The Tony Awards were established in 1947 when the American Theatre Wing decided to create a program that would commend outstanding accomplishments in theater. The award is named Tony after Antoinette Perry, who led the Wing at the time.
Since its inception the Tony Awards have been a sought after trophy by anyone who attempted to put their name up in lights on Broadway.
Some musicals are winners and some are not, but who cares about the latter. We love a winner. So here we go with our favorite musicals to have won a Tony Award.
1 – Hairspray
Originally a movie by John Waters this story tells the tale of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teeny bopper in the sixties right as the civil rights movement begins. Tracy lives in Baltimore and goes to school with her friend Penny.
The most popular show with teens at the time is the Corny Collins show where only
chosen dancers are allowed to show off their moves. The star of the show is Amber VonTussle and Link Larkin. They announce that the Corny Collins Show is looking for new talent and Tracy convinces Penny to skip school with her and audition.
At the audition Tracy wows everyone but Amber and her mother Velma, who is the producer of the show.
Meanwhile, a racist theme emerges when we realize that not only are the dancers primarily white kids, the black teens are only allowed one day dubbed “Negro Day” and the white groups keep stealing their songs.
Tracy, Link, and Penny become friends with the black teens and decide it’s time to take a stand. The Corny Collins show will be integrated! Link backs out but Tracy refuses. She becomes a fugitive from the police and goes into hiding.
Still, her sense of right and wrong over power her fear and Tracy shows up on the Corny Collins show with new hair and a message.
2 – Guys and Dolls
Nathan Detroit is a New York City hoodlum who hosts a traveling crap game for all the other street folk. Unfortunately, this time, he doesn’t have the “cool grand” he needs to get a new game going, or a place to hold it. While dealing with that stress he has his fourteen-year girlfriend Adelaide hounding him to get married. What’s a musical hoodlum to do?
His buddy Sky Masterson, is in town looking for some action. Sky is known to take on any bet so Nathan says that he, Sky, can’t take a woman of Nathan’s choosing to Cuba for dinner that night. Sky, loving the challenge accepts the bet for one thousand dollars. To Sky’s dismay Nathan picks Sarah Brown, the head of the local mission who continually tries to save sinners.
Sky, to win his bet with Nathan, proposes to Sarah that if she were to go to Cuba with him he would fill her mission with sinners. He does this when learning that the higher ups are threatening to shut her down due to low attendance. She agrees and they go.
Meanwhile, Nathan is disappointed in losing the bet especially because he doesn’t have the thousand dollars to pay his debt to Sky. He decides to hold his musical traveling crap game in the mission while they are gone.
When in Cuba Sky and Sarah fall in love, but she finds out about the crap game when they return and she blames Sky.
3 – Cabaret
Set in 1931 Berlin, Brian Roberts, a Cambridge University student moves there to further his study of the German language. His plans are to teach English while he supports himself. While living inexpensively he becomes friends with another American Sally Bowles. She is outrageous woman who sings at the local and quite risky Kit Kat Club. The style of the venue is cabaret. Brian gets sucked into her world and she tries to seduce him but Brian is a homosexual. He just hasn’t consummated the decision yet with anyone. They still have a love affair.
Next we have Fritz Wendel, who is poor and has no other desire than to live off rich women for the rest of his life. He befriends Natalia, who is an heir to a fortune, and he tries to woo her for her money. Ironically he falls in love with her but she rejects him because she suspects his motives. Natalia is also Jewish and cannot see past his religious leanings.
Another friend of Sally and Brian is Baron Maximiian von Heune who sees the world in the same way Sally does. He is wealthy and not afraid to treat his friends.
All the while these dramatic scenes are unfolding the Nazi’s are taking over Germany and the group soon realizes that life, both good and bad, will continue on and on. Find out where Cabaret will be showing today!
4 – The Sound of Music
How many times can we tell you of the love story of Maria and Captain VonTrapp? It would surprise us to learn that anyone out there has not been exposed to this story but just in case we will give a brief synopsis of this beloved musical. Maria gets a job as a governess to the VonTrapp children. At first it would seem that she and the Captain do not like each other at all. In fact, the Captain has a girlfriend who he visits regularly in Vienna. Still, his adoration of the pretty and musical Maria is too much to hold back and they fall in love while realizing that somewhere in their lives they must have done something right to be so lucky to find this love. They marry and the children are thrilled.
Still, as with Cabaret, the threat of the Nazi party overshadows the spectacular musical numbers that children have been singing for generations.
Of course there is the side love story of Lisel and Rolf but unfortunately their romance is short lived when Rolf decides to give up her family when they are hiding from the Nazis.
As we all know, the VonTrapp family does escape the Nazi grasp and they make it safely out of Austria before the Third Reich takes over. Fortunately for us, all of this serious occupation comes with a lesson on do, re, and mi.
For The Sound Of Music shows around the US, check out here!
5 – The Lion King
Adapted from a Disney movie, the Lion King is the story of Simba. He is the only son of Mufasa, King of the entire jungle. The opening scene is a huge showing of all the animals that inhabit their kingdom. The singers tell everyone about the “Circle of Life” and what that means to them all. They know, that one day, Simba will sit on the throne and become king.
Scar, Simba’s uncle is not happy with that and orchestrates a little accident that kills Mufasa. During all the confusion after his father dies, Simba runs off to hide fearing for his own life. Simba keeps his distance from the animals he once knew and bops around the forest with a couple of new friends. Still, his destiny is written and Simba realizes he cannot deny who he is anymore. Simba returns to find Scar ruling over the land and he wins back his throne.
This particular Broadway musical is unique in its sets and costume designs. When watching the performers, they seem like puppets or the real animals themselves. This production deserves special accolades for this feat. While the others on our list boast memorable songs this one propels the viewing into a world they have never known.
Find tickets for both Lion King’s Broadway performances and North American Tour here!
6 – My Fair Lady
Based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, who is a poor working class woman who speaks with a cockney accent. Professor Henry Higgins attempts to prove to his friend Colonel Pickering that he can change this low class creature to thing of beauty and high-class, and, he insists, no one would know the difference. They go through a series of tests and lessons and although it seems like Eliza will never learn how to present herself as a cultured member of high society, she does.
She fools them all. Of course, Henry Higgins takes all the credit without ever acknowledging all the work Eliza did to change herself. She is heartbroken at his selfishness but still realizes that she loves him. Eliza is courted by a suitor who would most likely treat her with more respect and dignity than Henry Hill could muster for anyone, let alone a lowly flower girl. Still, Eliza chooses to return to Professor Hill instead of marrying the young man that has fallen in love with her.
Eliza realizes that even though a marriage to the young man would mean security and a new life, she doesn’t care. Eliza would rather stay with her abusive instructor.
Sure, this doesn’t seem like the right choice and it is a bit misogynistic. Still, the Tony Award winning musical gives us songs like Wouldn’t It Be Loverly and with a Little Bit of Luck so who are we to scream about feminism if the songs are good enough. Stay tuned on their website for upcoming shows!
For the best of musicals around the world, click here and start watching today!