Tony Awards 2015: A Guide to This Year's Best Play and Best Musical Nominees

Joan Marcus
Ian Barford and Alex Sharp in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'

A quick primer on the eight shows vying for the top two categories at Sunday night's ceremony.

Broadway's best will be honored at Sunday night's Tony Awards.

Four shows are up for best play, while four more will vie for best musical honors.

For those of you unfamiliar with this year's nominees — or who haven't been able to make a trip to the Great White Way to check them out in person — here's a primer on the eight shows up for the two top categories. And check out THR's guide to the show, including all the nominees, here.

BEST PLAY NOMINEES

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 
Adapted by playwright Simon Stephens from the 2003 novel by British writer Mark Haddon, the story follows Christopher, a brilliant yet challenged 15-year-old who, after being blamed for killing his neighbor’s dog, plays detective to find out the real culprit. In his review, THR chief theater critic David Rooney wrote: “The Curious Incident is a tremendously exciting demonstration of the power of the theater. It makes us reconsider the world around us, without missing a single one of its infinite details.”

Disgraced
Ayad Akhtar's play demonstrates how dinner conversations can go wrong. When a successful Muslim-American lawyer and his artist wife invite a co-worker and her husband over for dinner, it turns out to be a night that horrifies everyone. THR's Rooney wrote in his review: “If Disgraced has sacrificed some of its edge in the move to a commercial mainstage, it’s nonetheless a stimulating, sobering work from a distinctive new American playwright.”

Hand to God
Robert Askins'
play focuses on the limits of faith and morality. When Jason, a shy and religious boy, uses a puppet as his creative outlet, his personality begins to drastically change and his faith is compromised. “Director Von Stuelpnagel and his terrific cast tackle this darkly funny material with a shrewd balance of heightened reality, warped sitcom and underlying pathos, landing all the jokes while never denying the genuine sorrow and anger driving both Jason and Margery to such erratic behavior,” wrote Rooney.

Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Hilary
Mantel and Mike Poulton's play, adapted from novels by Mantel, takes the audience back to the early 1500s. While King Henry VIII desperately wants a male heir, he falls in love with Anne Boleyn and immediately requests an annulment from his current wife. When Anne fails to produce a male child, the cycle begins again. Rooney wrote that although “[Wolf Hall: Part One & Two] might fall short of the pantheon of all-time great stage events, [it] is nonetheless an impressive feat, a compelling drama played our across the canvas of a nation soaked in rain and mud and blood.”

BEST MUSICAL NOMINEES

An American in Paris
The classic love story is about a World War II veteran who decides to restart his life in Paris and become a painter, and the beautiful shop girl he falls for. Rooney wrote: “Not only is [director-choreographer Christopher] Wheeldon’s nuanced command of storytelling through dance front and center, the production also foregrounds a triple-threat revelation in NYC Ballet principal Robert Fairchild, who proves himself more than capable of following in the suave footsteps of Gene Kelly.”

Fun Home
The coming-of-age story is inspired by the graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel about her experiences growing up. As she is trying to write her autobiography, Bechdel is constantly thinking back to her moments as "small" and "medium" Alison. Rooney wrote that “for gay audiences, female or male, the depiction of discovering and embracing one’s sexual identity here will be bittersweet, funny and moving.”

Something Rotten!
This musical takes audiences back to the 1590s, before Broadway was even born. When a local soothsayer predicts the next big thing in theater is singing, dancing and acting all at the same time, Nick and Nigel Bottom go forth and write the world’s first musical. Rooney wrote, “There’s no director-choreographer better equipped to stage such an irreverent homage than Casey Nicholaw, whose adoration for the unbridled excesses of old-school razzle-dazzle has been evident in his work on shows from Spamalot and The Book of Mormon through The Drowsy Chaperone and Aladdin.”

The Visit
This musical portrays the heartbreaking story of a widowed women’s thoroughly plotted revenge. While being the richest women in the world, Claire Zachannassian returns to her hardship-stricken hometown only to find that her arrival carries a horrible price. “The reason to see The Visit even with its flaws is the star, whose brittle vocals cut like ice," Rooney wrote. "[Chita] Rivera’s history with [composer John] Kander and [lyricist Fred] Ebb dates back from Chicago through The Rink to Kiss of the Spider Woman, and there’s no doubting the authority she brings to this problematic but nonetheless fascinating musical.”

 

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