Tony Awards Best Musical battle: ‘Newsies’ vs. ‘Once’

The race for Best Musical is dominated by two tuner adaptations of films with each earning the backing of some of our Experts. 

Newsies” is a stage version of the 1992 Disney film about the delivery boys’ strike against New York City newspapers in 1899. It features music by eight-time Oscar champ and three-time Tony contender Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman with a book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein. Menken reaped Tony bids for his scores to “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Sister Act.”  Fierstein’s won Tonys for writing and starring in “Torch Song Trilogy,” the book of “La Cage aux Folles” and his lead role in “Hairspray.” Both are nominated for their work on this show which has eight nominations in total. 

Backing this show are Melissa Bernardo (EW), Frank DiLella (NY1), Thom Geier (EW), Susan Haskins (Theater Talk), Harry Haun (Playbill), Andy Humm (Gay USA), Brian Lipton (Theatermania), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) Matt Windman (amNY) and Wayman Wong (NY Daily News). Such support translates to leading odds of 4 to 7. 

 

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Once,” a screen-to-stage version of the 2007 film about an Irish songwriter and his Czech muse leads all contenders with 11 nominations. This off-Broadway transfer features tunes by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who starred in the movie and won the Best Original Song Oscar for “Falling Slowly.”

Martin Denton (NY Theater), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), David Sheward (Backstage) and Doug Strassler (NY Press) predict it to prevail. It has odds of 27 to 10. 

In third place with odds of 16 to 1 is “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” a frothy tuner that uses songs from the Gershwin catalog to tell the tale of a playboy (Matthew Broderick) and a bootlegger (Kell OHara) in 1920s New York. While two-time Tony champ Broderick was snubbed, O’Hara landed one of the show’s 10 nods.

The final nominee is “Leap of Faith” which is Menken’s second entry in this race. However, unlike “Newsies,” this adaptation of the 1992 film starring Steve Martin failed to impress critics or audiences. This was the lone bid for this recently shuttered show and it has odds of 25 to 1. 

3 thoughts on “Tony Awards Best Musical battle: ‘Newsies’ vs. ‘Once’

  1. Er…ONCE is winner of 1. best musical drama league, 2. outer critics circle, 3 NY drama critics’ circle, 4 Lucille lortel award, is most nominated for Tony awards (11), the music is leagues above Newsies and the innovation and depth is stunning!!!

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