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Tony predictions 2018: Our critic's picks for who should, will win

Tony nominee Ethan Slater soaks up the spotlight

Tony nominee Ethan Slater soaks up the spotlight playing the title role in "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical." Credit: Joan Marcus

In a season focused on pop-culture icons, from Harry Potter and SpongeBob SquarePants to Tina Fey's contingent of "Mean Girls," it's a tight race when it comes to picking Tony winners. The only sure thing, in my book, is that Glenda Jackson will take best actress, honoring not just her performance but also her return to the stage after serving in Britain's Parliament for two decades.

The magical, two-part "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is the probable winner for best play; it's a tighter race for best musical, where the critically praised "The Band's Visit," which opened early in the season, is getting challenged by "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical" and "Mean Girls."

Here's a look at who should win/who will win in some of the top categories.

BEST MUSICAL

"The Band's Visit"

"Frozen"

"Mean Girls"

"SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical"

SHOULD WIN The quiet intensity and charm of "The Band's Visit" will prove irresistible.

WILL WIN "The Band's Visit"

BEST PLAY

"The Children"

"Farinelli and the King"

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

"Junk"

"Latin History for Morons"

SHOULD WIN Harry Potter has taken over the world; why not Broadway?

WILL WIN "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

BEST REVIVAL, MUSICAL

"Carousel"

"My Fair Lady"

"Once on This Island"

SHOULD WIN The lavish "My Fair Lady," if only for its twist that brings the classic into the #MeToo era.

WILL WIN "Carousel" might pull it out, but I'm sticking with Eliza and Henry.

BEST REVIVAL, PLAY

"Angels in America"

"The Iceman Cometh"

"Lobby Hero"

"Three Tall Women"

"Travesties"

SHOULD WIN Close call here. I'd be happy to give it to "Angels in America" or "Three Tall Women," but I voted for "Angels."

WILL WIN Total tossup, but if I must, I'll go with "Angels."

ACTOR, PLAY

Andrew Garfield, "Angels in America"

Tom Hollander, "Travesties"

Jamie Parker, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

Mark Rylance, "Farinelli and the King"

Denzel Washington, "The Iceman Cometh"

SHOULD WIN  Andrew Garfield for his riveting portrayal of a man fighting disease and demons.

WILL WIN Denzel Washington, because Broadway loves star power.

ACTRESS, PLAY

Glenda Jackson, "Three Tall Women"

Condola Rashad, "Saint Joan"

Lauren Ridloff, "Children of a Lesser God"

Amy Schumer, "Meteor Shower"

SHOULD WIN The perfect welcome-back gift for the acting royalty that is Glenda Jackson.

WILL WIN Jackson

ACTOR, MUSICAL

Harry Hadden-Paton, "My Fair Lady"

Joshua Henry, "Carousel"

Ethan Slater, "SpongeBob SquarePants"

Tony Shalhoub, "The Band's Visit"

SHOULD WIN Ethan Slater, who rings every ounce of delight possible from his portrayal of a lowly sea creature.

WILL WIN Joshua Henry, for his pure emotional wallop as the conflicted Billy Bigelow.

ACTRESS, MUSICAL

Lauren Ambrose, "My Fair Lady"

Hailey Kilgore, "Once on This Island"

LaChanze, "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical"

Katrina Lenk, "The Band's Visit"

Taylor Louderman, "Mean Girls"

Jessie Mueller, "Carousel"

SHOULD WIN The husky-voiced, mesmerizing Lenk, who hypnotized audiences with her ode to Omar Sharif.

WILL WIN Ambrose, the surprise choice to take on one of musical theater's most beloved roles.

FEATURED ACTOR, PLAY

Anthony Boyle, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

Michael Cera, "Lobby Hero"

Brian Tyree Henry, "Lobby Hero"

Nathan Lane, "Angels in America"

David Morse, "The Iceman Cometh"

SHOULD WIN Boyle, who brings a surprising warmth to his Scorpius Malfoy. 

WILL WIN Lane (see above re star power)

FEATURED ACTRESS PLAY

Susan Brown, "Angels in America"

Noma Dumezweni, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" 

Deborah Findlay, “The Children"

Denise Gough, "Angels in America""

Laurie Metcalf, "Three Tall Women"

SHOULD WIN Metcalf, the put-upon caretaker of "Three Tall Women," who as far as I'm concerned can do no wrong when she's on stage.

WILL WIN Dumezweni, for her tough but loving portrayal of Hermione Granger as a grown-up.

FEATURED ACTOR, MUSICAL

Norbert Leo Butz, "My Fair Lady"

Alexander Gemignani, "Carousel"

Grey Henson, "Mean Girls"

Gavin Lee, "SpongeBob SquarePants"

Ari’el Stachel,  "The Band's Visit"

SHOULD WIN For the most aerobic version ever of "Get Me to the Church on Time," Butz deserves it.

WILL WIN Butz

FEATURED ACTRESS, MUSICAL

Ariana DeBose, "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical"

Renée Fleming, "Carousel"

Lindsay Mendez, "Carousel"

Ashley Park, "Mean Girls"

Diana Rigg, "My Fair Lady"

SHOULD WIN Mendez deserves it for bringing some necessary lightness to this tough show.   

WILL WIN The nostalgia vote will probably give it to Rigg.

DIRECTION, PLAY

Marianne Elliott, "Angels in America"

Joe Mantello, "Three Tall Women"

Patrick Marber, "Travesties"

John Tiffany, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

George C. Wolfe, "The Iceman Cometh"

SHOULD WIN  Another tough call, but let's give it to Tiffany for his part in bringing such a magical experience to Broadway.

WILL WIN Tiffany

DIRECTION, MUSICAL

Michael Arden, "Once on This Island" 

David Cromer, "The Band's Visit"

Tina Landau, "SpongeBob SquarePants"

Casey Nicholaw, "Mean Girls"

Bartlett Sher, "My Fair Lady"

SHOULD WIN I would cheerfully give it to any one of these nominees, but my vote went to Landau for the pure deliciousness that is "SpongeBob."

WILL WIN Sher, who came up with a tweak that updated the story in such a relevant way. 

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