It’s that time of year again, y’all! The most theatrical weekend of them all, bursting with talent (and drinking game potential) — it’s Tony season! Now you may have heard tell, from us or from literally any news outlet in the world, about a little musical called Hamilton that is poised to sweep all of the awards. And we here at Z&S have absolutely drunk the Hamilton Kool-Aid (even if only one of us has managed to see the show in person…yet). But there were, in fact, other new musicals that opened on the Great White Way this season, several of them perfectly wonderful — from the Sara Bareilles-composed Waitress and the Bluegrass-infused Bright Star to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest, School of Rock, and the re-imagined Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. And frankly, we feel that these 2016 stepchildren are underrated, perhaps doomed to tout themselves as “Nominated in the Same Category as Hamilton” without much hardware to show for it (but that being said, anything can happen! It’s the Tony’s!).
And on top of these four original shows nominated alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brainchild for Best New Musical, there are also four shows up for Best Revival. If you’re not crying as Cynthia Erivo sings “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, we don’t know what to tell you (come to mention it, between Deaf West’s Spring Awakening‘s teenage death and angst and Fiddler on the Roof‘s xenophobia and refugee crisis, the ebullient romance She Loves Me is really the only cheery one in the bunch). So here, dear readers, is your homework before Sunday’s ceremony. Listen to them well. If you find something you like, check out that full cast recording (almost all of which are available — we’re just waiting on Shuffle Along!). And don’t forget to tune in at 8 p.m. as James Corden leads us merrily through the festivities. With the suspense seemingly removed from many of the categories, any surprises will be all the more surprising, and win or lose it’s bound to be a hell of a night. The Tony’s are all about our shared loved for theater (musical and otherwise), and whoever the winners may be, surely we can all celebrate that.