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Inside the 2014 Tony Nominees: Best Musical

As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 8, EW takes a closer look at this season’s nominated selection of new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor. Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Musical.

After Midnight 

Opened: Nov. 3, 2013
Starring: Adriane Lenox, Dulé Hill, and a rotating list of celebrity guest stars including Fantasia Barrino, Gladys Knight, and Patti LaBelle
Concept by: Jack Viertel
Directed and Choreographed by: Warren Carlyle
Synopsis: Celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club, After Midnight is a sexy and smoky musical revue of the Jazz Age. With original arrangements of Ellington classics and Langston Hughes’ poetry, After Midnight features 25 dancers and singers and a 17-piece big band picked by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis.
EW review: “But for the most part, After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble. Be sure to hang around after the curtain call for Ellington’s ‘Rockin’ in Rhythm,’ a kind of it-ain’t-overture by Marsalis’ incomparable orchestra that is sure to put a spring in your step for days to come.”  A- –Thom Geier
Listen to this: “Women Be Wise”
Nominations: 7 — Best Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Adriane Lenox), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Isabel Toledo), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Peter Hylenski), Best Direction of a Musical (Warren Carlyle), and Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle)
Fun Fact: After Midnight was first performed as part of New York City Center’s Encores! program under the title Cotton Club Parade in 2011 and 2012.
Odds of Winning: A long shot for the gold.
Fantasia Barrino on her affinity for jazz“Jazz music is a different language — it’s not the same as R&B, it’s not the same as most music that a lot of us listen to, especially our young people, but I feel like it’s what people need to see because it’s where it all started. It’s so elegant, it’s so classy, it’s so sexy, and most of all, it stands for those people who came before us and who went through so much. Music was their way of feeling like they could make it through.”
Warren Carlyle on what attracted him to the show: “It’s been an amazing journey. I started working on it about 4 years ago. It’s been an amazing journey of development. I took the job, I wanted to do it because of the music, the music is really what attracted me. I don’t know, I love this music. It’s incredible. It’s a giant Broadway musical. All the story is told through music and dance. There’s a little bit of poetry that weaves it together but it’s sort of a wild artistic adventure.”

NEXT: Aladdin 

Tony Awards 2014: Who will win?

Will Neil Patrick Harris claim his first Tony Award this Sunday for his gender-bending turn in the musical revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch? Probably. Will fellow multiple-Emmy winner Bryan Cranston win for playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the biodrama All the Way? Count on it. But will it be the Carole King biomusical Beautiful or the murderously funny A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder that earns top honors as the Best New Musical of the Broadway season?

On that point, as on many other tight races in this year’s Tony contest, EW critics Melissa Rose Bernardo and Thom Geier are divided. Here, we offer our predictions of who will be step-step-kicking to the podium at Radio City Music Hall this Sunday. (By the way, we’ll also be live-blogging the ceremony, hosted for the fourth time by Hugh Jackman.) Disagree with our picks? Please let us know who you think will win — or should win — in the comments section. READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: Denzel Washington's 'Raisin in the Sun' is season's biggest hit

There are no dreams deferred for the producers of the Denzel Washington-led revival of A Raisin in the Sun. In its first full week since its April 3 opening, director Kenny Leon’s well-reviewed revival earned a remarkable $1.18 million, according to figures from the Broadway League covering ticket sales for the week ending April 13. That makes it the fifth highest-grossing show of the week and the only non-musical to cross the seven-figure threshold. And thanks to premium ticket prices as high as $348, Raisin actually exceeded the estimated gross potential of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre by 16 percent. READ FULL STORY

'Beautiful': Listen to five tracks from the cast album of Broadway’s new Carole King musical

Broadway’s been buzzing about Beautiful, the new musical that chronicles the life of famed singer-songwriter Carole King and the songs she wrote that launched the careers of a generation.

While the show is bolstered by a star-making performance from Jessie Mueller, everyone who has seen it is raving about the music. Well, good news — like any good Broadway musical, the show plans to release an original cast album featuring the songs written by King and re-interpreted by the cast of theater veterans.

EW has a truly beautiful (sorry) first listen to five of the tracks from the upcoming album, which will be released digitally on April 1 and in stores on May 13 (you can pre-order on iTunes here).

Below, check out “Some Kind of Wonderful” (sung by Jessie Mueller, Jake Epstein and the Drifters); “Walking in the Rain” (Anika Larsen and Jarrod Spector); “You’ve Got a Friend” (Mueller, Larsen and Spector); “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Mueller); and of course, the titular ballad “Beautiful” (Mueller). READ FULL STORY

Broadway Box Office: 'Bronx Bombers' is striking out with audiences, while Shakespeare hits a grand slam

Broadway’s New York Yankees love-fest Bronx Bombers, starring Peter Scolari as Yogi Berra, isn’t exactly pulling major-league numbers at the box office. In the first full week since its Feb. 6 opening, the new drama took in a measly $177,559, according to figures released by The Broadway League. That’s less than a quarter of the potential gross at Circle in the Square (one of Broadway’s smallest theaters) — and does not bode well for its future.

The biggest surprise this winter has been the season’s unlikeliest but very palpable hit(s): the Mark Rylance-led productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III playing in repertory (and breaking house sales records) at the Belasco. For the week ending Feb. 16, the shows grossed a remarkable $944,755 — a tally that exceeds all of the season’s new musicals. The takings have topped the potential gross for the Broadhurst for the third straight week, suggesting that producers have been able to goose their earnings by selling ever more premium tickets at $247 a pop. READ FULL STORY

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