By Mark A. Robinson
With Broadway’s biggest night upon us and the Tony Awards about to be distributed, it is exciting to celebrate the best of the Great White Way. Many Broadway musicals have been around for years (even decades) and now is the perfect time to take a closer look at some shows currently running on Broadway that are still sharing their Tony Award-winning magic!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical – Best Musical, 2020
Packed to the hilt with iconic songs spanning 80 years, adapted for the stage from an Oscar-winning film, and boasting a tragic love story to end all love stories, Moulin Rouge took home the 2020 Tony Award for Best Musical. Christian and Satine are star-crossed lovers kept apart by her engagement to a jealous and vengeful Duke. The jukebox musical also received Tony Awards for its seamless direction by Alex Timbers and its sparkling choreography by Sonya Tayeh.
The 2019 winner for Best Musical was Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, also taking home trophies for Best Score (Anaïs Mitchell) and Best Direction (Rachel Chavkin). In a dystopian, not-too-distant future, we see the myth of “Orpheus and Eurydice” unfold before us with a score that expertly combines jazz, blues, and pop music to tell a romance that literally takes its lovers to hell and back.
“You’ll be back” taunts King George in the Tony-winning musical of 2016 – Hamilton. Let’s face it, he’s right. You can never get too much of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s reimagining of American history. The season’s juggernaut walked away with 11 Tony Awards in total, including Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Lighting Design, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. Top that!
Not only is The Book of Mormon one of the funniest musicals to grace the Great White Way, but it is also a multi-winner of the coveted Tony Award. The show, about two Mormon missionaries spreading their religion around the remote recesses of Africa, is an irreverent night of hilarity that just happened to win Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Featured Actress, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design and Best Orchestrations.
When a musical runs for 25 years and continues to draw huge audiences, it must be doing something right. The Lion King, adapted from the Disney animated film, brims with wondrous special effects, breathtaking puppetry, infectious songs, and beloved characters. Guided to the stage by the ingenious Julie Taymor, the coming of age story of a young lion cub leapt off the screen and into our hearts as a fully-realized Broadway musical that’s a perfect night out for everyone.
Chicago – Best Revival of a Musical, 1997
Currently Broadway’s longest-running musical still on the boards, the 1997 revival of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago is still as sassy and potent as ever. Besides winning a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, Chicago garnered trophies for its two leads: Bebe Neuwirth and James Naughton, she as that ruthless vaudevillian-turned-murderess Velma Kelly and he as the unscrupulous lawyer Billy Flynn. It was the second Tony for both – Neuwirth won for a 1986 revival of Sweet Charity and Naughton for the 1989 musical City of Angels.
MJ – Myles Frost, Best Actor in a Musical, 2022
Who could take on the role of Michael Jackson and give a performance so believable that audiences were sure they were in the presence of that iconic “King of Pop”? Myles Frost dazzled us with his embodiment of the musician-dancer who ignited the music scene with such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller” and dozens of others. Of course, Frost brought home the 2022 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance.
Wicked – Idina Menzel, Best Actress in a Musical, 2004
Idina Menzel first burst upon our radar in 1996 with her Tony-nominated performance as the rebellious Maureen in the musical Rent. It was, however, as Elphaba in the musical sensation Wicked in 2003 that this actress (with a thunderous voice and piercing eyes) brought home a Tony Award. Playing the misunderstood Elphaba, whose empowered, progressive views painted her as wicked, Menzel gave an indelible turn that demanded we all “defy gravity.”