Strap on your LaDucas and warm up your best 16 bars. The 2023 Tony Awards nominations prediction center is open for business, and a medley of musicals are vying for a spot in this year’s competitive races. Fifteen musicals will compete for Broadway’s biggest honors, and it’s time for you to make your best educated picks as to which ones will rise to the top.
The fall and winter have already seen several new tuners make a play for the coveted Best Musical award. “Kimberly Akimbo” is the latest work from Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home”) and book writer/lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire. The story is adapted from Lindsay-Abaire’s straight play of the same name, which centers on the teenage Kimberly (Tony winner Victoria Clark) who has a rare disease that causes her body to age rapidly. The heartwarming and intimate show earned impressive reviews and has audiences swooning.
By contrast, “Some Like it Hot” adopts the large-scale stylings of golden age musicals to adapt the classic MGM comedy. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”) have cooked up plenty of upbeat showstoppers, brought to life with non-stop energy by director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”). Though the story takes place in 1933, the story is told with a contemporary perspective. J. Harrison Ghee delivers a star-making turn as Daphne, opposite two-time Tony winner Christian Borle as Joe and Adrianna Hicks (“SIX”) as Sugar.
Two jukebox musicals will also make a play for the gold. The first of which is “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical.” Instead of following the leads of most bio-musicals, which present their famous subjects in nothing but sunshine, “A Beautiful Noise” employs Neil Diamond’s therapy sessions as a framing device. This allows the show to explore the highs and lows of the singer/songwriter’s life, with Will Swenson donning the flashy shirts of the younger Diamond and Mark Jacoby playing the older version of the character. The audience jams out to “Sweet Caroline,” naturally.
SEE 2023 Tony Awards eligibility rulings (round 1): ‘Kimberly Akimbo,’ ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘1776’ and a change in voting procedure
The smash hit “& Juliet” may utilize familiar pop songs, but it seeks to tell an original tale with the music. Book writer David West Reed imagines a world in which Shakespeare’s Juliet chooses not to end her life like Romeo. The cast sings through a catalog of pop hits by Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and more to tell the story. The show features impressive performances by Lorna Courtney and Betsy Wolfe, which has the audience bopping in their seats.
Sadly, not every new musical has survived the difficult landscape of a post-pandemic Broadway. “Almost Famous” (Cameron Crowe’s adaptation of his award-winning film) and “KPOP” (a behind the scenes look at the pressure placed on the stars of the titular genre) have already shuttered their doors. Will Tony voters find a place for these closed shows?
The spring will of course bring with it a bevy of new contenders hoping to be fresh in voters’ minds when it’s time to mark Tony ballots. Andrew Lloyd-Webber will give a classic fairytale a contemporary update with “Bad Cinderella.” The corn-y new comedy “Shucked” looks to bring in the laughs with proven stage comedians like John Behlmann, Kevin Cahoon, and Alex Newell. Then there’s “New York, New York,” a stage reimagining of the 1977 film with Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro. Anna Uzele and Colton Ryan step into their shoes now, singing tunes from John Kander and Fred Ebbs trunk, with a few new numbers courtesy of a Kander and Lin-Manuel Miranda collaboration.
SEE Victoria Clark (‘Kimberly Akimbo’) could be the 12th actress in this elite club of Tony winners
In most years, we are lucky if the Musical Revival category has three contenders total. But this season features six musicals hoping to crash the category.
The first of these revivals is Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” a transfer of the City Center staging which opened to rapturous reviews and was the hottest ticket of the summer. Its cast included Sara Bareilles, Patina Miller, Brian d’Arcy James, Phillipa Soo, and Gavin Creel. The show became such an event that it extended twice, saw major stars step into roles as replacements, and is currently touring the country.
Sondheim fans will have their appetites whetted again as “Sweeney Todd” has just entered into previews, with Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford leading the company. This is the first ever large-scale revival of what is often considered Sondheim’s master work, with a full orchestra in tow. Director Thomas Kail (a Tony-winner for “Hamilton”) will ensure that ticket buyers have a bloody good time.
The aforementioned City Center is transferring a second production to the Great White Way this season with “Parade,” starring Ben Platt. This is the first revival of Jason Robert Brown’s musical, which explores the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was wrongfully accused of murdering a 13-year old girl. Neo-Nazis have already protested outside the theater during previews, showcasing that this dark tale from our country’s past remains as eerily relevant as ever.
Other revivals hoping for recognition include Roundabout Theatre Company’s “1776,” which featured an all women and non-binary cast portraying the founding fathers. The show, led by Crystal Lucas-Perry, ended its limited engagement in January before launching a national tour. The first re-staging of “Dancin’” will begin previews later this month. Bob Fosse’s classic dances will be brought to life thanks to director Wayne Cilento, who was a Tony nominee from the original production. Lincoln Center Theater’s “Camelot” will round out the group. Director Bartlett Sher has recruited the dynamite trio of Andrew Burnap, Jordan Doncia, and Phillipa Soo to bring this gorgeously sung love triangle to life.
Head to the prediction center now to log your predictions. The eligibility cut-off date for the 2023 Tony Awards is April 27. Nominations will be announced on May 2, ahead of a June 11 ceremony.
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