It's not even Thanksgiving yet and just like that, the 2014 Tony Award race for Best Leading Actress in a Musical got really crowded. As much as Broadway fans are exciting to see Sutton Foster returning to the boards in Violet, the news of the limited-run musical revival had to give a little pause the other popular ladies listed below, all of whom have a great shot of going home with Tony. Any objections to taking a ridiculously early peek at the 2014 Tony Award race for Best Leading Actress in a Musical? Didn’t think so.
SUTTON FOSTER in Violet
Foster is always a contender come Tony night! She’s been nominated for Tonys five times (winning twice, for the musical comedies Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes) and will now take on an emotionally rich part: a scarred young woman on a moving spiritual journey. Could Foster land her third trophy this season? Of course she could!
Why She Could Win: She’s well-loved and dipping her toes in darker waters.
IDINA MENZEL in If/Then
Menzel hasn’t been around much on the New York stage since her surprise Tony win for her electrifying turn in Wicked, appearing briefly in See What I Wanna See in 2005. She’s picked a big role for a comeback, taking on multiple versions of the same woman’s life and an endless supply of big-belting songs. This is definite award bait.
Why She Could Win: It’s a strong, emotional role in a risk-taking musical.
JESSIE MUELLER in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
In just three years since her Tony-nominated debut in the short-running On a Clear Day..., Mueller has risen the ranks of leading ladies. She got great reviews in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, delivered the musical comedy goods in Nice Work If You Can Get It and might seal the deal winning a trophy as everyone’s mom’s favorite singer/songwriter.
Why She Could Win: She’s a dazzling up-and-comer.
KELLI O’HARA in The Bridges of Madison County
The FOUR (!)-time Tony nominee was too pregnant to play lovelorn farmer’s wife Francesca in the musical’s pre-Broadway run over the summer at Williamstown Theater Festival. But sight unseen, it’s hard to imagine O’Hara not nailing the role’s heartbreaking story and gorgeous songs. What’s a lady gotta do to win a Tony?
Why She Could Win: Cause it’s about time!
MICHELLE WILLIAMS in Cabaret
With three Oscar nominations under her belt, many are assuming that Williams will be a slam-dunk in the role of Sally Bowles, which previously won Natasha Richardson a Tony and Liza Minnelli an Oscar (although interestingly, original Sally Jill Haworth didn’t land a nom). Williams is a front-runner on her name alone.
Why She Could Win: If she nails it, she’ll be the talk of the town.
Of course, some questions remain. Will someone else come in and shake up this race even further? Will Krysta Rodriguez be remembered for her sexy, sly performance in First Date? Or Mary Bridget Davies for bringing amazing Janis Joplin vocals to the Great White Way? And will any of the remaining ladies of the spring—Courtney Reed of Aladdin, Margo Seibert of Rocky, the Bullets Over Broadway pack—slip into this category? Stay tuned!