2019 Broadway spring season preview of musicals: Which will be remembered by the Tony Awards?

As we’re now about halfway through the Broadway season, there are currently seven productions of musicals (five new, two revivals) set to open this spring. Could we be seeing any of them contend at this year’s Tony Awards? Below, we recap the plot of each musical as well as the awards history of its author, cast, creative types, the opening, and (where applicable) closing dates.

“Be More Chill” (previews begin February 13; opens March 10)
In this musical adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s 2004 novel of the same name, Jeremy Heere is your average, nothing-special teenager at Middleborough High School in nothing-special New Jersey. That is, until the day he finds out about ‘The Squip.’ Thus begins a journey that pits Jeremy’s desire to be popular against his struggle to remain true to his authentic self.

With a book by Drama Desk nominee Joe Tracz (Off-Broadway’s “The Lightning Theif,” 2017) and a score by Joe Iconis, this production is coming in after a successful run Off-Broadway last summer. The cast includes Will Roland (“Dear Evan Hansen,” 2016), Drama Desk nominee George Salazar (“The Lightning Theif”), Stephanie Hsu, Grammy nominee Jason Tam (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” 2018), Katlyn Carlson, Lauren Marcus, Gerard Canonico (“Groundhog Day,” 2017), Tiffany Mann, Britton Smith, and is directed by Stephen Brackett (“The Lightning Theif”).

“Ain’t Too Proud” (previews begin February 28; opens March 21)
In this biographical musical about The Temptations, the story follows their journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. Through friendship and betrayal amid the civil unrest that tore America apart, their moving and personal story still resonates five decades later.

With a book by Obie Award winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (Off-Broadway’s “Pipeline,” 2018), the production stars Derrick Baskin (“Memphis,” 2009), James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope (“Choir Boy,” 2019), and is directed by two-time Tony-winning director Des McAnuff (“Big River,” 1985; “The Who’s Tommy,” 1993).

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“Beetlejuice” (previews begin March 28; opens April 25)
In this musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Lydia Deetz is a strange and unusual teenager who is obsessed with death. Luckily, her new house is haunted by a recently deceased couple and a degenerate demon. When Lydia calls on this ghost to scare away her insufferable parents, Beetlejuice comes up with the perfect plan, which involves exorcism, arranged marriages and a girl scout who gets scared out of her wit.

With a book by Drama Desk nominees Scott Brown & Anthony King (“Gutenberg! The Musical!,” 2007) and a score by Eddie Perfect (“King Kong,” 2018), the production stars Tony nominee Alex Brightman (“School of Rock,” 2016), Outer Critics Circle Award nominee Sophia Anne Caruso (off-Broadway’s “Lazarus,” 2016), Tony nominee Rob McClure (“Chaplin,” 2013), Tony nominee Kerry Butler (“Xanadu,” 2008), Drama Desk nominee Leslie Kritzer (“A Catered Affair,” 2008), Adam Dannheisser (“Fiddler on the Roof,” 2015), Jill Abramovitz, Danny Rutigliano, Kelvin Moon Loh, and is directed by two-time Tony nominated book writer (for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” 2011) & director (for “Peter and the Starcatcher,” 2012) Alex Timbers.

“Kiss Me, Kate” (opens March 14; closes June 2)
In the third Broadway revival of Cole Porter’s classic 1948 musical comedy, Fred Graham is directing, producing, and starring in a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Yet, passions run high as his leading lady (and ex-wife) Lilli Vanessi battle onstage and off.

The original production received the very first Tony Award for Best Musical in 1949 along with four other accolades. The most recent Broadway revival from 1999 won five Tonys (including Best Revival of a Musical). This production presented by Roundabout Theatre Company stars Tony nominee Will Chase (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” 2013), Tony winner Kelli O’Hara (“The King & I,” 2015), Corbin Bleu (“Holiday Inn,” 2016), newcomer Stephanie Styles, four-time SAG nominee John Pankow (“Mad About You,” 1995-98), Lance Coadie Williams (“Sweat,” 2017), Terence Archie (“Rocky,” 2014), Mel Johnson, Jr., Adrienne Walker, James T. Lane (“A Chorus Line,” 2006), and is directed by eight-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis.

“Hadestown” (previews begin March 22; opens April 17)
In this stage musical adaptation of Anaïs Mitchell’s 2010 concept album of the same name, songwriter Orpheus and his muse Eurydice are living it up and falling in love during the warmth of summertime. But as winter approaches, reality sets in: these young dreamers can’t survive on songs alone. Tempted by the promise of plenty, Eurydice is lured to the depths of industrial Hadestown. On a quest to save her, Orpheus journeys to the underworld where their trust is put to a final test.

After having premiered at Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016, the musical went on to receive pre-Broadway engagements at the Citadel Theatre in Canada and the National Theatre in London. This production stars Reeve Carney (“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” 2011), Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (“Miss Saigon,” 2017), two-time Tony nominee André De Shields (“Play On!,” 1997; “The Full Monty,” 2001), Drama Desk nominee Patrick Page (“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”), Amber Gray (“Natasha, Pierre, & the Great of 1812,” 2017), and is directed by Tony nominee Rachel Chavkin (“Natasha, Pierre, & the Great of 1812”).

“Tootsie” (previews begin March 29; opens April 23)
In this musical adaptation of Sydney Pollack’s 1982 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Michael Dorsey is a talented, but difficult actor who struggles to find work until an audacious, desperate stunt lands him the role of a lifetime.

With a book by Robert Horn (“13,” 2008) and a score by Tony winner David Yazbek (“The Band’s Visit,” 2018), the production stars Tony nominee Santino Fontana (“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” 2013), Lilli Cooper (“SpongeBob SquarePants,” 2017), Tony nominee Sarah Stiles (“Hand to God,” 2015), John Behlmann (“Significant Other,” 2017), Andy Grotelueschen, four-time Drama Desk nominee Julie Halston, Tony winner Michael McGrath (“Nice Work If You Can Get It,” 2012), Tony nominee Reg Rogers (“Holiday,” 1996), and is directed by Scott Ellis.

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“Oklahoma!” (opens April 7; closes September 1)
In the fifth Broadway revival of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II’s classic 1943 groundbreaking musical, a high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. Although the road to true love never runs smooth, with these two headstrong romantics holding the reins, love’s journey is as bumpy as a surrey ride down a country road.

While the original production predates the Tonys, the musical itself was considered groundbreaking for having the song and dance numbers fully integrated into a well-made story with serious dramatic goals that were able to evoke genuine emotions other than laughter. This production is coming in after a successful run at Off-Broadway’s St. Ann’s Warehouse last fall. The cast includes Drama Desk nominee Damon Daunno (Off-Broadway’s “The Lucky Ones,” 2018), Rebecca Naomi Jones (“American Idiot,” 2010), Patrick Vaill, two-time Tony nominee Mary Testa (“On the Town,” 1999; “42nd Street,” 2001), Ali Stroker (“Spring Awakening,” 2015), James Davis, Mitch Tebo, Michael Nathanson, Mallory Portnoy, and is directed by Daniel Fish.

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