With the Tony nominations announced on May 1, awards season is in full swing. The next month is full of cocktail receptions and photo ops, all leading up to the Drama Desk Awards (June 3) and the Tony Awards (June 10). These are the shows likeliest to walk away with the most wins, so you'll want to see as many as you can to be caught up and sounding like an expert by Tony night.


Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub are both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances in The Band's Visit at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub are both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances in The Band's Visit at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
(© Matthew Murphy)

1. The Band's Visit
The odds-on favorite to win the Tony Award for Best Musical, this stage adaptation of the 2007 independent film racked up a bunch of awards for its off-Broadway run last season, including Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music, Lyrics, and Direction. The story of an Egyptian police band stranded for one night in small-town Israel, The Band's Visit is surprisingly innovative: The musical uses its opening moments to inform us that the story we are about to witness is "not very important," forcing us to lean forward and listen to this quietly charming tale that feels (and sounds) like a game-changer for musical theater.


The Broadway cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child performs Steven Hoggett's Tony-nominated choreography.
The Broadway cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child performs Steven Hoggett's Tony-nominated choreography.
(© Matthew Murphy)

2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The boy wizard swept London's Olivier Awards last year (winning a record nine), and it seems destined to do the same at the Tonys, where it is nominated for 10 awards. That includes the all-important Best Play Tony: Since The Cursed Child is the only nominated show still running on Broadway, it is the clear front-runner. Set 19 years after the end of the final J.K. Rowling novel and told over two performances, The Cursed Child is an unforgettable theatrical event filled with cutting-edge stagecraft and a must-see for anyone who loves the books and movies. The show is likely to win big at the Drama Desk Awards (where it is nominated for eight).


Nathan Lane and Susan Brown are both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances in the Broadway revival of Tony Kushner's Angels in America.
Nathan Lane and Susan Brown are both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances in the Broadway revival of Tony Kushner's Angels in America.
(© Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

3. Angels in America
Having earned 11 Tony nominations, this revival of Tony Kushner's two-part masterpiece about the AIDS crisis in Reagan's America is the most-nominated play in the history of the awards, with nods for Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, director Marianne Elliott, and even Adrian Sutton's original score. The show has also garnered seven Drama Desk nominations, and Angels is set to fly away with an armful of trophies this awards season, so you ought to get ahead of the post-Tony box office rush.


Norbert Leo Butz (center) is nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Alfred P. Doolittle in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady.
Norbert Leo Butz (center) is nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Alfred P. Doolittle in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady.
(© Joan Marcus)

4. My Fair Lady
This lavish Lincoln Center Theater revival of the beloved Lerner and Loewe musical about Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins has 10 Tony and five Drama Desk nominations. Bartlett Sher is the same director behind the acclaimed revivals of The King and I and South Pacific at LCT, so this would be a production worth seeing even if it weren't nominated for so many awards. The revival categories are likely to be the most competitive and unpredictable this year, so awards-watchers will want to be caught up on the top contenders.


Amar Ramasar and the company of the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel perform Justin Peck's Tony-nominated choreography.
Amar Ramasar and the company of the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel perform Justin Peck's Tony-nominated choreography.
(© Julieta Cervantes)

5. Carousel
Although more critically divisive than My Fair Lady, Carousel earned one more Tony nomination than the other big musical revival this spring, for a total of 11 nods. It also received the highest number of Drama Desk noms this season (12). Arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein's darkest collaboration, this musical tells the story of Julie Jordan (Tony nominee Jessie Mueller) and her doomed romance with Billy Bigelow (Tony nominee Joshua Henry). Dealing with poverty, crime, and domestic violence, Carousel was controversial when it first appeared in 1945 and it's still controversial in 2018 — which apparently pays come awards time. It doesn't hurt that this show features the very best dancing currently on Broadway.


