Tony Awards preview: What musicals could contend?

With just three months to go till the end of the season on April 24, let’s take a look at the leading contenders for this year’s Tony Awards. The 67th edition of these top theater honors will take place on June 8. 

First up, the musicals. 

“After Midnight”
“The Bridges of Madison County”
“Bullets Over Broadway”
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Unlike last season, there are no clear frontrunners for Best Musical. Rather, this year’s roster has eight contenders competing for the four slots. 

Indeed, this is shaping up to be one of the most diverse categories in recent years, with new tuners ranging from jukebox musicals (“After Midnight,” “Beautiful”), to big budget stage adaptations of Oscar winners (“Rocky,” “Bullets Over Broadway”) to Disney musicals (“Aladdin”).

Only “After Midnight” and “Gentleman’s Guide” have run since the beginning of the season; both continue to do solid business.

The cache of talent behind the yet-to-be-opened shows is impressive. “If/Then” is the work of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the team behind the Pulitzer and Tony winner “Next to Normal.”  “Rocky,” produced by Sylvester Stallone, has a score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime) and was both a critical and box office hit in Germany. And “Bullets Over Broadway” boasts a book by the film’s writer and director, Woody Allen

While Best Musical is the most fluid category, this is probably the least as only four revivals qualify for consideration.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
“Les Miserables”

While both “Hedwig” and “Violet” had original runs off-Broadway, their high profiles will likely mean that they are deemed to be revivals by the Tony Awards Administration Committee.

“Cabaret” won Best Musical in 1967 while its first remounting in 1988 earned a bid in this category and its second in 1998 won this award. And “Les Miserables” won Best Musical in 1987; this is the second rialto revival of the tuner.  

Zach Braff, “Bullets Over Broadway”
Alan Cumming, “Cabaret”
Neil Patrick Harris, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Adam Jacobs, “Aladdin”
Ramir Karimloo, “Les Miserables”
Andy Karl, “Rocky”
Jefferson Mays, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

The big hitter in this category is four-time Tony host (and four-time Emmy champ) Neil Patrick Harris who takes on the title role of the transgendered rock singer in “Hedwig.”

[Correction, as per the comments below: Alan Cumming, who is reprising his 1998 Tony-winning role as the Emcee in “Cabaret,” is ineligible to contend again as per Rule 2(k). Had he not won back then, he could be nominated this year.]

But watch out for 2004 Tony winner Jefferson Mays (“I Am My Own Wife”), who plays eight different characters in a show that has some of the best reviews of the season.

Sutton Foster, “Violet”
Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful”
Idina Menzel, “If/Then”
Kelli O’Hara, “The Bridges of Madison County”
Michelle Williams, “Cabaret”

Even though “Beautiful” is the only one of these showcases to open, there seems to be a growing consensus that this will be the line-up on Tony night …and what a dynamite group.

Foster has won this award twice (“Thoroughly Modern Mille,” 2002; “Anything Goes,” 2011) and Menzel once (“Wicked,” 2004). O’Hara has been a four-time also-ran. Mueller — who earned raves and a Tony bid in 2012 for the dreary restaging of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” — is being hailed as Broadway’s newest leading lady for playing Grammy champ Carole King. And Williams makes her Broadway debut in a role that won an Oscar for Liza Minnelli in 1972 and a Tony for the late Natasha Richardson in 1998. 

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