The 2019 Tony Awards are on June 9 and will be hosted by James Corden. The Tonys have many award categories for both plays and musicals on Broadway this season. These shows can only be seen if you are in New York, which is why we have summed up the nominees for Best Musical and Best Play.
Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
This show is a jukebox musical based on the songs and lives of The Temptations. It depicts their rise to fame and how they became a successful group during the 1960s and 1970s. It features some their hit songs, including “My Girl” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
This is a musical adaptation of the 1988 film starring Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton. It tells the story of Barbara and Adam Maitland, a couple that fell through a hole in their house. After finding the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, they realize they did not survive fall, are now ghosts, and their house has been sold to the Deetz family: Lydia, a goth teenager, her father, Charles, and her future stepmother, Delia. Lydia is able to see the ghosts and finds the handbook. She works together with the couple to call on the demon Beetlejuice in order to convince her family to leave the house and to help Lydia reconnect with her dead mom.
This is a musical stage adaptation of a folk opera concept album by Anaïs Mitchell from 2010. It is a reimagined showing of the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It tells the love stories of Orpheus and Eurydice, as well as King Hades and his wife Persephone. It received the most nominations at the Tonys this year.
This musical tells the story of four used-to-be-famous Broadway stars whose show was closed on opening night for being too selfish. They hear about a lesbian student named Emma from the town of Edgewater, Indiana, who was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to prom, which then resulted in prom being cancelled. They decide to help the girl, but eventually become distracted trying to relive their fame and become popular again.
Tootsie is a musical comedy inspired by the 1982 movie of the same name. It tells the story of a talented but struggling actor named Michael Dorsey. He has a bad reputation for being difficult to work with and realizes the only way to get jobs is to become a woman, so he renames himself Dorothy.
For this year’s Tony awards, we believe either Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations or The Prom will win. Based on previous wins, original ideas usually do better than adaptations, and many of these musicals are adaptations of movies or plays. Jukebox musicals are also very popular, as evidenced by the win of Jersey Boys, which was based on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
This play is very particular, because it involves music and singing, but it is not a musical. The difference is that the music in this play is happening within the actual plot of the play. For example, the music happens when the choir sings, unlike musicals where songs can be used to show emotions but are not actually happening in the story. The show follows Pharus Young, an openly gay student at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys. The school focuses on the education of African-American young men. Young is often bullied because of his sexuality by Bobby Marrow, the headmaster’s nephew. Luckily, Young can confide in his best friend Anthony. With all that is going on, the headmaster appoints Mr. Pendleton to lead the school choir. Together, the boys discuss negro spirituals and learn to express themselves through music.
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth is now appearing on Broadway after a run in London’s West End. The play, directed by Sam Mendes, takes place in a farmhouse in County Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1981. It is a time of political turmoil caused by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Quinn Carney is a former IRA terrorist who returns to his farm and family after the murder of his brother Seamus. Carney and his family are preparing for the annual harvest when Muldoon, a leader of the IRA, comes to visit. He is bad news and causes tension throughout the show. The play has many distinct characters, including Aunt Maggie Far Away, who is confined to a wheelchair and has dementia, to Honor Carney, the baby who never cries.
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
As the title suggests, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus is set after the story by William Shakespeare during the fall of the Roman Empire. The two main characters are street cleaners names Gary, played by Nathan Land, and Janice, played by Christine Nielsen. The play, written by Taylor Mac, has Gary and Janice carting away dead bodies killed in the bloody battles of the civil war toward the end of the Roman Empire. As they take care of the bodies, they talk about their own opinions on the war and rulers. The play is filled with political satire criticizing wars and bloodshed. The shows also involves a lot of gross body humor concerning the dead bodies, which might get to be a little too much for some viewers.
Ink is a play about the UK newspaper Daily Sun. It begins with Rupert Murdoch, played by Bertie Carvel, purchasing a newspaper. He then convinces Larry Lamb, played by Johnny Lee Miller, to run it and be the editor. Lamb assembles a team to form the newspaper that will change British journalism. The set is decorated with desks, file cabinets, and chairs to represent the press in 1969. Soon the play starts to show the turn of the Daily Sun to gossip rather than real stories. The play moves very quickly and rarely gives in to a deeper analysis of the plot.
What the Constitution Means to Me
What the Constitution Means to Me is written by Heidi Schreck as a reflection of her high school self giving speeches about the US Constitution. A big point that she brings up is that the Constitution never mentions the word “woman.” She speaks now as an adult about her own experiences as a woman in this country and the struggles she has faced. She also mentions the women in her family, including her great-great grandmother, who was bought as a bride for $75. At the end of the show every night, she debates with a high school orator.
We think Choir Boy is going to win because it sends a great message and shows the diversity of theatre community on Broadway.
Additional reporting by Allie Rappel ’21.