On Sunday, the 71st annual Tony Awards will take over Radio City Music Hall, where the best of Broadway will be awarded the highest honor in U.S. theater — the equivalent of television's Emmy award, music's Grammy award, and the film industry's Oscar award (though arguably harder to score).
The Super Bowl for the Broadway community, the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre (as they're known by their full name) are co-presented each year in June by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. They mark the celebratory end of the previous theater season.
Here's everything you need to know about the big show.
How Does One Get Nominated and Who Votes?
To be eligible, a play or musical produced in one of the 41 officially recognized Broadway venues must open by a predetermined cutoff date — usually the end of April. A show is only eligible in the season it first opens, no matter how long it runs on Broadway. (Sorry, "Wicked.")
After nominations are announced in May, some 846 voters — a mix of actors, directors, choreographers, press agents, managers, and other industry folks — spend the next month attending all nominated productions to cast their final ballot. Voters are expected to refrain from voting in any category in which they have not seen all of the nominees.
Who's Nominated This Year?
Aside from the acting categories, where the potential EGOT winners tend to pop up, the Tonys top awards are Best Musical and Best Play.
On the Best Musical front, four shows are competing for the top prize, with "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812" — the immersive musical inspired by a 70-page section of "War and Peace" — leading this year's nominations with 12 in total, including acting honors for stars Josh Groban and "UnReal" alum Denée Benton.
Behind it with 9 nominations is the teen tearjerker "Dear Evan Hansen," whose composers (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) also picked up an Oscar for their lyrics to La La Land‘s “City of Stars.” It'll battle for Best Musical against the musical stage adaptation of the beloved 1993 comedy "Groundhog Day" and the 9/11 musical "Come From Away" — which tells the inspiring true story of how some of the thousands of airline travelers diverted to the Canadian small town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the wake of the terrorist attacks grieved through modern American history's most tragic event.
Meanwhile, the four plays up for Best Play — "A Doll's House, Part 2," "Indecent," "Oslo" and "Sweat" — all have the distinction of being written by American authors (Lucas Hnath, Paula Vogel, J.T. Rogers, and Lynn Nottage respectively), each making their Broadway playwriting debut this season.
"A Doll's House, Part 2" imagines a sequel to Ibsen's 1879 groundbreaking feminist play; "Indecent" charts the controversial history of Polish-Jewish playwright Sholem Asch’s revolutionary 1907 drama "God of Vengeance"; "Oslo" tackles the true story behind the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords; and "Sweat" explores the impact the closing of factories has on a small town in the American Midwest in the mid 2000s.
Who's Going to Win?
With no "Hamilton"-sized hit dominating the news cycle this year, the race in the top categories has been pretty wide open and hard to predict. Industry experts predict the Best Musical race will come down to "Dear Evan Hansen" or "Come from Away." Best Play appears to be an equally tight race, between "Oslo," "A Doll's House, Part 2" and the Pulitzer Prize-winner "Sweat."
Only Bette Midler’s turn in the revival of "Hello, Dolly!" appears to be a lock for the best actress in a musical prize — this being the first Broadway musical the 71-year-old actress has led, well, ever.
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey will take the hosting reins for the first time. Not only is the "House of Cards" star a previous Tony winner himself (for his featured role in 1991's "Lost in Yonkers"), but he's also a song and dance man — so expect a big musical number somewhere in the show. And if the Tonys leave you wanting to see more Spacey, you're in luck. The actor is leading the solo show "Clarence Darrow" at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens on June 15 and 16.
Typically a mix of the Tony-nominated Best Musicals, revivals and a handful of other standout shows from the season perform each year on the Tonys, and this year is no different. Expect performances from "Hello, Dolly!," "Come From Away," "Dear Evan Hansen," "Groundhog Day," "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," "War Paint," "Miss Saigon," "Falsettos" and "Bandstand." Additionally, The Radio City Rockettes, and 2016 Tony winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. have also been announced as special performers.
Each year, the Tonys bring together a starry roster of celebrity theater alums and fans to help present the night's top categories. Those scheduled to appear this year include Scott Bakula, Sara Bareilles, Rachel Bloom, Glenn Close, Brian d’Arcy James, Cynthia Erivo, Sutton Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Mark Hamill, Christopher Jackson, Allison Janney, Nick Kroll, John Legend, John Lithgow, Patina Miller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Mulaney, David Oyelowo, Chazz Palminteri, Sarah Paulson, Lea Salonga, Tom Sturridge, Tommy Tune, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Josh Gad, Taraji P. Henson, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Wilde.