By Nate Millado
Broadway's back—and our anonymous Tony Award voter couldn't be happier about The Great White Way's glorious return. "I went to [new play] Pass Over a couple of weeks ago and everyone broke out into mad applause during the pre-show cellphone announcement!" they said. With the Tonys returning to Paramount+ on Sept. 26—and a special presentation, The Tony Awards Present Broadway's Back, airing immediately after on CBS—Watch tapped this decades-long Tony voter to get their hot takes on theater's most prestigious award. Find out who they voted for (and why), then tune in to the Tonys at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Paramount+.
"There's usually much more fanfare around the nominations. And much more buzz. This year, for a while no one even knew if the Tonys were going to happen," our voter said. "It seems like people are less obsessed with who will win/who should win and more concerned with the show simply going on."
Best Play, Best Musical, and Best Revival of a Play
Tony Goldwyn and Kyle Soller in The Inheritance.
Photo: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
Grand Horizons (Author: Bess Wohl)
The Inheritance (Author: Matthew López)
Sea Wall/A Life (Author: Simon Stephens and Nick Payne)
Slave Play (Author: Jeremy O. Harris)
The Sound Inside (Author: Adam Rapp)
"This is actually a really good crop of Best Play nominees—very strong. I think The Sound Inside is the best play Adam Rapp has ever written, and I'm a huge Bess Wohl fan. I've loved just about everything she's ever done. I thought Grand Horizons was daring and hilarious. Ultimately I voted for The Inheritance, which I thought was such a cool, creative riff on Howards End and a beautiful—and incredibly ambitious—portrayal of contemporary gay life in America. I wept. Audibly."
Jagged Little Pill
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Tina—The Tina Turner Musical
"This was a really easy one. Unlike so many people, I'm not a massive fan of Moulin Rouge the movie. But I was so taken with the musical version. Everything doesn't need to be over-the-top, but this show does, and it just works."
Best Revival of a Play
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
A Soldier's Play
"I can't tell you how many Betrayals I've seen that have left me cold. Granted, Harold Pinter isn't what you'd call a warm and fuzzy playwright, and this is a piece about adultery. Still, this Jamie Lloyd–directed production is the first one I've seen that actually left me moved."
Best Book and Best Original Score
Adrienne Warren rocks the Tina stage. Can it win Best Book?
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Best Book of a Musical
Jagged Little Pill (Diablo Cody)
Moulin Rouge! The Musical (John Logan)
Tina—The Tina Turner Musical (Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins)
"I think all of these librettists had quite a challenge given that they weren't working with original scores. I went with Tina. I thought that was the toughest story to tell, and it was done with sensitivity, care, and humor in just the right spots."
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Carol (Music: Christopher Nightingale)
The Inheritance (Music: Paul Englishby)
The Rose Tattoo (Music: Fitz Patton and Jason Michael Webb)
Slave Play (Music: Lindsay Jones)
The Sound Inside (Music: Daniel Kluger)
"Five original scores, all from plays—has that ever happened before? Crazy, right? This was where I found myself googling clips of the productions trying to find those containing music because I didn't have enough of a memory of the nominees. I hate saying that, but with the delay in nominations and then the delay in voting … my memory is good but not that good. I went with A Christmas Carol."
Lead Actor and Actress in a Play
Mary-Louise Parker in The Sound Inside.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Ian Barford, Linda Vista
Andrew Burnap, The Inheritance
Jake Gyllenhaal, Sea Wall/A Life
Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal
Tom Sturridge, Sea Wall/A Life
Blair Underwood, A Soldier's Play
"Tom Hiddleston. He wrecked me."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Joaquina Kalukango, Slave Play
Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton
Audra McDonald, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
Mary-Louise Parker, The Sound Inside
"Mary-Louise Parker. She wrecked me."
Lead Actor and Actress in a Musical
Adrienne Warren channels the legendary Tina Turner in Tina—The Tina Turner Musical.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Aaron Tveit, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
"So, 60% of voters need to tick 'yes' in order for him to win. It feels a bit like a Little League participation trophy, but I still said yes."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Karen Olivo, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill
Adrienne Warren, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical
"I don't know anyone who didn't vote for Adrienne Warren. It's an astonishing performance—so demanding vocally, physically, and emotionally. And she did it all in those sky-high heels!"
Seventh time's the charm? Danny Burstein is the favorite to win Featured Actor in a Musical.
Photo: Matthew Murphy
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Ato Blankson-Wood, Slave Play
James Cusati-Moyer, Slave Play
David Alan Grier, A Soldier's Play
John Benjamin Hickey, The Inheritance
Paul Hilton, The Inheritance
"For me, it was between the two Inheritance actors: Hilton, for playing two characters, including a time-traveling E.M. Forster, and Hickey—my eventual choice—as an emotionally unavailable billionaire gay Republican."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Jane Alexander, Grand Horizons
Chalia La Tour, Slave Play
Annie McNamara, Slave Play
Lois Smith, The Inheritance
Cora Vander Broek, Linda Vista
"Do you believe Lois Smith doesn't have a Tony Award? I hope that changes on Sept. 26."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Derek Klena, Jagged Little Pill
Sean Allan Krill, Jagged Little Pill
Sahr Ngaujah, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Daniel J. Watts, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical
"This is Danny Burstein's seventh nomination, and he's fast approaching Susan Lucci territory. It's time for him to win! Seriously, I think he's only become a more gifted and nuanced actor as his career has gone on. Moulin Rouge! is just the latest in a string of terrific performances he's given over the past decade or so."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Kathryn Gallagher, Jagged Little Pill
Celia Rose Gooding, Jagged Little Pill
Robyn Hurder, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill
Myra Lucretia Taylor, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical
"You hear the phrase 'stops the show' all the time, but it's usually just a figure of speech. Lauren Patten literally stops the show by singing 'You Oughta Know' in Jagged Little Pill. She gets a standing ovation in the middle of the show. I'm not big on standing ovations, but I was that night."
Jacqueline B. Arnold as La Chocolat, Robyn Hurder as Nini, Holly James as Arabia, and Jeigh Madjus as Baby Doll in Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Photo: Matthew Murphy
Best Direction of a Play
David Cromer, The Sound Inside
Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance
Kenny Leon, A Soldier's Play
Jamie Lloyd, Betrayal
Robert O'Hara, Slave Play
"Best director, for me, is about who had the hardest job, and who did it the best. Here, that's easily Stephen Daldry. He made a two-part, six-hour-plus play fly by—no small feat."
Best Direction of a Musical
Phyllida Lloyd, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical
Diane Paulus, Jagged Little Pill
Alex Timbers, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
"Moulin Rouge! is a big, splashy extravaganza that could easily have been a big old mess. The fact that it wasn't is entirely owing to Alex Timbers."