Fans of musical theater can listen to tracks from productions nominated for Tonys for Best Musical and Best Musical Revival in advance of this year’s awards ceremony. Check out our collection below of songs and excerpts, streams of cast albums, and behind-the-scenes video.
The 73rd Tony Awards will be presented live on Sunday, June 9, from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The ceremony, hosted by James Corden, will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and on CBS All Access.
NOMINEES FOR BEST MUSICAL
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations”
It’s a well-worn cliché that pop and rock musicians provide “the soundtrack of our lives,” even though it’s true. But it’s even more true in the case of the Broadway musical about the founding members of The Temptations; the cherished songs here become the soundtrack of their lives.
The cast album is a roster of cherished ballads and pop/soul hits from the 1960s and ’70s, interlaced with narrative that tells the story of The Temptations’ founding members: Melvin Franklin (Jawan M. Jackson), Eddie Kendricks (Tony nominee Jeremy Pope), David Ruffin (Tony nominee Ephraim Sykes), Otis Williams (Tony nominee Derrick Baskin) and Paul Williams (James Harkness), from their beginnings as the “no-hit wonders” of Motown, to their status as one of the bestselling groups of all time.
The performances have a recognizable and welcome, smooth swagger, while the storytelling gives the music a context in the lives and loves of working musicians/celebrities not readily apparent to anyone who’d first heard these songs on the radio. There was plenty of drama behind the scenes, in an industry that only gradually became more accepting of black artists, and out of it came music that evolved with the raucous times – by turns heartfelt, earthy, joyful, angry, rueful and beatific.
The 1966 song, written by Smokey Robinson, was one of the last featuring Kendricks as lead singer, signaling changes that would come in both the vocal harmonies of the group and its musical direction.
Later songs from The Temptations’ canon include:
“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”
Watch Ephraim Sykes, James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Derrick Baskin and Jeremy Pope perform an a capella version of “My Girl”:
You can stream the original Broadway cast album of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):
The original Broadway cast album of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” (UME) is available on CD (via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and via Digital Download (Amazon and iTunes).
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” (nominated for 12 Tony Awards) is currently playing at the Imperial Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
One of two Broadway musicals adapted from hit movies, “Beetlejuice” is the supernatural comedy based on Tim Burton’s 1988 romp starring Michael Keaton as a demon who helps a pair of recently-deceased spirits spook the flesh-and-blood folks who have taken up residence in their house – ghosthunting in reverse.
Tony nominee Alex Brightman (previously nominated for “School of Rock”) stars as the hyper-manic Beetlejuice, while Sophia Anne Caruso plays the goth girl Lydia, whose obsession with death brings her in contact with some very bizarre characters.
The music and lyrics are by Tony nominee Eddie Perfect, who also provided songs and vocal arrangements for another monstrous musical, “King Kong.”
A spirited Sophia Anne Caruso appears in this music video performing Lydia’s one-sided conversation with her dead mother.
You held my hand
And life came easy
Now jokes don’t land
And no one sees me
Nothing seems to fit
Mamma is this it?
Are you receiving?
I want something to believe in
You can stream the track “The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing” featuring Alex Brightman, from the original Broadway cast album of “Beetlejuice” by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear tracks in full):
The original Broadway cast album of “Beetlejuice” (Ghostlight Records/Warner Bros.) will be available June 7 via Digital Download (Amazon and iTunes), and on CD at a date TBA.
“Beetlejuice” (nominated for 8 Tony Awards) is currently playing at the Imperial Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
This “folk opera” by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell – developed both through stagings and her 2010 concept album – transposes the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the underworld, into a hellscape that can look and sound suspiciously like Depression-era New Orleans.
Narrated by Hermes (Tony nominee André De Shields) and a chorus of Fates, the music traces the doomed lovers Orpheus (Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (Tony nominee Eva Noblezada), for whom music might be a salvation. Presented Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2016 by director Rachel Chavkin (a recent Tony nominee for “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”), the show has been reworked for Broadway, with alterations of the story and lyrics.