Emerson Davis, Lea Salonga, Alex Newell, Quentin Earl Darrington, and Merle Dandridge star in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island.
Emerson Davis, Lea Salonga, Alex Newell, Quentin Earl Darrington, and Merle Dandridge star in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island.
(© Joan Marcus)

6. Once on This Island
This environmental staging of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's 1990 Broadway musical about star-crossed love in the French Antilles is the dark-horse contender for the Best Revival of a Musical Tony this year. But don't count it out: Director Michael Arden's similarly gutsy 2016 revival of Spring Awakening earned the lasting affection of the theater community, meaning voters might be inclined to reward one of the most innovative young directors working on Broadway. This unique in-the-round production brings us in close contact with the elements that govern the island, so expect a slew of design wins to come from eight Tony nominations and seven Drama Desk nominations.


Tony nominee Ethan Slater (leaping) leads the Broadway cast of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Tony nominee Ethan Slater (leaping) leads the Broadway cast of SpongeBob SquarePants.
(© Joan Marcus)

7. SpongeBob SquarePants
With 12 Tony nominations and 11 Drama Desk nominations, this musical about an anthropomorphized sponge is the most nominated new show on Broadway. And that's not exactly a shock: Director Tina Landau and designer David Zinn have turned the Palace Theatre into a living monument to the Nickelodeon aesthetic, complete with brightly colored props and giant Rube Goldberg machines on the proscenium. Even if the show doesn't tickle your nostalgia, you will be captivated by the remarkable performance of star Ethan Slater, a human cartoon and old-fashioned showman rolled into one. He stands a good chance of walking away with the Tony Award for Best Actor.


Erika Henningsen, Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, and Kate Rockwell star in Mean Girls on Broadway. Park and Louderman are nominated for Tony Awards, while Park and Rockwell are nominated for Drama Desk Awards.
Erika Henningsen, Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, and Kate Rockwell star in Mean Girls on Broadway. Park and Louderman are nominated for Tony Awards, while Park and Rockwell are nominated for Drama Desk Awards.
(© Joan Marcus)

8. Mean Girls
Tony nominee Tina Fey penned the book for this musical adaptation of her 2004 film about the ruthless power politics of American high school. If you like the movie, you'll love the musical, which features the kind of irresistible showmanship that is the hallmark of director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (Tony nominated in both categories). With 12 nominations, Mean Girls is tied with SpongeBob at the Tonys. Add to that 10 Drama Desk nods. No mean feat!


Glenda Jackson and Laurie Metcalf are nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards for their performances in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.
Glenda Jackson and Laurie Metcalf are nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards for their performances in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.
(© Brigitte Lacombe)

9. Three Tall Women
Edward Albee's portrait of a woman in three stages of her life is among several excellent play revivals this season, and it has six Tony nominations to show for it. Lead Actress Glenda Jackson and featured actress Laurie Metcalf are front-runners in their respective categories, while director Joe Mantello has been recognized for his direction with nominations by both the Tonys and the Drama Desks. The performances alone make this a must-have ticket.


Lauren Molina, Peter Saide, Conor Ryan, Nick Wyman, Emma Degerstedt, and Gary Marachek starred in the York Theatre Company production of Desperate Measures.
Lauren Molina, Peter Saide, Conor Ryan, Nick Wyman, Emma Degerstedt, and Gary Marachek starred in the York Theatre Company production of Desperate Measures.
(© Carol Rosegg)

10. Desperate Measures
By all indications, this cowboy riff on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure is the most acclaimed off-Broadway musical of the season: Its extended run at York Theatre Company earned glowing reviews and four Drama Desk nominations. While that initial run ended on December 31st, New York audiences will have the opportunity to catch it in an open-ended run at New world Stages beginning May 30.


Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole, and Paige Gilbert won the Outstanding Ensemble Drama Desk Award for their performances in Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play at MCC.
Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole, and Paige Gilbert won the Outstanding Ensemble Drama Desk Award for their performances in Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play at MCC.
(© Joan Marcus)

11. School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play
Jocelyn Bioh's uproarious comedy about an American newcomer to an all-girls school in Ghana is another big off-Broadway show this season, having received three Drama desk noms and a special award for Outstanding Ensemble. School Girls is playing a return engagement off-Broadway, but not until October. Still, audiences might want to book ahead before the show starts racking up awards.