Doug Besterman, for The Music Man
Besterman won this category last year for his orchestrations on Fosse. Other Broadway credits include Big and Damn Yankees. Off-Broadway, he's worked on Weird Romance, Jack's Holiday, Johnny Pye, Gifts of the Magi, Godspell, as well as Disney's King David, A Christmas Carol and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. For film, he has worked on "Mulan," "Anastasia," and "Pocahontas."
Don Sebesky, for Kiss Me, Kate
Sebesky has been twice nominated for Tonys, for Parade and The Life -- the latter directed, like Kiss Me, Kate, by Michael Blakemore. Other Broadway credits include The Goodbye Girl and The Will Rogers Follies. Off-Broadway, he worked on Adam Guettel's Saturn Returns. He's received 20 Grammy nominations for his work on albums by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Tony Bennett and Barry Manilow.
Jonathan Tunick, for Marie Christine
Tunick is well known as Stephen Sondheim's orchestrator of choice. He has worked on Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, Company, and Off-Broadway's Saturday Night, among others. Other credits include Maury Yeston's Titanic and Ricky Ian Gordon's Dream True. Marie Christine composer Michael John LaChiusa used him on his The Wild Party and The Petrified Prince. He has won the Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony Award (the latter for Titanic).
Harold Wheeler, for Swing!
Wheeler is an old hand at Broadway orchestrations. His credits stretch back to Promises, Promises, and include Coco, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Wiz, Dreamgirls, Little Me, A Chorus Line, The Tap Dance Kid, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, Fame, and Side Show.
Analysis: These four are basically among the best people in the business, and it will be difficult choosing among them. Tunick is the best known, but the industry people who are Tony voters will recognize each name in the category. That said, however, many voters are unskilled in judging the quality of orchestrations and will most likely not spend much time mulling over this contest. The winner will probably the man attached to whichever show sweeps the evening's awards. In that case, Sebesky of Kiss Me, Kate has the edge here. The fact that Besterman and Tunick have already won a Tony this young category will further help his chances. --By Robert Simonson