Mitchell’s score (she also wrote the book and lyrics) brilliantly evokes New Orleans jazz and blues, performed by an on-stage band.
Until the Broadway cast album of “Hadestown” is available June 7, we can hear excerpts from the 2016 live recording performed by the New York Theatre Workshop cast (which featured many of the same actors).
“Road to Hell”
It’s an old song
It’s an old tale from way back when
It’s an old song
But we’re gonna sing it again
Hermes introduces us to the tragic tale with a surprisingly upbeat take on the arrival of souls in the underworld. “It’s a love song,” he declaims. Naturally.
“Livin’ It Up On Top”
Tony nominee Amber Gray, who had a showstopper in “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” delivers again in the celebratory “Livin’ It Up On Top.”
“Why We Build the Wall”
The fearsome King of the Underworld, Hades (the imposing Tony nominee Patrick Page) thunderously delivers a song conceived years before any acquired political message of the current day.
In advance of the Broadway cast album, you can stream the live recording of the 2016 Off-Broadway “Hadestown” by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):
The original Broadway cast album of “Hadestown” (Atlantic Records) will be available June 7 via Digital Download, and on CD at a later date.
“Hadestown” (nominated for 14 Tony Awards) is currently playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
A musical comedy with music and lyrics by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (whose previous credits include “Elf” and “The Wedding Singer”), “The Prom” was inspired by stories of anti-LGBTQ hysteria, like the true tale of a small Midwest town divided when a female high school student wanted to take another girl to her prom, resulting in parents creating a “secret prom” to which she wasn’t invited.
“The Prom” follows the antics of a quartet of struggling actors who decide they’ll travel to Indiana in support of the lesbian high schooler, for not entirely altruistic reasons (after all, their Broadway show, “Eleanor! The Eleanor Roosevelt Musical,” closed on opening night, and they could use some good PR).
The score takes aim at its pompous actors and theatrical tropes, as well as small town sanctimony and homophobia, all in support of the show’s built-in excuse to dance. Much of the score’s style sounds like classic Broadway tunes, the kind you’d hear Al Jolson sing, if Jolson ever sang about lesbians.
Show people-turned-activists Barry (Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas), Dee Dee (Tony nominee Beth Leavel), Trent (Christopher Sieber) and Angie (Angie Schworer) express their determination to change the hearts and minds of folks in Indiana, whom they view, uhm, less than generously.
We’re gonna help that little lesbian
Whether she likes it or not
When you’re a legendary thespian
First you help the distressed
Then you help the distraught
We’re going down to where the necks are red
And lack of dentistry thrives
Why sing and dance, when you can take a stance
And know you’re truly changing lives
It’s “promposal” time, and Emma (Tony nominee Beth Leavel) sings a sweet song with girlfriend Alyssa (Isabelle McCalla).
And turned my life around entirely
And that’s ’cause
And look what happened to me
And soon it’s time to share it publicly
In this behind-the-scenes video Beth Level records “The Lady’s Improving”:
You can stream the original Broadway cast album of “The Prom” by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):
The original Broadway cast album of “The Prom” (Masterworks Broadway) is available on CD (via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and via Digital Download (Amazon and iTunes).
“The Prom” (nominated for 7 Tony Awards) is currently playing at the Longacre Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
This is the second Tony-nominated musical this year to have been adapted from a hit movie, in this case the 1982 comedy classic starring Dustin Hoffman as a failing actor who wins his first big role, fame, and a healthy dose of feminism by impersonating a woman in order to land a prized part.
The setting has been changed from that of a ridiculous TV soap opera to a ridiculous Broadway musical – so apropos! – while the contortions that Michael Dorsey (Tony nominee Santino Fontana) has to go through to simultaneously pretend to be a woman and woo an actress have been updated for the #MeToo era.
The music and lyrics by David Yazbek (a Tony-winner last year for “The Band’s Visit”) feature commentaries on show business and gender dynamics that can stab and make you laugh at the same time.
