'Hamilton' and Beyond: Tony Nominees at Your Library

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'Hamilton' and Beyond: Tony Nominees at Your Library

So the 2016 Tony nominations are out.  You may not be able to get to NYC to see these shows, but you have a library, a computer, and an imagination and sometimes that’s enough. (Trust me, the version of Rent I pictured in my head was way better than the one I eventual saw.)  Here are some of the nominees and some resources to help you out.

Best Musical


The musical that answers the musical question “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished, in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”  Tickets for this show are nearly impossible to get.  (Although you can always try the digital lottery on days where there is an 8 pm show and a 5 pm Acela.  Not that that’s worked for me so far.)    But DCPL has the bestselling book about the show, Hamilton: The Revolution which includes the complete libretto..  We also have Ron Chernow’s biography the source for Lin Manuel Miranda’s show.  The soundtrack is available through many streaming services, and last February the cast performed the opening number at the Grammys, so at least you can see that.  It’s almost like being there, right?  Right?


Based on the 2007 film, Waitress tells the story of a unhappily married waitress and her wish for a better life.  Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles wrote the book and the music and you can listen to the soundtrack on Freegal, the library's streaming and download service.   

Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

This musical is about the making of the groundbreaking musical 1920's musical Shuffle Along.  Both shows share the same music, written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle.  You can listen to the original soundtrack on Freegal.   You can learn more about the original show and the new production (starring Audra McDonald) in this clip from the PBS NewsHour. 

Best Revival of a Musical

Spring Awakening

Unfortunately, Deaf West innovative revival of the 2006 musical, about a group of teenagers coming of age in 1890’s Germany, has closed.  You can still see clips online though, and there will be a tour in 2017.  While you wait for the tour, you can read Spring Awakening: In the Flesh a book written by the creators of the original show.  It includes tons of behind the scenes information, costume and set design sketches and the complete libretto.   You might also want to read the original 1906 play by Frank Wedekind on which the musical was based.

Fiddler on the Roof

C’mon, it’s Fiddler on the Roof.   While this new production- starring Danny Burnstein and Jessica Hecht- is supposed to be especially good, it’s really hard to screw up this masterpiece.   (To wit: the show has had five revivals and almost all of them have Tony nominations.)   So on one hand you could watch the movie starring Topol, or on the other hand you could listen to the original Broadway recording starring Zero Mostel.  It’s all good.

Also, for your reading pleasure, we have Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof and, if you want to go to the source material, there is Tevye the Dairyman by Sholem Aleichem. 

You have “If a Were a Rich Man” stuck in your head now, don’t you?  Embrace it.  It’s a thing of beauty.

The Color Purple

The revival of The Color Purple starring Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks is supposed to be spectacular and, some say, even better than the original.  The original is pretty great too though and the library has the original soundtrack.  Also if you haven’t checked out our fantastic Black Studies Center at MLK Memorial Library, you can head on down there and read The Color Purple: a Memory Book of the Musical which includes the complete libretto.   Then, of course, there is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel on which the musical is based.

Best Play

The Humans

Stephen Karam's The Humans (like seemingly 33% of all American plays written after say, 1920) takes place at a family gathering.  There is arguing and turmoil and all that you would expect from such a play.  However, there is apparently something about it that apparently tips it over into psychological horror territory.  I don’t what it is, because I’m 4th in line for our eBook copy.  But I’m intrigued.  The Humans is nominated for Best play and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer prize, so I’m guessing it’s a good read.   


Danai Gurira's Eclipsed tells the story of 4 women who are forced to be the “brides” of a cruel commander during the Second Liberian civil war.  It was workshopped first at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company here in DC.  It's a brutal but stunning play about humanity during wartime.   

Best Revival of a Play


David Harrower’s 2005 drama Blackbird, about a woman confronting the man with has been experiencing a lot of renewed interest lately.  The 2015 Broadway revival, along with it’s stars Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, were all nominated for Tonys and a movie version entitled Una should be coming out later this year starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn.   However, if you don’t feel like watching two people argue really intensely for 90 minutes, might I suggest reading the play?   

The Crucible and A View From the Bridge

Arthur Miller is experiencing a bit a revival lately, partly because last year was the 100th anniversary of his birth and partly because he's just awesome.  Two productions of his work: The Crucible (starring Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo and Saoirse Ronan) and A View from the Bridge (starring Mark Strong) are nominated for best revival of a play this year.  Now might be a good time to read (or re-read) Miller's works. (All of his plays are available in this new volume.) If you didn't like his work in high school, give it another try, trust me.  

So there you go.  You're all set for the Tonys on June 12.   And who knows?  When you see the live performances on the show you just might think "Hmmm. My version was better."