(USA Today) A few familiar (and deserving) names may have gotten the shaft when this year's Tony Award nominations were announced, but some widely loved stars — and works — are among the contenders for Broadway's biggest prize Sunday night. USA TODAY's Elysa Gardner surveys the field and offers observations and predictions.
Act One (by James Lapine), All The Way (Robert Schenkkan), Casa Valentina(Harvey Fierstein), Mothers and Sons (Terrence McNally), Outside Mullingar (John Patrick Shanley)
Should win: Valentina is the most consistently absorbing, and surprising, of the bunch.
Will win: Bryan Cranston's flamboyant star turn as LBJ will propel All The Way, as it already has to several other awards.
After Midnight, Aladdin, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Should win: Midnight is a gorgeous revue, but the breezy book musical Aladdin is distinctly charming and disarming, for audiences of all ages.
Will win: There's building momentum for Beautiful, but the clever and critically adoredGentleman's Guide will prevail.
Best revival of a play
The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun, Twelfth Night
Should/will win: All four productions were imaginatively directed and magnificently acted; but a win for Menagerie would, and likely will, mark the first for a staging of theTennessee Williams classic (which originally premiered before the awards were established).
Best revival of musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Miserables, Violet
Should/will win: This Hedwig turns a cult favorite into one of the season's most crowd-pleasing and ferociously entertaining productions.
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play
Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night; Bryan Cranston, All the Way; Chris O'Dowd, Of MIce and Men; Mark Rylance, Richard III; Tony Shalhoub, Act One
Should win: Shalhoub juggles three roles with sublime wit, insight and compassion.
Will win: Cranston
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons; LaTanya Richardson, A Raisin in the Sun; Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie; Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill;Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn
Should win: A close race: Richardson, who is splendid, has a chance, though it'll likely be neck and neck between McDonald's Billie Holiday and Jones' Amanda Wingfield. Both were daring, but Jones' was revelatory.
Will win: McDonald
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Ramin Karimloo, Les Miserables; Andy Karl, Rocky; Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder; Bryce Pinkham,A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Should/will win: Harris's star power - both generally and specifically in this performance, the most powerful of his career -- will let him trump his talented competitors.
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical
Mary Bridget Davies, A Night With Janis Joplin; Sutton Foster, Violet; Idina Menzel,If/Then; Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Kelli O'Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Should/will win: Still-rising star Mueller's touching, funny, utterly authentic portrait of an adored artist gives her the edge over the formidable vets here - though O'Hara, who (astonishingly) has never won a Tony, could manage an upset.
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina; Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night; Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night; Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night; Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
Should win: Smith brought naturalism to this Menagerie without disrupting its dream-like vibe; he spent less time on stage than his castmates, but was just as haunting.
Will win: Rylance, who could probably walk on stage, blow bubbles and win a Tony.
Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play
Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan; Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie; Sophie Okenedo, A Raisin in the Sun; Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun; Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina
Should/will win: Another close race, but Okonedo and Rose, both fabulous, will cancel each other out, easing the path for the Keenan-Bolger, who was heartbreaking.
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret; Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway; Joshua Henry, Violet; James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin; Jarrod Spector, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Should/will win: Monroe, Aladdin's exuberant, show-stopping Genie, is this year's safest bet.
Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical
Lina Emond, Cabaret; Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Adriane Lenox, After Midnight; Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Should/will win: Emond, a widely admired veteran has never won a Tony -- and delivers more nuanced, potent work here -- will win by a nose over Hall, a hugely gifted vocal chameleon with a bright future.
Best direction of a play
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night; Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan; Kenny Leon,A Raisin in the Sun; John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie
Should/will win: Leon and Tiffany both breathed brand new life into 20th century classics, but Tiffany was more prominently celebrated for having done so.
Best direction of a musical
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight; Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Leigh Silverman, Violet; Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Should/will win: Mayer guided a beloved star to his best work to date -- and won over many purists who couldn't separate Hedwig from her creator, John Cameron Mitchell.
Best book of a musical
Aladdin (Chad Beguelin), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Douglas McGrath);Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen); A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (Robert L. Freedman)
Should win: Gentleman's Guide and Aladdin are both great fun, but the latter blends blithe wackiness with a feel-good message, without getting overly sappy -- no mean feat.
Will win: Gentleman's Guide
Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater
Aladdin (music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin); The Bridges of Madison County (music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown);A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (music by Steven Lutvak; lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak; If/Then (music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Brian Yorkey)
Should win: If/Then has ambition and beauty, but Aladdin holds up best tune for tune (even if some of the tunes aren't new).
Will win: Bridges has ambition as well -- and, more importantly, some high-profile champions.
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight; Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine, Rocky; Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin; Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway
Should/will win: Carlyle's elegant, effervescent dance routines help make Midnight a unique treat.