The final preview category before Tuesday's nomination announcements is Best Musical, which looks to be incredibly competitive this year:
1. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - This productions is currently rising to the front runner status, and it is not hard to see why. It has been running since last fall, with good box office, and stars Tony winners Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham. It also knocked it out of the park with 12 Drama Desk Nominations, and featured orchestrations from EGOT winner Jonathan Tunick. While it is not the runaway favorite like The Book of Mormon, it certainly enters the race tomorrow as a strong contender.
2. If/Then - Idina Menzel is a Broadway legend, a personal favorite, and rocks out pretty much whatever she does. So it is no surprise that she apparently is lighting up the stage again in If/Then, as well as some of her co-stars Tony Winner LaChanze, and fellow Rent alum Anthony Rapp. They seem to be garnering a lot of buzz, but the production as a whole is a bit mixed. Some love the production, others think that it doesn't quite fit all together. Still with the cast is fantastic, the pedigree of the show includes the team that brought you the Pulitzer and Tony winner Next to Normal, so it will be hard for voters to pass up on a ballot.
3. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical - Carole King is a legend, and if this year's Grammy ceremony is any indication, she still has a lot to offer the music industry. She apparently also has a great story to tell on the Broadway stage, and while a few mixed reviews are in the mix (no pun intended), the reaction to the tribute to the Grammy-winning legend has been mostly positive. Apparently it really captures her heart and soul, and Jessie Mueller, a previous Tony nominee, is said to be pitch-perfect as King herself. I think that while there are a lot of great choices this year, that fans of King, and of the musical will give it enough support to get into the race.
4. Aladdin - After many success, and a few flops, Disney has tried its hand again with a Broadway musical adaption of Aladdin. It has been a box-office success, which is not surprising. But unlike their version of The Little Mermaid, this production has some pretty decent reviews, some big Drama Desk Nominations under its belt, and a lot of positive buzz from fans of the film that have fallen for the stage version. James Monroe Iglehart is apparently fantastic as the Genie (following in the footsteps of the great vocal performance from Robin Williams in the film), and Tony nominees Clifton Davis and Jonathan Freeman are a part of the supporting cast, lending some Broadway cred to the production. It think it could be a stealth contender this year. Never discount the power of Disney.
5. After Midnight - This particular celebration of jazz has had particular staying power, and is still going strong. It has included guest stars like Babyface, k.d Lang, and others, but its original run (through February), featured Grammy winner and Color Purple alum Fantastia Barrino. Because it rotated so many guest stars, I am not sure how the Tony nominations for the performers will shake out, although if Fantasia is eligible, she could be a strong acting contender. But no matter how the Tony committee has decided the acting awards, this one is one to watch, especially if American Theater Wing voters like it as much as critics have over its impressive run.
6. Bullets Over Broadway - Woody Allen has taken one of his classics to Broadway in the form of Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical. The film did particularly well back in 1994, and earned Dianne Wiest her second Oscar. The stage musical, which features Zach Braff in his Broadway debut, alongside Tony nominees Brooks Ashmanskas, and Rock of Ages star Nick Cordero, has not been as well received. So while is it still a top contender? Because its Woody Allen, a New York staple, who despite recent allegations resurfacing, is still an icon, and you never discount star power.
7. Rocky - The film version of Rocky, like its main character, overcame some tough competition in 1976 including Network, All the President's Men, and Taxi Driver to win the Best Picture Oscar. Could the Broadway musical version accomplish the same feat? Its buzz and stock has certainly been on the rise right as voters were casting their ballots, so don't be surprised if it makes it into the nominations. It has gotten pretty good reviews, and apparently is a visual treat (although ask Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark how that turns out), but once again, it is a stealth contender that has a pedigree that could be enticing.