Broadway is very much like the United States’ economy — it has periods of prosperous success followed by periods of quiet inactivity. This year has been one of the quiet ones in terms of new musicals.
However, the historic and noteworthy musicals Follies” and “Porgy and Bess” (for which Broadway superstar Audra McDonald is receiving heavy Tony buzz) have been revived to very positive reception. Upcoming revivals include the ground-breaking Christian rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita,” which is widely known as the musical that made Patti LuPone (yes, THE Patti LuPone) famous.
Compare this to last year’s line-up when only two tuners were restaged and both contended for Best Musical Revial at the Tonys: Frank Loesser’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” which took the top award. Each also won one acting Tony: John Larroquette for his featured role in “How to Succeed” and Broadway sensation Sutton Foster for “Anything Goes.” The latter also took the prize for Best Choreography.
This fever for revivals is in direct contrast to the number of new musicals premiering. Many of our posters and pundits named “Lysistrata Jones” as an early frontrunner at the Tonys based on an extremely positive response to the off-Broadway version.
However, the Broadway remount received a lukewarm response from critics and suffered from poor sales, closing only weeks after its first preview. Last year, Kander and Ebb’s “The Scottsboro Boys” managed a Best Musical bid even with an early closing, so hope may not be lost for this up-beat and quirky musical based on the ancient Greek comedy.
A new frontrunner has not been determined, though some posters in our forum believe that Disney’s “Newsies” will win big this season.
This relatively boring race comes as a surprise considering that last year the original musical category was on fire with “The Book of Mormon,” which continues to sell-out performances, having won nine of its 14 Tony nominations including Best Musical and “Sister Act,” an adaptation of the popular Whoopi Goldberg film, which reaped five bids but was shut-out.
So what do you think? Which new musicals and revivals will be the big winners at this year’s Oscars-for-Broadway? Sound off in our forum and get ready for the Tonys this June!