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This image released by Jeffrey Richards Associates shows Bryan Cranston portraying President Lyndon B. Johnson during a performance of "All the Way." The production said Thursday, June 5, 2014, it had earned back its $3.9 million costs, just days after just celebrating its 100th performance. Cranston plays Johnson during his first year in office following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and explores both his fight for re-election and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Richards Associates, Evgenia Eliseeva)
Critics: Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald will win Tonys
Tonight » Bryan Cranston and Audra McDonald are The AP’s favorites.
First Published Jun 06 2014 02:13 pm • Last Updated Jun 08 2014 02:48 pm

New York » It’s been a year on Broadway so unpredictable that the only thing for certain at the Tony Awards on Sunday is that Hugh Jackman will be the host. There have been no clear juggernauts — although some wonderful performances — and critics have largely bemoaned the lack of strong new good musicals and plays. In fact, the best revival categories this year easily overshadow anything new.

That has led to uncertainty in most of the categories, and the nominating committee made no friends with choices that left many scratching their heads. CBS won’t be too happy that the likes of Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, James Franco and Rachel Weisz didn’t get nominations. To make matters worse, the telecast faces off against Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

At a glance

On TV

The 68th Annual Tony Awards airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBS/Ch. 2. (Tape delayed in this time zone.)

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So, into the breach, The Associated Press handicaps some of this year’s messy races.

BEST MUSICAL

Will win » "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder."

Should win » "Aladdin."

"A Gentleman’s Guide" is the only one of the four nominees to have all original music and is a hard-working, witty, fun work that deserves its win. But "Aladdin" has everything a big musical should have — humor, high-step dancing, big sets and costumes, a bona fide leading man in James Monroe Iglehart and tried-and-tested songs. It’s even got a flying carpet. Who could ask for anything more? Actually, we could ask for more nominations: "The Bridges of Madison County," "If/Then," "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Rocky" — though each was somewhat flawed — all deserved to be here, too.

BEST PLAY

Will win » "All The Way."

Should win » "Mothers and Sons."


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The first turbulent year of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency is the gripping focus of Robert Schenkkan’s play and it owes its likely win to Bryan Cranston, who is spellbinding in the lead role. But the play is bloated and gets bogged down in the second half. Terrence McNally’s "Mothers and Sons" is gentle in a way "All the Way" is showy. And in its subtle dialogue, McNally’s play often seems more authentic than Schenkkan’s. The other contestants — "Act One," "Casa Valentina" and "Outside Mullingar" — are delightful without leaving a lasting impression.

REVIVAL-PLAY

Will win » "The Glass Menagerie."

Should win » Any of the four.

Want great acting in brilliant works? Step right down to the best play revival category. "The Glass Menagerie," with Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, was dreamy and sublime. "A Raisin in the Sun" with Denzel Washington is powerful and resonant. "Twelfth Night" with Mark Rylance was Shakespeare at its best. And "The Cripple of Inishmaan" is an ensemble, sets and a playwright firing on all four cylinders. No one should have to choose among these standout productions.

REVIVAL-MUSICAL

Will win » "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Should win » "Les Miserables."

The breathtaking 90-minute revival of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is full of energy and bravado, with a leading transvestite in Neil Patrick Harris who sings with real feeling and saucily spits up at the audience. So it’s easy to overlook the new "Les Mis," with its gloomy, aching heartbeat. It has two superb leads in Ramin Karimloo and Will Swenson and new orchestrations, stagecraft and costumes. The third candidate, the understated "Violet," could sneak in to steal the trophy if its two glitzy rivals spit the vote.

ACTOR-PLAY

Will win » Bryan Cranston.

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