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Who’ll win at the Tonys, and who should

Victoria Clark and Justin Cooley in the musical “Kimberly Akimbo,” a strong contender for best musical.SARA KRULWICH/NYT

The show must go on — and it will. After being imperiled by the Writers Guild of America strike, the Tony Awards will indeed celebrate the best of Broadway Sunday night. Under an agreement with the screenwriters union, there will be no script, so expect a bit of chaos, ad-libbing, and lots of spontaneous moments from the presenters and the show’s charismatic host, Oscar winner Ariana DeBose. For readers keeping score at home, here’s a glance at the contenders in the main categories and our predictions.


Will/should win: “Kimberly Akimbo”

Also nominated: “Some Like It Hot,” “Shucked,” “& Juliet,” “New York, New York”


“& Juliet” weaves together the infectious pop anthems of Swedish hitmaker Max Martin (“Since U Been Gone,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling”) into a clever feminist spin on Shakespeare, but the show can feel as synthetic and jejune as its disposable earworms. Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York” boasts dynamic performances from Colton Ryan and Anna Uzele and a roof-raising rendition of the ubiquitous ode to the city that never sleeps, but its edginess is ersatz. A sharp, ebullient adaptation of the classic 1959 film “Some Like It Hot,” in which two Chicago musicians flee mob hitmen by posing as women, expands the movie’s coy-yet-subversive exploration of gender into a full-blown awakening. The upstart underdog “Shucked” is a rollicking good time with its parade of puns, double entendres, and deadpan one-liners. But the season’s best show is “Kimberly Akimbo,” about a teenage girl suffering from a rapid-aging disease and her budding friendship with a nerdy, anagram-loving classmate. Created by South Boston native David Lindsay-Abaire (“Good People”) and composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home”), this masterful musical shifts seamlessly between wildly profane comedy, antic absurdity, and heart-rending poignancy.

A scene from "Leopoldstadt."Joan Marcus


Will win: “Leopoldstadt”

Should win: “Fat Ham”


Also nominated: “Cost of Living,” “Between Riverside and Crazy,” “Ain’t No Mo’ ”

This category boasts three previous Pulitzer Prize winners for Drama: Martyna Majok’s wrenching yet unsentimental caregiver drama “Cost of Living,” starring two actors with disabilities; Stephen Adly Guirgis’s searing morality play “Between Riverside and Crazy,” exploring paradoxes about racism, police violence, and victimhood; and James Ijames’s “Fat Ham,” a fierce, funny, and moving spin on “Hamlet,” set at a backyard barbecue and centering a queer character who is grappling with trauma and toxic masculinity. There’s also Jordan E. Cooper’s biting “Ain’t No Mo’,” a series of sharply satirical vignettes about race and America. The Tony for best play, though, will be a showdown between “Fat Ham” and Tom Stoppard’s generation-spanning family saga, “Leopoldstadt,” a self-interrogating exploration of his Jewish roots and identity. With its shattering glimpse at rising antisemitism and creeping authoritarianism, look for “Leopoldstadt” to emerge the winner.

Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford in “Sweeney Todd.” SARA KRULWICH/NYT


Will win: “Sweeney Todd”

Should win: “Into the Woods”

Also nominated: “Parade,” “Camelot”

Lerner & Loewe’s “Camelot,” with a rewritten book by Hollywood heavyweight Aaron Sorkin, has gotten a mixed reception. Jason Robert Brown’s “Parade,” about a Jewish man lynched after being accused of killing a young girl, feels resonant at a time of resurgent antisemitism, and it could spring an upset. The buzziest remounts of the season were two Stephen Sondheim masterpieces. The fractured fairy-tales mash-up “Into the Woods,” whose direct-from-Broadway tour came to Boston in March, was last year’s must-see event. The hot ticket this spring is the Josh Groban-headlined “Sweeney Todd,” the Grand Guignol operetta about “the demon barber of Fleet Street.” This “Sweeney” remains a dark, psychosexual chiller. But it’s director Lear deBessonet’s stripped-down, deeply poignant “Into the Woods” that should triumph, thanks to its timely emphasis on community and cooperation in the face of obstacles and collective trauma.


Corey Hawkins (left) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in "Topdog/Underdog."Marc J. Franklin


Will win: “Topdog/Underdog”

Should win: “A Doll’s House”

Also nominated: “The Piano Lesson,” “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”

A rare revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” made a late-breaking transfer to Broadway starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan, but apparently hasn’t caught fire with voters. August Wilson’s 1987 ghost story “The Piano Lesson” centered on a family haunted by a piano that links them to their ancestors but could also be a conduit to a more promising future. Suzan-Lori Parks’s 2001 masterpiece “Topdog/Underdog” is a dance of dashed dreams, identity, and self-deception, with two hustler siblings putting on an act and conning each other — and themselves. But the winner here could be Jamie Lloyd’s spare revival of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” which boasts a raw, modern adaptation by Amy Herzog and a turntable stage that shifts perspective and keeps knocking the characters — and audiences — off balance.

