Tonys Briefing: Tony Awards 2018: What to Watch For


But watch for a small musical with little name recognition and no razzle dazzle to triumph over its much better known and better funded competitors.

“The Band’s Visit,” an achingly delicate 90-minute show about an Egyptian police orchestra that for a single night is stranded in an Israeli desert town, is likely to beat out “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” — the most nominated shows — for the coveted best new musical prize. (“Frozen” is the fourth nominee.)

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Tony Shalhoub, Ari’el Stachel and Katrina Lenk were all nominated for their performances in “The Band’s Visit.”

Credit
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Also noteworthy: “The Band’s Visit” would be the fifth best new musical in a row to come out of the nonprofit theater world. The show began its life Off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company before transferring last fall.

The show, adapted from a 2007 Israeli film, features songs by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses; it was directed by David Cromer, and the lead producer is Orin Wolf.

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The boy wizard is a stage star.

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The “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” ensemble.

Credit
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Harry Potter conquered publishing. He broke box-office records on film. And now he’s off to a strong start on Broadway.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a magically theatrical two-part drama that is designed as a sequel to the seven books, is expected to win the Tony for best new play.

The play is unlike any nonmusical event that preceded it, as a spectacle and as an investment. And the theater industry, despite some leeriness about creeping commercialism, has embraced it because of the talent brought to the story and the staging.

“Cursed Child” was written by Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, who wrote the novels; John Tiffany, who directed the play; and Mr. Thorne. The lead producers are Sonia Friedman, Colin Callender and Ms. Rowling.

The play began its life in London, won a boatload of Olivier Awards and is still running there, and the producers are already planning a third production in Melbourne, Australia.

The New York production cost a record-breaking (for a play) $35.5 million to capitalize and tens of millions more to clear out the Lyric Theater (which Cirque du Soleil had been using) and redo it (quite beautifully, by the way).

He’s born to win (without even competing).

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Bruce Springsteen has extended his Broadway concert run through December.

Credit
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Bruce Springsteen is getting a special Tony Award just for being Bruce Springsteen.

Well, actually, it’s a little more complicated: He’s being recognized for his ecstatically reviewed and totally sold-out show, “Springsteen on Broadway,” during which he sings stripped-down versions of some of his best-known songs and tells stories from his memoir. The show opened in October and is scheduled to close in December.

Other prizes that were announced before the broadcast: the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber — one of the most successful musical theater writers and producers in history — is getting a lifetime achievement award, as is Chita Rivera, a revered Broadway dancer and actor whose credits include originating the role of Anita in “West Side Story.”

Mr. Lloyd Webber has already won seven Tony Awards, including for “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera”; Ms. Rivera has won as a performer in “The Rink” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

And a New York Times photographer, Sara Krulwich, has already become the first journalist recognized with a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theater, for her decades of photographing Broadway shows. Her award was given on Monday.

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