Tony Awards Predictions: Who Will Win & Who Should Win On Broadways Big Night 2023

Tony Awards Predictions: Who Will Win & Who Should Win On Broadways Big Night 2023


Has there ever been a less predictable Tony Awards? Just a few weeks ago there were doubts that a televised ceremony would even happen, due to the ongoing WGA strike. That problem proved to be just a speed bump – the guild agreed not to picket the show, but the show will include no scripts, no pre-written introductions or podium banter. There will be the usual musical numbers from the nominated shows – the heart of the ceremony – as well as some additional performances, tributes to John Kander and Joel Grey, the traditional In Memoriam segment and, well, we’ll all just have to wait and see for the rest.

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But the usual Will Wins/Should Wins are predictions of a different sort, and no strike or toxic-looking orange sky over New York City can stop those speculations. So here we go. Deadline’s 2023 Tony Awards Predictions, our Wills and Shoulds in select categories, along with a slew of observations, two cents and, well, who knows what else…


Christian Borle, Some Like It Hot
J. Harrison Ghee, Some Like It Hot
Josh Groban, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Brian d’Arcy James, Into the Woods
Ben Platt, Parade
Colton Ryan, New York, New York

Worthy nominees all. Colton Ryan was the best thing about New York, New York, and the young actor’s star-making turn all but guarantees he’ll be back on this Tony stage again, but this isn’t his year. Vets Brian D’Arcy James and Christian Borle are seemingly incapable to turning in a bad performance, and the theater community’s affection shouldn’t be easily dismissed this weekend. But this category is a three-nominee race, with a too-close-to-call competition that could go in any direction. J. Harrison Ghee is wonderful in Some Like It Hot, turning in a moving and very funny performance and, as a nonbinary performer, rescuing what could have been another entry in the outdated man-in-a-dress comedy routines that all but sank Mrs. Doubtfire and the better Tootsie.

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Earlier this spring, I thought Ben Platt was a shoo-in for his terrific performance in Parade, and I wouldn’t be disappointed with that outcome, but my enthusiasm dimmed just slightly once I saw Josh Groban in the title role of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. A demanding role vocally, dramatically and physically, Groban does the impossible night after night: He makes long-time Broadway devotees all but forget, at least for the show’s running time, the specters of previous Sweeneys Len Cariou and George Hearn. Groban gets my vote.

Will Win: J. Harrison Ghee
Should Win: Josh Groban


Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Topdog/Underdog
Corey Hawkins, Topdog/Underdog
Sean Hayes, Good Night, Oscar
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy
Wendell Pierce, Death of a Salesman

Sean Hayes has some powerful name recognition from his Will & Grace years, and his performance as legendary wit Oscar Levant certainly has the showy quality that some find appealing. Others, myself included, found the performance more than a little hammy. We’ll see if one side cancels the other.

The cancelled-out problem could strike the Topdog/Underdog stars too, which would be a terrific shame. One of the two stars, either Yahya Abdul-Mateen II or Corey Hawkins, should be accepting the Tony on Sunday, so powerful were their performances in a play revival that could have gone all sorts of wrong but didn’t.

Their strongest competitor, and likely winner, is Stephen McKinley Henderson, who played an elderly man all but crushed under a lifetime of regrets and fears for the adult son who might be making mistakes all his own. A masterful performance in a play that almost, but thankfully not quite, let the character down in the drama’s final moments. Wendell Pierce had a similar problem as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, when his finely calibrated performance was nearly undone by an overwrought climactic scene. Pierce was otherwise excellent, though, and could certainly pull a surprise upset here, but my prediction is Stephen McKinley Henderson. My hope is for either of the Topdog/Underdog actors.

Will Win: Stephen McKinley Henderson
Should Win: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
or Corey Hawkins


Annaleigh Ashford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sara Bareilles, Into the Woods
Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo
Lorna Courtney, & Juliet
Micaela Diamond, Parade

Another tough category, filled with Broadway favorites (previous Tony winners Victoria Clark and Annaleigh Ashford, and the massively popular – well-earned – Sara Bareilles), and relative newcomers near the starts of very promising Broadway careers (Micaela Diamond, whose Broadway debut in 2018’s The Cher Show gave little indication of the powerhouse display she brought to Parade), and Lorna Courtney, a delight in & Juliet.

And while Ashford found new and delightful dimensions in Sweeney‘s Mrs. Lovett, Clark, as Kimberly Akimbo‘s teenager on a very fast track to old age, is the one to beat. She’s my choice, and her heartbreaking, inspiring and funny performance is one for the ages.

Will Win: Victoria Clark
Should Win: Victoria Clark


Jessica Chastain, A Doll’s House
Jodie Comer, Prima Facie
Jessica Hecht, Summer, 1976
Audra McDonald, Ohio State Murders

Jessica Hecht was wonderful in Summer, 1976 (as was her equally deserving co-star Laura Linney), but, rather unfairly I think, David Auburn’s lovely, bittersweet and intimate two-hander has been largely overlooked by the Tony folks. And while Audra McDonald is a perennial theater-crowd favorite (she holds a record six Tonys), Adrienne Kennedy’s 1991 play Ohio State Murders proved a more noble than notable Broadway endeavor.

