Singing a Victory Song: First-Time Broadway Composers Receive Tony Nominations for Best Score
By Carey Purcell
The nominees for Best Original Score certainly weren't singing the blues on Tuesday morning. Every person but one in this category is a first-time composer for the Broadway stage, and, with his/her Broadway debut, is now nominated for a Tony Award. (Amanda Green, who collaborated with Trey Anastasio on Hands on a Hardbody, has written for Broadway before, but this marks her first nomination.)
Click through to read about each nominee as well as Playbill.com's previous coverage on each production. Read the 2013 Tony Award nominations here.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's music has been heard Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in Dogfight and has inspired "Edge-heads" in social media with their song cycle Edges, which has been performed in more than 200 productions worldwide. They've also adapted Roald Dahl's book "James and the Giant Peach" into a musical for Goodspeed and have been heard on the Disney Channel television show "Johnny and the Sprites."
In A Christmas Story, their lively, old-fashioned score amassed hopeful children's imagined scenes of the Wild West as well as a fantasy kick-line of leg lamps saluting The Old Man winning "A Major Award." Perhaps Pasek and Paul will claim a major award of their own on June 9. Read about how they adapted the film for the stage here.
One would hardly call Anastasio a novice to the stage—he has been a member of the band Phish for 30 years—but Hands on a Hardbody, based on the documentary of people competing to win a new truck, marked his Broadway debut. The twangy, country-inspired score, which introduced the audience to each of the competitors and their backstories, also contained the grit and roughness behind the need for each person to compete for the truck. With the gospel-style a cappella "Praise the Lord," as well as the melancholy "God Answered My Prayers (And He Said No)," Anastasio demonstrated his ability to write for a diverse range of characters. While Hands on a Hardbody has closed, perhaps Anastasio will showcase his talents again in an upcoming season.
Girls just want to have fun, according to Cyndi Lauper, and so do boys in Kinky Boots. A musical adaptation of the film of the same name, Kinky Boots tells the story of a struggling shoe factory owner who collaborates with a drag queen to produce heels that support men's weight. When setting this story to music, the Emmy and Grammy winner composed a score that contains almost as much glitter and glitz as Gregg Barnes' Tony-nominated drag costumes themselves. With everything from large company numbers to spoofs of 1980s power ballads, Lauper's music has the audience singing, "Yeah, yeah!" You might say Kinky Boots lets people see their true colors.
With his wild hair and notoriously heavy eye makeup, Tim Minchin isn't the first man to come to mind when thinking about the composer of a warm-hearted children's musical. And looking at his portfolio of work would not exactly change one's mind – Minchin has played some racy roles on the stage and screen and written numerous songs about his sex scandals, religion and prejudice. Minchin, who said his songs "just happen to be funny," just happened to write a score that is funny, sarcastic and inspiring all at the same time, portraying everything from the rebellious thoughts of a five-year-old girl to the wayward fantasties of a terrorizing school headmistress to a love letter from a man to his television. If all of these songs just "happen to be funny," then the odds for Minchin have been very good. (Read Playbill.com's interview with Minchin here.)
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