The Best Musical category for this year’s Tony Awards is filled with four very deserving shows. All four feature fantastic scores and brilliant books, and each has its own unique statement and story to tell. From a 1590s comedy by the same director that brought “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q” to Broadway to a compelling and honest musical based on a graphic memoir, there are some truly interesting surprises on this year’s Broadway stages. With these four shows in the Best Musical category, the 2015 Tony Award could go to any one of these very deserving musicals.
“An American in Paris”
Nominated for an astounding 12 Tony Awards, “An American in Paris” is one of the exciting new musicals nominated in the Best Musical category. The show tells the story of an American soldier in Paris who falls for a beautiful French girl, both of whom are dealing with the aftermath of World War II. The show includes some of the best-know Gershwin songs of all time, including such hits as “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away” and “S Wonderful.” Though there was a 1951 film titled “An American in Paris,” which also included the famous Gershwin songs, this musical tells a new story. “An American in Paris” is one of the front runners for this year’s big awards, but the other competition in this category is just as tough.
The new musical “Fun Home” is a hilarious and fascinating show all about the challenges of seeing your parents differently once you’ve grown up. It’s something that everyone has dealt with, so the subject matter is easily relatable, making “Fun Home” a popular and exciting new musical. Based on Alison Bechdel’s award-winning graphic memoir of the same name the musical also features music by Lisa Kron, who wrote and starred in the 2006 Tony-nominated play “Well.” There have been several Broadway musicals based on memoirs in the past, but “Fun Home” is the first based on a graphic novel memoir.
“Something Rotten” is one of those hilarious new musicals that comes out of the blue and ends up making a huge splash on Broadway. The musical takes place in the 1590s, when the world of theater was primarily dominated by one very famous playwright: William Shakespeare. Two brothers visit a soothsayer and learn that the future of theater involves music and dancing, so they set out to write the world’s first musical. The title itself is an homage to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” when Marcellus states, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” This world premiere musical was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, and is another bright show that could easily sweep the awards this year.
What happens when you take four of the most legendary names in theatre history and combine them for one brand new musical? You get “The Visit,” which brings together the talented team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who are best known for creating shows like “Chicago” and “Cabaret.” Along with Kander and Ebb, “The Visit” includes Chita Rivera, who returns to the stage as the richest woman in the world and decides to visit her poor hometown. And if that isn’t enough star power for one show, the Tony nominated book is by Terrence McNally, who worked with Rivera, Kander and Ebb on 1993’s Tony winning “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” “The Visit” has been working it’s way steadily to Broadway since 2001, and has finally received the accolades it deserves. Nominated for five Tony Awards this year, “The Visit” just may be smaller sleeper hit to win the big category.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.