The competition, then, is between two big-name and excellent actresses: Jessica Chastain, who proves more than up to the challenges of Ibsen’s Nora in A Doll’s House, and Jodie Comer, who meets challenges all her own in Suzie Miller’s one-woman play Prima Facie. Comer not only locates the bravado in the character of a brilliant attorney with a reputation for successfully defending rapists, but the devastation when the character becomes a victim – and survivor – herself. In lesser hands, Prima Facie could become less a case study in memorable stage drama than worthy message-making. For me, that gives her a very slight edge over Chastain.

Will Win (But Too Close To Call): Jessica Chastain or Jodie Comer
Should Win: Jodie Comer


Into the Woods
Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Last summer, the prospect that any musical revival would top the Broadway transfer of Encores! Into the Woods seemed unlikely. But then Michael Arden’s Parade came along, as much a revitalization as a revival of a work that finally got the love it’s long deserved.

But there’s another “but” in this equation: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Spellbinding, gorgeous and powerful from start to finish, this is the best revival of the season, musical or non-musical. Parade still might edge out a win, but Sweeney gets my vote.

Will Win: Parade
Should Win: Sweeney Todd


August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson
A Doll’s House
The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog

Director Anne Kauffman (and the unjustly snubbed stars Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan) did a more than commendable job getting Lorraine Hansberry’s unwieldy but frequently compelling The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window onto a Broadway stage. And LaTanya Richardson Jackson’s starry revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson did justice to that classic play if adding little that previous productions didn’t already reveal. The competition, then, comes down to Jamie Lloyd’s stark, modernist staging of A Doll’s House (adapted by writer Amy Herzog) and director Kenny Leon’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog. I loved both productions, for different reasons, the Ibsen for its mesmerizing, chilly beauty and the Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog for its sheer, visceral, grab-you-by-the-throat emotional intensity. I’ll lean into the latter.

Will Win: A Doll’s House
Should Win: Topdog/Underdog


& Juliet
Kimberly Akimbo
New York, New York
Some Like It Hot

Shucked was this Broadway season’s little musical that could, an unassuming, pun-filled musical that arrived in New York City heralded only by some corny – literally – subway posters and vague rumors of a Hee Haw-like parody. Except it wasn’t (isn’t) a parody, it’s a loving homage to a comedic rural tradition that stretches back to Green Acres (don’t sneer), golden age radio and vaudeville. It’s a delight, and deserves its place in this distinguished company.

Then there’s Some Like It Hot, a musical adaptation of the 1959 classic film comedy that arrived in town with an even bigger marketing problem than the mysterious Shucked. Stage adaptations of beloved films have a pretty miserable ratio of commercial success, and they typically fare even worse with critics (see Almost Famous, or not). But here it is, more charming, engaging, relevant and downright lovely than it has any right to be. Director Casey Nicholaw gives the musical the same comic allure he brought to The Prom, and the music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, and book by Matthew López and Amber Ruffin are all joys.

In any other year, either Some Like It Hot or Shucked could lay legitimate claim to the Tony for Best Musical. But this year, there’s Kimberly Akimbo, one of the finest, most enchanting musicals to hit Broadway in a decade, right up there with Hadestown, and that’s as high a praise as I know.

Will Win: Kimberly Akimbo
Should Win: Kimberly Akimbo


Ain’t No Mo’ by Jordan E. Cooper
Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
Fat Ham by James Ijames
Leopoldstadt by Tom Stoppard

Jordan E. Cooper’s bold Ain’t No Mo’ came and went far too quickly on Broadway, but the producers’ decision to stage the surreal, farcical and poignant comedy about the Black experience as narrated by a drag queen flight attendant remains as daring as Cooper’s vision itself. I’d be tempted to give it a “Should Win” if it wasn’t for, well, more about that shortly.

The nominations of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy, James Ijames’ Fat Ham and Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living have already put this year’s Tonys into the record books: Never before have three Best Play contenders landed in this category with Pulitzer Prizes already in tow. Tony voters can – and do – argue over the whys and wherefores of the Pulitzers, but I’d guess the Pulitzer pedigrees won’t carry much weight this year. Cost of Living, in particular, is the longest of shots.

As with the Best Musical category, two of the nominees could, in any other year, be front-runners: Both Between Riverside and Crazy and Fat Ham were lively and tough-minded comedy-dramas that merit whatever praise they have coming. But this is the year of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, a breathtaking, expansive and utterly wrenching drama about the decimation of a large, wealthy Viennese Jewish family before, during and after the Holocaust. Leopoldstadt is another – possibly the final – entry in the catalog of one of our greatest living playwrights. I can’t imagine this won’t be his year.

Will Win: Leopoldstadt
Should Win: Leopoldstadt

The 76th Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, airs on CBS Sunday, June 11, live from the United Palace theater in New York City’s Washington Heights, 8-11 p.m. ET/5-8 p.m. PT. In addition to CBS, the ceremony streams live and on demand on Paramount+.

A live, 90-minute pre-show, The Tony Awards: Act One, hosted by Julianne Hough and Skylar Astin begins at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The pre-show will be available for free on Pluto TV via smart TVs, streaming devices, mobile apps and online by going to Pluto TV and clicking on the “Pluto TV Celebrity” channel. No payment, registration or sign-in is required.

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