WILL Win: Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Justin Townsend, “The Humans”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Jan Versweyveld, “A View from the Bridge”


This was a pretty divisive category once again. Jan Versweyveld’s design is predicted to win by both critics and members, perhaps because, as Ben Ferber from Hot Pepper Theater surmised, “the complexity of an onstage audience will wow the Tony voters enough to give it to ‘A View from the Bridge’.” However, the most deserving winner, again, was Justin Townsend, this time for his design of “The Humans”. Said Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater: “Justin Townsend did stellar work this season, with shows at opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways — the blindingly bright ‘American Psycho’ and the mystically dark ‘The Humans’.” David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America praised Townsend for successfully “constantly redirecting the audience's attention over the two-floor set,” and for Matthew Murray at Talkin’ Broadway the answer can be summed up in four words: “The last scene. QED.”



BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Nominees: Michael Arden, “Spring Awakening”; John Doyle, “The Color Purple”; Scott Ellis, “She Loves Me”; Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”, George C. Wolfe, “Shuffle Along”

Critics Say WILL Win: Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”


This category doesn’t warrant much discussion. Most critics and 86% of Show-Score members awarded the Tony to Thomas Kail for “Hamilton”. But unlike some other categories this year, most felt that it was well-deserved. While everyone’s work was well-admired, Kail stood out for a number of reasons. For one, according to David Barbour of Lighting and Sound America, “‘Hamilton’ has the most seamless staging since ‘A Chorus Line’.” But perhaps more importantly, as Jonathan Mandell of New York Theater noted, “Thomas Kail is the person who is the second-most responsible for shaping ‘Hamilton’, having been there from the beginning, spending six long years helping Lin-Manuel Miranda with countless choices.”



BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

Nominees: Rupert Goold, “King Charles III”; Jonathan Kent, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; Joe Mantello, “The Humans”; Liesl Tommy, “Eclipsed”;  Ivo Van Hove, “A View from the Bridge”

Critics Say WILL Win: Joe Mantello, “The Humans”

Critics Say SHOULD Win: Ivo Van Hove, “A View from the Bridge”

Show-Score Members Say WILL Win: Ivo Van Hove, “A View from the Bridge”


While 47% of Show-Score members think the award will go to Van Hove, for critics, this is a true two-horse race. For one critic, “Van Hove takes it, although it could just as properly go to Mantello”. Rob Weinert-Kendt at American Theatre Magazine also acknowledged the strength of this category, but he believes that Mantello “is a known quantity” and will “edge out the others.”


In the Van Hove camp is David Clarke of BroadwayWorld, who said: “Ivo Van Hove's direction of ‘A View from the Bridge’ stripped the play down to its bones, letting the words take center stage. The result was virtuosic performances from the whole cast.” On the other side, Matthew Murray of Talkin’ Broadway wrote: “‘The Humans’ represents some of Mantello's best and most varied work, showing he can deal with actors and special effects with equal facility...he’s shown us he can be valuable--even essential--when he's at the top of his game. He has rarely been more on top than here.”


Check out Part Four where we round out the series with what the critics think of the musical creative team noms!


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



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