If you follow the world of theater, then you’re probably looking forward to the June 12 airing of the American Theatre Wing’s 70th Annual Tony Awards. With so many fantastic shows to see, it’s always difficult to decide who to cheer for. Plan ahead for your Tony Awards ballots and take a look at the four plays up for the Best Play category, each of which is worthy of winning the statue on the big night. From a brilliant drama by “The Walking Dead’s” Michonne to an imagined “future history,” there is a wealth of talent to celebrate at the biggest night in theater.
Danai Gurira’s powerful new play, “Eclipsed” tells the story of the Liberian Civil War and the captive wives of a rebel officer who have bonded together to form an unlikely community. The community of wives becomes upset when a new girl, played by Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, who is making her Broadway debut, shows up. Throughout the play the women show their strength as they are tested amid a story of survival. It’s interesting to note that playwright Danai Gurira is most well-known for portraying Michonne on “The Walking Dead.” Eclipsed is a great chance to see a different side to the talented playwright, and you just may be surprised at her fascinating and important new work.
“The Father” is the story of a retired dancer who has come to live with his adult daughter and her husband. However, nothing is quite what it seems when the man’s past is revealed. “The Father” features Tony Award-winning actor Frank Langella and is written by Florian Zeller. It originally premiered in 2012 in Paris, and was moved to London’s West End in 2014, premiering on Broadway in 2015. This version is a translation by two-time Tony winner Christopher Hampton, and is a fascinating look at three very compelling characters. A bold and interesting story and three tremendously talented actors, are what makes “The Father” a worthy contender at this year’s Tony.
Stephen Karam wrote this new play, “The Humans,” that takes place during the course of a family’s Thanksgiving dinner. The story revolves around Erik Blake, who has brought his family to celebrate the holiday at his daughter’s apartment in Manhattan. The evening unravels as strange things start to happen in the night and everyone’s deepest fears are exposed. There is a lot that happens during the evening, and the simplicity of it taking place during one night really allows the story and the powerful performances to shine through. The show features three past Tony Award-winning actors, out of a cast of six, that includes Arian Moayed, Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell, and was commission by Roundabout Theatre Company in 2015.
“King Charles III”
Opening with the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, “King Charles III,” is the story of the accession and reign of King Charles III. The themes include limitation of freedom of the press as Charles figures out how to rule. Political intrigue and drama abound as this play, written in blank verse, exposes the unwritten rules of Britain’s democracy and its most famous family. It’s told as a “future history” play and has been nominated for five Tony Awards, including both leading actors. Though the show itself only ran for three months, it received very positive reviews and is another powerful script that could take home the statue.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.