This time of the Broadway year is one of rapid-fire openings (and, sometimes, closings). Yet the 2014-15 crop of contenders is considered relatively deep, even in the sometimes-shallow new play and new musical categories.
The nominators will make their choices in 24 categories, with a round of campaigning and cocktail parties to follow. The awards will be handed out at Radio City Music Hall on June 7 and broadcast on CBS.
Here are five story lines to keep an eye on ahead of Tuesday’s announcements.
The new-play scrum. Two new Broadway productions, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" and "Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2" — both imports from the West End -- are shoo-ins in this closely scrutinized category. But unlike past years, there are plenty of others to choose from: Peter Morgan’s episodic drama “The Audience,” the subversive puppet piece “Hand to God,” the staging of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer-winning immigrant drama “Disgraced” and Nick Payne’s two-hander “Constellations” are top contenders for the remaining spots.
Musicality. A similarly diverse group of contenders marks best musical, which like the play category could feature four or five nominees depending on how close voting is. The graphic novel adaptation “Fun Home,” the meta-musical comedy “Something Rotten!” and the international World War II love story “An American in Paris” (adapted from the 1951 Gene Kelly-Leslie Caron film) are almost certain to land nominations.
But what show will nab the remaining slot(s) in what is widely regarded as the Tonys' top prize? There’s Chita Rivera’s long-gestating effort to bring the dark Kander and Ebb piece “The Visit” to Broadway, the frothier Tony Danza effort “Honeymoon in Vegas" and even Harvey Weinstein’s creative-producing debut, the J.M. Barrie tale “Finding Neverland” all in the mix. (Lin-Manuel Miranda's much-buzzed about Public Theater production of "Hamilton" is not eligible; it's not coming to Broadway until the summer.) Already Weinstein has upped the ante. On Monday he issued a letter from a Harvard professor on the appeal of Peter Pan, doing what other savvy campaigners do -- bring in outsiders in the hope of garnering attention and support from the nominators, who meet Monday.
Diva dipping. A full-on smackdown will likely happen in the actress in a musical category, as it has several times in recent years, though perhaps never quite like this. Rivera will almost certainly be nominated, likely up against “Paris’” Leanne Cope and a pair of big names in revivals, Kelli O’Hara in “The King and I” and Kristin Chenoweth in “On the Twentieth Century.” That’s a starry field and leaves “Neverland’s” Laura Michelle Kelly and Lisa Howard from “It Shoulda Been You” to scramble for the remaining slot.
Finding closure. Every year, a show that has long been shuttered makes a surprising surge at the nominations. “Vegas” could pull that off this year if it lands a slot in best musical, and Danza is in the running for a actor in a musical. Sting’s “The Last Ship,” regarded as a commercial and critical failure, could be a dark horse in several musical categories.
It will be interesting to see what kind of momentum “Side Show,” the Bill Condon-directed musical revival about conjoined twins, can muster. Despite strong reviews, the show closed less than two months after opening this year. The production’s Tonys narrative includes this unusual subplot: It’s possible that between the two actresses who play the twins, Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, only one will be nominated.
Male machinations. Sure, acting veterans like Nathan Lane (“It’s Only a Play”), Billy Nighy (“Skylight”), Bradley Cooper (“The Elephant Man”), Ben Miles (“Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two”) and John Lithgow (“A Delicate Balance”) are in contention for best actor in a play. But so are the young-uns and upstarts, 35-year-old Steven Boyer (“Hand to God”), 34-year-old Jake Gyllenhaal (“Constellations”) and 26-year-old Alex Sharp (“Curious Incident,” his first Broadway role). Problem is, there are only five spots. Will it be veterans or newbies left out?