Victoria Clark (third from left) plays a teenager who suffers from a rapid-aging disease in the musical "Kimberly Akimbo."Joan Marcus


Will/should win: Victoria Clark, “Kimberly Akimbo”

Also nominated: Annaleigh Ashford, “Sweeney Todd”; Sara Bareilles, “Into the Woods”; Micaela Diamond, “Parade”; Lorna Courtney, “& Juliet”


Courtney gives a knockout performance as a reimagined Juliet forging her own path without her famous other half. Diamond is deeply moving as a naive wife awakened to the realities of antisemitism. Bareilles delivered a funny, heartbreaking Baker’s Wife. Ashford is one of the two frontrunners, with a hilarious performance as meat pie-making Mrs. Lovett, cranking up the bawdy, madcap comedy that disguises its darkness. But this award belongs to Clark, a Tony winner in 2005 for “The Light in the Piazza.” She paints a wrenching yet life-affirming portrait of a shy, awkward teenager grappling with dysfunctional parents and her imminent mortality.

J. Harrison Ghee (center right) and Kevin Del Aguila (center left) in “Some Like It Hot.” SARA KRULWICH/NYT


Will/should win: J. Harrison Ghee, “Some Like It Hot”

Also nominated: Josh Groban, “Sweeney Todd”; Christian Borle, “Some Like It Hot”; Ben Platt, “Parade”; Bryan d’Arcy James, “Into the Woods”; Colton Ryan, “New York, New York”

Two-time Tony winner Borle and four-time nominee James are at the top of their games. But along with dynamic up-and-comer Ryan, they’ll be runners-up in this category. Platt, as Leo Frank, a factory manager falsely accused of murder and a victim of antisemitism, could be a contender. But this category is likely a showdown between Groban’s charming but chilling Sweeney, a man wracked by grief over the loss of his wife and daughter, and Ghee’s euphoric transformation from Jerry to Daphne, skillfully tracing the character’s awakening and embrace of feminine identity, punctuated by the coming-out showstopper “You Coulda Knocked Me Over with a Feather.”

Jodie Comer is a leading contender for best actress in a play for "Prima Facie."Helen Murray/The Press Room via AP



Will win: Jodie Comer, “Prima Facie”

Should win: Jessica Chastain, “A Doll’s House”

Also nominated: Audra McDonald, “The Ohio State Murders”; Jessica Hecht, “Summer, 1976″

Hecht delivers a perfectly calibrated performance in David Auburn’s two-hander about an unlikely friendship between two women. In 91-year-old playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s long-awaited Broadway debut, McDonald (the most decorated Tony performer of all time) offered a bone-deep portrayal of a Black writer looking back at the racial trauma she suffered as a college student. In a raw, revelatory turn as Ibsen’s heroine Nora Helmer, Chastain charts the awakening of an oppressed housewife, and the Oscar winner could pull an upset. But it’s Emmy-winning “Killing Eve” star Comer, for her acclaimed solo turn as a defense lawyer and sexual assault survivor, who’s the frontrunner.

Sean Hayes and Emily Bergl in "Good Night, Oscar.” SARA KRULWICH/NYT


Will win: Sean Hayes, “Good Night, Oscar”

Should win: Stephen McKinley Henderson, “Between Riverside and Crazy”

Also nominated: Wendell Pierce, “Death of a Salesman”; Corey Hawkins, “Topdog/Underdog”; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, “Topdog/Underdog”

Hawkins and Abdul-Mateen were riveting as a pair of card-playing brothers in “Topdog/Underdog.” Pierce (“The Wire,” “Jack Ryan”) deserves more traction for his wrenching portrait of Willy Loman in last fall’s sterling revival of “Salesman.” But this race is shaping up as a face-off between Henderson and Hayes. Veteran theater favorite Henderson, who’s gone on to memorable screen parts in “Fences” and “Dune,” could grab the gold for his prickly performance as a combative Black cop suing the NYPD after being shot by a white officer. But as wisecracking Oscar Levant, a concert pianist and 1950s TV staple, Hayes boldly departs from his Emmy-winning role as the flamboyant Jack on “Will & Grace” to capture the anguish, addictions, and troubled psyche behind Levant’s mordant wit.

Christopher Wallenberg can be reached at