Shut out: the Broadway musicals that received no Tony Award nominations

Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz and the Company of The Heart of Rock and Roll – Photo by Matthew Murphy
The Heart of Rock and Roll
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Of the fifteen new musicals that opened on Broadway last season, four of them did not receive any Tony Award nominations. (By comparison, the Alicia Keys bio/jukebox musical “Hell’s Kitchen” received 13 nominations, with “The Outsiders” close behind at 12 nominations.) Likewise, of the five new musical revivals, two received no nominations. 

Let’s take a closer look at the six musicals that received no love this year from the Tony Awards nominators.

Once Upon a One More Time (opened on June 22 at the Marquis Theatre and ran 83 performances): This campy and glittery jukebox musical mishmash, which combined the pop hits recorded by Britney Spears with various fairy tale characters and a feminist viewpoint, was like a rehash of “& Juliet” (which does the same thing with “Romeo & Juliet” and pop songs performed by Spears and others), “Bad Cinderella” (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s short-lived bad girl retake on “Cinderella”), and “Six” (which reinvents the six wives of Henry VIII as pop stars such as Spears). 

Gutenberg! The Musical! (opened on Oct. 12 at the James Earl Jones Theatre and ran 125 performances): Almost two decades since its Off-Off-Broadway premiere, the scrappy two-hander parody of mega Broadway musicals received a high-profile Broadway production of its very own. While Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad (the original duo of “The Book of Mormon”) once again made for a terrific pair, the Broadway production managed to feel both overdone and undercooked. However, it won attention on social media by having a celeb make a walk-on cameo at the end of virtually every performance and ultimately recouped its $6.75 million investment costs.

Harmony (opened Nov. 13 at the Barrymore Theatre and ran 96 performances): Following a quarter century of development, Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s original bio musical about the Comedian Harmonists (an all-male, half-Jewish, half-Gentile, German musical group that enjoyed international fame in the late 1920s and early 1930s up until Hitler’s rise to power) finally made it to Broadway. While no one deny the show’s relevance given the state of the world, “Harmony” contained a surprisingly weak score and felt like an inferior, sanitized version of “Cabaret.” Even so, one wishes that Chip Zien (who played an elderly version of one of the band members and narrated the show) had at least received a nomination.

How to Dance in Ohio (opened Dec. 10 at the Belasco Theatre and ran 72 performances): Despite its short run, this musical based on a 2015 HBO about autistic teens as they prepare for a formal dance documentary broke new ground by having the characters played by autistic actors. Fittingly, the show will receive a special Drama Desk Award for authentic autistic representation.

The Heart of Rock and Roll (opened April 22 at the James Earl Jones Theatre): This jukebox musical built around the songs of Huey Lewis and The News (such as “The Power of Love,” “Do You Believe in Love,” “Hip to Be Square,” and “If This Is It”) is currently struggling at the box office, which leaves its future in question. But for what it’s worth, it is a polished, feel-good, unapologetically cheesy and nostalgic musical comedy built on the tropes of the 1980s rom-com. It deserved at least a few nominations – and maybe even a slot in the Best Musical category.

The Wiz (opened April 17 at the Marquis Theatre): The first Broadway revival of the super soul,” historically groundbreaking, all-Black retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” in decades is technically a hit, but it is also a major letdown, with the look and feel of a second-rate, low-budget touring production and problematic, long-winded revisions to the original book, and a number of underwhelming performances.