AP theater critic predicts Sunday night's Tony Award winners

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NEW YORK >> It was a season on Broadway that was bursting — looking backward, to the future, shaking up old ideas and introducing some bright new stars. It will be the season of "Hamilton," but there was beautiful work all around. The Associated Press tries to predict some of this year's Tony Award winners.

The awards will be broadcast live on CBS-TV (WRGB, Channel 6. Schenectady, N.Y.; WSHM, Channel 3, Springfield) from the Beacon Theatre in New York at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Best musical

• Will win: "Hamilton"

• Should win: "Hamilton"

Are you kidding?

Best play

• Will win: "The Humans"

• Should win: "Eclipsed"

Stephen Karam's Pulitzer Prize finalist is a wrenching look at our anxiety-riddled American lives, but Danai Gurira's play about sexual captives in Liberia transcends culture, race, gender and geopolitics to deliver a soul-stirring show. Also kudos to "King Charles III," a modern political thriller.

Revival — play

• Will win: "A View From the Bridge"

• Should win: "A View From the Bridge"

Director Ivo van Hove this fall stripped Arthur Miller's dark, classic tale and made it vibrant. The barefoot cast members warily circled each other in a revival that shocked and moved. It raised the bar for what a reinvention can be. "Blackbird" is close behind, a wrenching confrontation between tortured souls.

Revival — musical

• Will win: "The Color Purple"

• Should win: "Fiddler on the Roof"

John Doyle triumphantly directs the musical adaptation of Alice Walker's novel with huge voices — Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson — and minimal sets. It's an amazing tale of redemption. Not too far away, Bartlett Sher and his team have made in "Fiddler" one of the last great musicals of Broadway's Golden Age urgent and inclusive.

Actor — play

• Will win: Frank Langella

• Should win: Mark Strong

Langella will likely win his fourth Tony Award for playing a man who has begun a slide down the slippery slope of dementia in "The Father." Another actor — Mark Strong in a smashing revival of "A View from the Bridge" — also unraveled onstage and his collapse was arguably more poignant and sad.

Actress — play

• Will win: Jessica Lange

• Should win: Lupita Nyong'o

Lange plays a drug-addled mother in the revival of the monumental "Long Day's Journey Into Night" with tons of delicacy and neediness. But Oscar-winner Nyong'o made her Broadway debut in a cheap cloth skirt and filthy "Rugrats" T-shirt. She then proceeds to mature in front of our eyes as the spine of "Eclipsed."

Actor — musical

• Will win: Danny Burstein

• Should win: Leslie Odom Jr.

Burstein's Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" is earthy and soulful and the actor has been a Broadway favorite. His sixth Tony nomination should result in his first win. But who can wipe away the memory of Odom in "Hamilton?" His portrait of Aaron Burr in "Hamilton" — coiled, lurking, repressed— is transformative. His way with "The Room Where It Happens" is brilliant.

Actress — musical

• Will win: Cynthia Erivo

• Should win: Cynthia Erivo

A strong year for women on Broadway has resulted in a category stocked with outstanding performances. Jessie Mueller is honest and grounded in "Waitress," Laura Benanti is luminous in "She Loves Me," Carmen Cusack works so hard in "Bright Star" and Phillipa Soo is marvelous in "Hamilton," but Erivo puts her heart, soul and every fiber into "The Color Purple."


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