As a huge fan of Broadway musicals, I eagerly look forward to the annual Tony Awards telecast, which is always chock-full of performances from the most popular shows in New York. This year’s show, which aired Sunday night, was no exception. James Corden proved an amiable host of the show, adding several fun bits which included, not surprisingly, a rousing Broadway edition of his signature carpool karaoke featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski. Check it out on youtube when you have time. You can watch all of the musical highlights from the show on youtube as well.
This year’s acting nominees in the ‘Best New Musical’ and ‘Best Revival of a Musical’ categories were loaded with both Broadway heavyweights and exciting newcomers. As expected, the juggernaut Hamilton dominated the evening, deservedly taking home 11 of the coveted trophies. You can catch a sample of the show’s magic in it’s live Tony performance below:
Those of us who live in Chicago are blessed with a thriving theater scene, and you can bet that most of the current crop of Tony nominees will eventually land here on tour. If you would like to whet your appetite for these great shows in the meantime, be sure to check out the related original cast recordings, which are already on library shelves. In addition, we have a great selection of the various books and movies that provided inspiration for the shows that are currently the hottest tickets on Broadway. Use the links provided below to check availability in our catalog.
Hamilton: It has already been announced that Hamilton will begin an open-ended run in Chicago beginning in September. Lucky us — but good luck getting tickets! While you wait, preview the Tony Award-winning music and lyrics contained in the truly stunning cast album, which features Libertyville’s own Phillipa Soo as Mrs. Hamilton among its cast members. Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda credits Ron Chernow’s remarkable biography Hamilton as his inspiration for the show, and that title is available at the library in all formats. And finally, check out Miranda’s bestselling book that chronicles the making of the hit show, aptly titled Hamilton: the Revolution.
Waitress: Featuring music and lyrics by the great Sara Bareilles, the new musical Waitress features Chicago native and Tony nominee Jesse Mueller in the role of a young waitress who views a pie-making contest as a possible way out of an unhappy marriage. You’ll surely enjoy both the original cast album, as well as Bareilles’ own album featuring songs from the show. In addition, don’t miss the hugely charming 2007 movie by the same name starring Keri Russell that served as inspiration for the Broadway show.
School of Rock: Also inspired by a successful movie, the new musical version of School of Rock boasts Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame) among its creators. The musical features Tony nominee Alex Brightman as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school who forms a rock band with a group of talented 5th graders. Be sure to reserve a copy of the cast album, as well as the popular movie version on which the show was based, which was directed by Richard Linklater and stars the irrepressible Jack Black.
She Loves Me: I had the good fortune to see the new revival of She Loves Me in New York recently, and can vouch that its charm remains wholly intact. Broadway veterans and Tony nominees Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Jane Kralowski (30 Rock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) bring great humor to the tale of two employees at a gift shop who can barely stand one another, without realizing that they’re falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal. The delightful cast album captures their wonderful performances. If the show’s plot sounds familiar, it is because it is based on the classic 1940 film comedy The Shop Around the Corner, which stars Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. A 1998 remake of that film entitled You’ve Got Mail proved an even bigger hit, and pairs Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Why not check out both film versions?
The Color Purple: The musical based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel first thrilled audiences in 2007, and Chicago enjoyed its own lengthy run of the touring production soon after. This new revival of the show captured the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, and Broadway newcomer Cynthia Erivo nabbed her own Tony for her mighty performance as Celie, an uneducated Black woman struggling for empowerment after suffering years of abuse from her father and others. Don’t miss her performance on the outstanding new cast album, which also features Chicago native Jennifer Hudson. Director Steven Spielberg adapted Walker’s novel for the silver screen in 1986. The film, also available at the library, scored 10 Oscar nominations, including nods for stars Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Fiddler on the Roof: The newest revival of this fan favorite features Broadway pros Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht in the story of a Jewish peasant in pre-revolutionary Russia who contends with marrying off three of his daughters while growing antisemitic sentiment threatens his village. The new cast album captures all of the magic of the classic score, including such standards as Sunrise, Sunset and If I Were a Rich Man. If you’re feeling nostalgic, be sure to reserve a copy of the Oscar-winning 1971 film version, which is always worth another view.
If you can’t make it to New York to see these popular shows, we hope you enjoy the taste of Broadway that the library can offer!