Final Tony Predictions: Best Play — ‘Leopoldstadt’ Expected to Triumph Over ‘Fat Ham’

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages reflect the current standings in the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any individual contender. As other formal (and informal) polls suggest, competitions are fluid and subject to change based on buzz and events. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

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UPDATED: June 8, 2023

2023 Tony Predictions:
Best Play

Fat Ham
“Fat Ham” at the Public Theater.

Weekly Commentary: In the race for best play, Tom Stoppard’s “Leopoldstadt” has a lot going for it. Many consider it the most accessible and moving play ever written by Stoppard, a playwright of rare stature who’s one of the few marquee-name writers that Broadway has. It’s a sweeping, bustling production with a large cast and an epic scope, and since it opened in October, it’s been enough of a box office draw (particularly in the fall, when the show regularly grossed more than $1 million a week) that it’s become one of the rare plays to run a lot longer than 16 weeks. It’s also already taken the top award at the Drama Desks, the Outer Critics and the Drama League. For a lot of voters, “Leopoldstadt” is the choice.

But every play in this strong category has admirers, and one, in particular, has emerged as the nominee that might pull off an upset. That’s “Fat Ham,” James Ijames’ Pulitzer-winning riff on “Hamlet.” It’s a show that smartly weaves themes of queer identity and legacies of violence into a Shakespearean tragedy and somehow never loses its raucous sense of humor. Most who voted for it still expect “Leopoldstadt” to win, but enough people seemed to have checked that box that it just might claim the prize.

In the final accounting, “Leopoldstadt” still looks like the leader — but “Fat Ham” is coming up fast on its heels.

Gordon Cox’s Picks
Will win: “Leopoldstadt”
Could win: “Fat Ham”
Should win: “Fat Ham”
Should Have Been Nominated: “Prima Facie”

Clayton Davis’ Picks
Will win: “Leopoldstadt”
Could win: “Fat Ham”

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Tony Awards predictions in all categories.

The 76th Annual Tony Awards are scheduled for June 11, 2023, at the United Palace in New York City. It will air on CBS and Paramount+ and produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, with the latter also serving as the director.

And the Nominees Are:

  1. Leopoldstadt” (Longacre Theatre)
    Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Roy Furman, Lorne Michaels, Stephanie P. McClelland, Gavin Kalin, Delman Sloan, Eilene Davidson, Brad Edgerton, Patrick Gracey, Hunter Arnold, Burnt Umber Productions, Cue to Cue Productions, The Factor Gavin Partnership, Harris Rubin Productions, Robert Nederlander, Jr., No Guarantees, Sandy Robertson, Iris Smith, Jamie deRoy/Catherine Adler, Dodge Hall Productions/Waverly Productions, Ricardo Hornos/Robert Tichio, Heni Koenigsberg/Wendy Federman, Thomas S. Perakos/Stephanie Kramer, Brian Spector/Judith Seinfeld and Richard Winkler & Alan Shorr

  2. Fat Ham” (American Airlines Theatre)
    Produced by No Guarantees, Public Theater Productions, Rashad V. Chambers, National Black Theatre, Tim Levy, Bards on Broadway, Bob Boyett, Ghostbuster Productions, James Ijames, Cynthia Stroum, Audible, Adam Cohen, Blake DeVillier, Firemused Productions/JamRock Productions, The Forstalls, Iconic Vizion/Corey Brunish, John Gore Organization, Midnight Theatricals, David Miner, Robin Gorman Newman/PickleStar Theatricals, Marc Platt, Play on Shakespeare, The Wilma Theater, Colman Domingo and Cynthia Erivo; Produced in association with Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director/CEO; Sydney Beers: Executive Producer; Steve Dow: Chief Administrative Officer; Christopher Nave, CFRE, Chief Advancement Officer); Presenting the production by The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director; Mandy Hackett, Director of Public Theater Productions) and National Black Theatre (Sade Lythcott, CEO; Jonathan McCrory, Executive Artistic Director); Associate Producer: Leah Matthes and Maya Maniar

  3. Cost of Living” (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)
    Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer); Produced in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival (Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director)

  4. Between Riverside and Crazy” (Hayes Theater)
    Produced by Second Stage Theater (Carole Rothman, President & Artistic Director; Khady Kamara, Executive Director); Presenting the production by Atlantic Theater Company

  5. Ain’t No Mo’” (Belasco Theatre)
    Produced by Lee Daniels, BET: Black Entertainment Television, Len Blavatnik, Ron Burkle, Aryeh B. Bourkoff, 59th & Prairie Entertainment, RuPaul Charles, I’ll Have Another Productions, Jeremy O. Harris, Lena Waithe, Tucker Tooley Entertainment, CJ Uzomah, Ann Cox, Gina Purlia, Bob Yari, Marvin Peart, Colleen Camp, Marvet Britto, Jeremy Green, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Jillian Robbins and The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director; Mandy Hackett, Director of Public Theater Productions)

All Eligible Shows (Unranked)

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About the Tony Awards

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, better known as the Tony Awards, is given out annually by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, recognizing excellence in live Broadway theatre. The ceremony, held annually in New York City, was founded by theatre producer and director Brock Pemberton and is named after Antoinette “Tony” Perry, an actress, producer and theatre director who was co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

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