The award for Best Original Score is still one of the most coveted Tony Awards. This year the race is also one of the most competitive, pitting Michael R. Jacksonthe music and lyrics of “A Strange Loop” against Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss‘ work for “SIX: The Musical.” Over the past few weeks, “A Strange Loop” has edged out “SIX” in our combined ratings as the undisputed favorite for best musical, does that also mean it has an edge in the scoring contest? How often do the two rewards go together?
LOOK our exclusive video interview with contestant Tony L Morgan Lee (‘A Strange Loop’)
While it might seem intuitive that the show crowned Best Musical would also win Best Score, recent history shows how often the awards diverge. Since 2000, only 13 award-winning shows have also won for their score, a slight majority of the time: “The Producers” (2001), “Hairspray” (2003), “Avenue Q” (2004), “Spring Awakening” (2007 ), “In the Heights” (2008), “Memphis” (2010), “The Book of Mormon” (2011), “Kinky Boots” (2013), “Fun Home” (2015), “Hamilton” (2016) , “Dear Evan Hansen” (2017), “The Band Visit” (2018) and “Hadestown” (2019). While this data appears to show some price correlation, the details of some of these other races make the relationship less clear.
Of those eight Best Musical winners who didn’t prevail for their scores, four had music and lyrics that weren’t even eligible. In 2000, director and choreographer Susan StromanThe dance performance “Contact” won Best Musical, but its score consisted of existing music and was therefore ineligible; Elton John won instead for the rock opera “Aida”. A similar situation occurred in 2006, when “Jersey Boys” was crowned best musical, but since it draws on the catalog of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, he could not match in scoring and “The Drowsy Chaperone” prevailed instead. In 2012, the musical “Once” won the top honor, but since the majority of its music was from the film that inspired the show, it didn’t dispute the score; that award went to “Newsies” instead, another show based on a movie that added enough new music and lyrics to be deemed eligible. Just last year, the top three musical nominees were jukebox shows: “Moulin Rouge!” was named best, but the play “A Christmas Carol” won for its score in a historic premiere.
LOOK our exclusive video interview with contestant Tony John-Andrew Morrison (‘A Strange Loop’)
In the last 21 seasons of Broadway, only four shows have won Musical but lost Score. In 2002, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” won the top honor of the night, but its score of Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan lost to “Urinetown”. Three years later, “Spamalot” has established itself as the best new musical, but Adam Guettel“The Light in the Piazza” beat him for the score. In 2009, Elton John returned to Broadway with Best Musical winner “Billy Elliot the Musical”, but lost the Tony for his score at Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey for “Next to normal”. Most recently, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” won the highest honor but lost the score to Jason Robert Brown“Madison County Bridges”. In these four cases, the shows that won Musical and Score were both nominated in both categories, making them all head-to-head contests for the two awards that yielded different winners.
It seems pretty safe to predict “A Strange Loop” for the top score, then, because the top musical has only lost the score in four of the past 21 years. It doesn’t hurt that with the exception of last season, the trophies have gone hand in hand for five consecutive years, from 2015 with “Fun Home” to 2019 with “Hadestown.” The only thorn in the side might be how much of a sensation the “SIX” score has become. The show is less of a conventional “music book” than “A Strange Loop,” of course, because the conceit of the whole show is that Henry VIII’s six wives tell their stories through pop songs. The score is front and center throughout, is fully infectious, and has now been captured on two cast records that have become juggernauts in terms of sales and streams. Even though Tony’s recent history points to winning “A Strange Loop,” “SIX” is just the kind of landmark hit that bucks that trend.
TO PREDICT the 2022 Tony Awards until June 12
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