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Going for 2012 Tony Gold! Handicapping the Race for Best Actress in a Musical

Going for 2012 Tony Gold! Handicapping the Race for Best Actress in a Musical
Audra McDonald in 'Porgy and Bess,' Jan Maxwell in 'Follies' & Cristin Milioti in 'Once'
We'd love to see Caissie Levy get some Tony love next week!

It’s almost Tony time, and let's face it: We’re obsessed! In anticipation of the 2012 Tony nominations, which will be announced on May 1, the Broadway.com editorial staff clocked 12 of the top races. Take a look at our forecast, including frontrunners, hopefuls and a “shout out” to one performer or show we hope the Tony nominators won’t forget. Below, our cheat sheet on the race for Best Actress in a Musical.

FRONTRUNNERS
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Nominated for both musicals and plays four times in the past eight years, this pro is a favorite this year for her delicious take on the acerbic, fabulous Phyllis and her showstopping rendition of the Sondheim standard “Could I Leave You.”

Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess
This six-time past nominee (she’s won four actual Tonys) is undoubtedly headed back to the ceremony for her searing portrayal of the Gershwins’ iconic heroine: abused, drug-addicted, lovestruck Bess.

Cristin Milioti, Once 
This fresh-faced talent came out of nowhere to win over the theater world as the quirky female lead, simply known as Girl, in this romantic musical. Her powerful Act Two solo “The Hill” is nothing short of ravishing.

IN THE MIX
Kara Lindsay, Newsies
A true triple threat, Lindsay shines through the troupe of newsies in her Broadway debut.

Kelli O'Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Three-time nominee O’Hara delivers Gershwin tunes gorgeously as a saucy bootlegging heroine.

Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde
Although the show is long-gone, Osnes could be remembered for her sexy turn as the gun-toting poet.

Bernadette Peters, Follies
Peters nailed Sondheim classics like “Losing My Mind” and “In Buddy’s Eyes.” The thought of her burns bright.

Elena Roger, Evita
Without the pipes of her predecessors, Roger has proven to be a controversial Eva. But she can't be counted out.

Also possible: Jennifer Damiano, Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, Patti Murin, Lysistrata Jones.

BROADWAY.COM SHOUT OUT
Caissie Levy, Ghost
It’s hard to get respect in a loud, modern musical that’s more popular with audiences than critics, but we’re big fans of Levy’s heartfelt performance as grieving Molly. Hopefully nominators will see the heart behind the flash.

Click for more Broadway.com Tony forecasts!

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