It’s hard to believe that this year’s Tony Awards are only four days away! As the anticipation builds rapidly, I could not have been more excited to hear the shows performing on this year’s telecast. I’ve been fortunate to see a few of these musicals over the past few months, and I know first-hand how talent-filled this Broadway season has been. As I anxiously wait to see which awards Hamilton doesn’t take home, I went ahead and compileda list of the five performances I am most excited to see on Sunday’s event.
Two words: Carmen Cusack. To be honest, I had never heard of this powerhouse performer before seeing Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s new musical, and boy was I surprised last week upon sitting only feet away from the stage at the Cort Theatre. There are only a few times I have cried in a theatre before: watching Sutton Foster in Violet, seeing Daddy Long Legs Off-Broadway, and at a regional theatre production of The Trip To Bountiful. Yet, I found myself bawling like a child while witnessing the masterpiece that is Bright Star. Aside from the show’s moving, well developed book and beautiful score, Carmen Cusack delivers one of the most, if not THE most, complex, touching, gut wrenching, soul searching, Tony Award deserving performance I have ever seen. And to make it even better, she is paired alongside a phenomenal cast including Paul Alexander Nolan, A.J. Shively, and Hannah Elless. This show is a must see and I am desperately hoping that its Tony performance will boost ticket sales significantly.
The Color Purple
Why is it that my favorite two leading ladies this season (Carmen Cusack and Cynthia Erivo) are both from the West End? Clearly there is some talent across the pond that needs to make its way to Broadway now! I’ve seen The Color Purple before and already had a strong love for the show before witnessing this revival. But this production is something like no other. Everything from the sets to the direction is marvelously worked to perfection. And at the center of it all if Cynthia Erivo. Words cannot even begin to explain the talent that comes from this only 29 year old star. There’s a reason tickets to this show are so hard to come by: a reason you all shall see come Sunday.
I’m not sure how she does it, but Jessie Mueller seems to somehow completely change the way she acts and sounds for each different show she is cast in. If there was an award for most versatile performer, she would win it ever year. Matched with Sara Bareilles’ score, the show has been doing great at the box office and is expected to have a very good run on the Great White Way. But let’s not forget about the others in the cast including Tony Nominee Keala Settle who blows the roof off the Brooks Atkinson Theatre every night.
School of Rock
Few can rock as hard as Tony Nominee Alex Brightman. I still am unable to grasp how he is able to deliver such a powerful and demanding performance eight times a week at the Winter Garden Theatre, but he somehow does it. Though Andrew Lloyd Webber is mostly known for his operatic and classical musicals, his adaption of School of Rock is a fun, exhilarating, extremely entertaining production that will live on for years. While many musicals this season are much more emotional and soul clenching, this one is an up building and energetic show that features a cast of some extremely talented young performers. If these kids are the future of Broadway, I have full confidence in the future of the Great White Way.
C’mon, have you seen this cast? I don’t think it would be possible with the show’s budget to get more of our favorite Broadway stars in this production. And not only are Audra, Billy, Brandon, and more singing their faces off each night, but the choreography by Savion Glover is remarkable. I am quite glad the creative team took some extra time to work on this masterpiece because it is, and will remain to be, one of my favorite shows.