Tony Awards Tournament: Best Musical 2010 to 2019 (Part 4)

Before continuing the tournament, I would like to pay tribute to Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who passed away from COVID-19 on July 5. Cordero had scene-stealing talent—his imposing 6ft, 5in frame making him a perfect fit for menacing roles. I saw Cordero perform in five shows: The Toxic Avenger, Rock of Ages, Bullets Over Broadway, Waitress, and A Bronx Tale. In The Toxic Avenger, Cordero threw himself with full manic energy into the role of nerd turned environmental superhero turned political. In Bullets Over Broadway, Cordero earned a Tony nomination for his turn as a mafia bodyguard with a secret talent for fixing bad scripts. Cordero will be greatly missed by the Broadway community. He is survived by his wife Amanda Kloots and his 9-month-old son.

Nick Cordero in his various roles. He starred as Melvin Ferd and as the titular superhero in The Toxic Avenger (with Celina Carvajal); as Cheech in Bullets Over Broadway (with Zach Braff); and as Sonny in A Bronx Tale (with Hudson Loverro)

Tournament Recap — the Final Four

Now that we are down to the elusive Final Four, trying to find flaws in any of the competitors is just nit-picking. Therefore, in this semi-final round I am going to celebrate the two musicals not moving to the finals with a consolation prize focusing on a Tony that each musical did not win in its respective year.

Dear Evan Hansen vs. Hamilton

Winner: Hamilton
Dear Evan Hansen consolation prize: Best Scenic Design

I have discussed how Dear of Hansen captures the fears and anxieties of today’s teenagers. The scenic design by David Korns embodies the paradoxical relationships we have with social media. During critical moments characters are surrounded by digital messages—big, small, relevant, immaterial, supportive, antagonistic. For Evan Hansen, this overload of technology contributes to his anxiety and his perception that no would listen to anything he has to say. The marvel of Korns’s work is that the flashing lights and moving screens do not distract from the characters on stage. Instead, they highlight that all of the characters feel this same sense of isolation at various times. Oddly enough, Dear Evan Hansen’s 9 Tony nominations did not include a nod for scenic design. My only explanation is the nominating committee fell for the allure of lavish sets in shows like Hello Dolly! and failed to grasp the more complex accomplishments of Evan Hansen‘s design.

Hamilton moves to the finals, but Dear Evan Hansen is worthy of its multi-year distinction as the second hottest musical ticket on Broadway.

Fun Home vs. Come From Away

Winner: Come From Away
Fun Home consolation prize: Best Featured Actress, Sydney Lucas

Sydney Lucas (with Michael Cerveris) in the iconic opening scene.

Fun Home lasted about a year and a half on Broadway, which is an achievement for a small-cast musical based on a very literary, autobiographical graphic novel. Alison Bechdel is split into three characters. Here oldest characterization is searching to find a reason behind her father’s suicide. Medium Alison is navigating the awkward first year when she acknowledged that she was a lesbian. However, Small Alison is the backbone for the entire show, and the actress playing her must convey innocence even as the audience begins to piece together the mysteries of her father. Why does Bruce tell her that he is “a bad man” when he is on his way to court? Where does Bruce sneak out to in the middle of the night in New York, leaving his kids alone in an apartment? Sydney Lucas singing “Ring of Keys” was the stand-out moment of the 2015 Tony Awards, and her brilliant performance lives on in Fun Home’s soundtrack.

Come From Away is a bigger, more universal musical making this particular bracket a mismatch, but Fun Home would be my choice in a tournament consisting just of the smaller musicals.

That leaves us with the final two shows: Hamilton and Come From Away. Check back soon to see which will be named the best Broadway musical of the 2010 decade.

Tony Awards Tournament: Best Musical 2010 to 2019 (Part 4)

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