“I Won’t Let You Down”
A falsetto Fontana sings an anthem as Dorothy for “her” audition.
“What’s Gonna Happen”
Tony nominee Sarah Stiles gives a wonderful performance in this toe-tapping samba that any wannabee Broadway star will instantly recognize about the travails an aspiring actor or actress has to go through just to get an audition, let alone a job. It’s a fun spin on “A Chorus Line” songs about gypsy tales of overcoming competition, sexism and homophobia to accomplish their dreams.
“Jeff Sums It Up”
Tony nominee Andy Grotelueschen, as Michael/Dorothy’s roommate Jeff, perfectly encapsulates the farcical life that Michael is leading, in language that would be at home in “The Book of Mormon.”
“Gone, Gone, Gone”
Julie (Tony nominee Lilli Cooper) and a female trio perform a nightclub number.
The original Broadway cast album of “Tootsie” (Decca Broadway) will be available digitally June 7, and on CD August 16.
“Tootsie” (nominated for 11 Tony Awards) is currently playing at the Marquis Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
NOMINEES FOR BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL
“Kiss Me, Kate“
There are two productions nominated for Best Musical Revival this year, each from giants of musical theater.
The first is Cole Porter’s take on marital spats on stage (inspired by the acting couple Lunt and Fontanne), in which dueling ex-lovers get in the way of, but finally resolve, a theater company’s performance of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
It was Porter’s most successful show when it debuted in 1948, yet this is only the third Broadway revival, the last being 20 years ago. The cast brushing up on its Shakespeare this time is headed by Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara (a previous winner for “The King and I”) and Fred Graham.
To hear excerpts from “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” and “Too Darn Hot,” click on the video player below:
No singing, but Porter’s bouncing music is translated to dance in the “Too Darn Hot” number:
This production’s cast recording will be released by Ghostlight Records on digital download June 7 and on CD June 28.
The Roundabout Theatre Company production of “Kiss Me, Kate” is playing at Studio 54, New York City through June 30 | Ticket information
The wheat last waved on Broadway in a 2002 production starring Hugh Jackman, in the largest theatre on the Great White Way. This reworking of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, in a house less than half the size that’s dressed like a town hall, is purposely more intimate, making the music shine in unexpected ways.
Previously staged at New York’s Bard College and last year at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, this production features a pared-down cast and a seven-piece bluegrass band bringing the music to the fore without the lush orchestrations associated with the earlier versions, or the 1955 movie. It’s more hootenanny than theatrical Holy Writ, with orchestrations and arrangements by Tony-nominee Daniel Kluger.
The album for this production sadly won’t be available until June 28, but you can enjoy these excerpts featuring the down-home cast members taking time-worn standards and giving them a delightful country spin.
“The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”
Tony nominee Damon Daunno, repeating his St. Ann’s Warehouse performance as Curly, strums this come-hither ditty with nonchalance.
“I Cain’t Say No”
Tony nominee Ali Stroker, as Ado Annie, is a fiery spark plug in her joyful rendition of “I Cain’t Say No.” Watch out, guys!
There is also this featurette about the production with excerpts from “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and “People Will Say We’re in Love”:
This video goes behind the scenes of the cast album recording, as Daniel Kluger discusses his orchestrations.
The Broadway cast album of “Oklahoma!” (Decca Broadway) will be available June 28 on CD (via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and via Digital Download (Amazon and iTunes).
“Oklahoma!” (nominated for 8 Tony Awards) is playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre, New York City | Ticket information
In June Broadway Records will release its third annual compilation of music from the past year. “2019 Tony Award Season” features cuts not just from the shows nominated for Best Musical but also “Head Over Heels,” “Gettin’ the Band Back Together,” “Be More Chill,” “The Cher Show,” “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” and “King Kong.”
“2019 Tony Award Season” (Broadway Records) will be available June 14 on CD and via Digital Download.