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Tony Awards: Unusual productions are leading contenders

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(Read caption) 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' stars Alexander Sharp (r.) and Ian Barford (l.).

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Nominees at the Tony Awards, which will be held on June 7, include classic musicals and revivals but also include some unusual contenders that show different can flourish on Broadway.

Some of the productions that got nods this year include “An American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” “The King and I,” and “Skylight.” 

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One of the biggest showdowns at the Tonys this year, the Best Musical prize, comes down to a traditional show versus one that is anything but. “An American in Paris” is based on the classic 1951 musical starring “Singin’ in the Rain” actor Gene Kelly and directed by Vincente Minnelli of “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The plot follows a World War II veteran living in Paris who unknowingly falls in love with an acquaintance’s girlfriend. The production has been praised for its dancing and the Associated Press called the show “gloriously inventive and balletic.”

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What many view as the biggest threat to “American” taking the Best Musical prize, the show “Fun Home,” is a very different animal. “Fun” is based on writer Alison Bechdel’s memoir of growing up with a gay father. The New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote that “Fun” “pumps oxygenating fresh air into the cultural recycling center that is Broadway.” 

Another unusual production, “The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time,” is viewed by many as the frontrunner for Best Play. It centers on a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who has an affinity for numbers and who believes a dog in his neighborhood has been murdered. He decides to track down the culprit.

Adapting protagonist Christopher’s work with numbers was no doubt a daunting task, but Variety writer Marilyn Stasio said the production more than pulled it off with its “inventive designers.” Stasio wrote that the show is “spectacular… a brilliant design team allows us to inhabit the boy’s consciousness on a terrifying journey.”

"Fun Home" is viewed as a strong contender for the Best Musical prize, and if "Fun" and "Dog" both take the big prizes on June 7, then the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League will be rewarding some of the most inventive shows on Broadway in years.