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Predictions: Which Actors in Plays Are Going to Win a Tony in 2022?

Our critics predict the winners of the 2022 Tony Awards.

Voting for the 2022 Tony Awards is now open, and the winners will be announced in a live televised ceremony on Sunday, June 12. Yesterday, our critics predicted which actors would win Tony Awards in the musical acting categories. Today, they turn their attention to actors appearing in plays. Here are their predictions:

Will Jesse Williams win a Tony in his Broadway debut?
(© Joan Marcus)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

THE NOMINEES:
Alfie Allen, Hangmen
Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out
Ron Cephas Jones, Clyde's
Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out
Jesse Williams, Take Me Out

David Gordon:
Will win: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Should win: Chuck Cooper

If the Tonys were in December, I would have picked Chuck Cooper for his brutal and shattering monologue about witnessing a lynching as a child in Trouble in Mind. But in June, I'm going with Jesse Tyler Ferguson for his career-best work in Take Me Out as the gay accountant who learns to love baseball. It's a Tony-winning role — Denis O'Hare won for the original production — and Ferguson will follow suit.

Zachary Stewart:
Will win: Jesse Williams
Should win: Ron Cephas Jones

While I agree with David that Ferguson's performance is the more award-worthy, I suspect the sympathy vote following the leaked video of Williams's nude scene will push him over the edge to win the Tony — and might just convince him to come back in a better role. Personally, I would give the award to Ron Cephas Jones for his charming and heartfelt performance as the sandwich guru in Clyde's, but I suspect voters might overlook that long-closed play.

Hayley Levitt:
Will win: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Should win: Jesse Williams

Both Jesses do a phenomenal job in the Second Stage revival of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out. Ferguson, as accountant Mason Marzac, gets every last morsel out of Greenberg's tremendous monologues (the ones that earned Denis O'Hare a Tony back in 2003). But Williams's stoic power as baseball superstar Darren Lemming, I think, has been underappreciated this season. History will likely repeat itself, and it will be well-deserved, but I just think the monologue-deprived should get their due as well.


Will the voters remember Phylicia Rashad in Skeleton Crew?
(© Matthew Murphy)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

THE NOMINEES:
Uzo Aduba, Clyde's
Rachel Dratch, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
Kenita R. Miller, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf
Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew
Julie White, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
Kara Young, Clyde's

David Gordon:
Will win: Rachel Dratch
Should win: Kenita R. Miller

This category is an embarrassment of riches and highlights a lot of great performances from across the season. My instinct says Dratch, because her performance in POTUS is hilarious and alive — and all anyone can talk about at the end of the night. I'd love to see Miller win: she's performing a monologue eight times a week about a woman who's abusive partner throws their children out the window to their death, while being nine months pregnant in real life. It's the feat to end all feats.

Zachary Stewart:
Will win: Phylicia Rashad
Should win: Phylicia Rashad

This is one instance in which I think voters really will remember the powerful performance of an almost unrecognizable Phylicia Rashad in a play that has been closed for months. Skeleton Crew was one of the best plays of the season, and Rashad's performance as a factory worker nearing retirement was a big part of that.

Hayley Levitt:
Will win: Rachel Dratch
Should win: Kenita R. Miller

If I'm being honest, I have no idea whom this category will go to. It's an even race that I think might tip in favor of Rachel Dratch's comic genius. But as I said in my review of for colored girls…, Kenita R. Miller is giving an unforgettable performance as Lady in Red and is put through the emotional wringer every time she steps onstage. And as annoyed as I'm sure she is at everyone for dwelling on it, performing that role while nine months pregnant is superhuman.


Sam Rockwell is a favorite to win a Tony this year.
(© Richard Termine)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

THE NOMINEES:
Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy
Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy
Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy
David Morse, How I Learned to Drive
Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues
David Threlfall, Hangmen

David Gordon:
Will win: Simon Russell Beale
Should win: David Morse

Of this list, David Morse is giving the most nuanced performance and Sam Rockwell the showiest. I'd normally say the three Lehman Trilogy men would cancel each other out, but Simon Russell Beale, I think, will be the victor here. (If I had to choose a favorite of the three Lehmans, I'd pick Adam Godley for his demented dancing.)

Zachary Stewart:
Will win: Sam Rockwell
Should win: David Morse

Conversely, I predict that the three Lehman actors will cancel one another out, leaving Rockwell and Morse as the serious contenders. The voters will be dazzled by Rockwell's pull-from-a-time-machine portrayal of Teach, and his textbook perfect delivery of David Mamet's salty language. But for me, the real winner of this category is Morse, who conveys the full, complicated humanity of a character who could easily be dismissed as a villainous predator.

Hayley Levitt:
Will win: Simon Russell Beale
Should win: Simon Russell Beale (or Adam Godley, or Adrian Lester)

I couldn't begin to say who gave the best performance among the trio of actors who portrayed over 150 years worth of Lehman descendants in The Lehman Trilogy. But I do know one and/or all of them gave the best performance of the season. The Outer Critics Circle managed to single out Simon Russell Beale for their award, so my best guess is the momentum will swing his way for the Tony Awards as well. I don't see a split vote sending the trophy to another production. But you never know. Crazier things have happened at the Tonys.


Deirdre O'Connell is a favorite for our critics, but will the Tony voters agree?
(© Chad Batka)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

THE NOMINEES:
Gabby Beans, The Skin of Our Teeth
LaChanze, Trouble in Mind
Ruth Negga, Macbeth
Deirdre O'Connell, Dana H.
Mary-Louise Parker, How I Learned to Drive

David Gordon:
Will win: Mary-Louise Parker
Should win: Deirdre O'Connell

Will Mary-Louise Parker accomplish the rare feat of winning this award two years in a row? Probably, and she deserves it. I would love to see off-Broadway stalwart Deirdre O'Connell recognized for her performance in Dana H., the mechanics of which I'm still trying to figure out, but that show ran too long ago, and not long enough.

Zachary Stewart:
Will win: Mary-Louise Parker
Should win: Deirdre O'Connell
Not to take anything away from Mary-Louise Parker, who is giving a great performance in How I Learned To Drive that is likely to earn her another Tony on top of the one she won last year for The Sound Inside — but what Deirdre O'Connell did in Dana H. (which required her to lip-synch every line, breath, and vocal inflection to prerecorded audio) is so much more difficult, and requires a level of precision that few actors can attain.

Hayley Levitt:
Will win: Ruth Negga
Should win: Deirdre O'Connell

Ruth Negga got a lot of critical praise for propping up a rickety revival of Macbeth, and I think her standout performance will work in her favor with voters. Deirdre O'Connell, however, did something Broadway had never seen before in her fully lip-synched performance as the title character in Lucas Hnath's documentary play Dana H. It was a technical and dramatic feat only a veteran like O'Connell could ever dream of pulling off, and she has more than earned her time at the Radio City mic.

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