“An American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” “Something Rotten!” and “The Visit”
On June 7, 2015, the Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The most prestigious and significant award is arguably that for Best Musical. This year there are four nominees for that honor: An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The Visit. It will certainly be a tough race, and it is difficult to determine which the favorite will be among Tony voters. A somewhat less prominent Broadway awards ceremony, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, just announced their winners, which may or may not presage the Tony results. Of the five nominees for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, three overlap with the Tony nominees, but Fun Home was excluded from the options, while It Shoulda Been You and The Last Ship were also included. The winner was An American in Paris. Still, many believe that Fun Home and also Something Rotten! have a fighting chance at this year’s awards. The Visit, on the other hand, is a nod to its creators John Kander and Fred Ebb, but there is little chance that show will prove victorious on the big day.
If the critical reaction to these musicals means anything for their Tony prospects, then it does seem that it’s most likely a race between An American in Paris and Fun Home. When An American in Paris opened on April 12, 2015, the New York Times gave it a rave, as did most other critics. Charles Isherwood called the ballet musical adapted from the film of the same name “rhapsodic,” “witty,” and “vivifying.” Of the major press, only David Cote from Time Out New York was on the fence, deeming the quality of the show “patchwork,” though admittedly “lavish,” and believing it to be principally a dance show with a storyline squeezed in between the numbers. As for Fun Home, all the main reviewers were extremely impressed, with Ben Brantley of The New York Times describing it as a universal detective story. He was relieved and revitalized by the breath of fresh air that this show is in comparison to the often recycled nature of Broadway fare. Furthermore, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York found Fun Home to be graceful and moving. As for Something Rotten!, many critics were moved and delighted by this original take on the origin of the musical in Shakespearean times, but the most well regarded critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, vehemently disagreed. He was not impressed by the unchecked enthusiasm on display, and he was bored by the repetitive nature of the wannabe showstopper. Still, many other critics were impressed, such as David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter, who found the show rambunctious and magnificently cheesy. As for The Visit, the reviews were decidedly mixed.
Furthermore, the box office response is interesting to consider in light of the show’s potential at the Tony Awards. Ever since the Tony nominations were announced in late April, An American in Paris has been firmly in the millionaire’s club, which cannot be said of any of the other three nominees. This past week, the week ending May 17, 2015, the show brought in $1,280,111, which represents 87.01% of its gross potential. It was full to 99.9% capacity, which demonstrates a small amount of discounting. Fun Home, on the other hand, is having a more difficult time attracting an audience. Though reviews are splendid and buzz is abounding, the highest week thus far, which was this past week, brought in a weekly gross of $587,716, representing 78.85% of its gross potential. The show is playing in the much smaller Circle in the Square Theatre, but still it is having difficulty keeping up with An American in Paris, even in terms of percentage of gross potential. Nevertheless, this past week it had filled 102.5% of its audience capacity, so the energy is high in the theatre and excitement is sure to pick up as the Tony’s approach. Something Rotten! has also been creeping up since the Tony nominee announcements, reaching a high this past week of $950,418, representing 91.74% of its gross potential. The Visit, on the other hand, is barely staying afloat, bringing in only $211,430 this past week, which represents only 27.72% of its gross potential. Chances are that The Visit will close soon after the Tony Awards.