The 71st annual Tony Awards are coming to Radio City Music Hall this Sunday on CBS at 8 p.m. ET. Hosted by Tony winner Kevin Spacey, the show promises performances from nominees and some of Broadway’s biggest hits, as well as the usual award show speeches.
If you’re hurriedly filling out your Tonys ballot for your viewing party, but you weren’t able to make it to the Great White Way this season, here is your chance to check out some of the performances from this year’s four shows nominated for Best Musical: Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Groundhog Day: The Musical, and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
If you want a sneak peek of the nominees beyond listening to the cast albums, watch the clips below.
Dear Evan Hansen
One of the buzziest musicals this season, Dear Evan Hansen features an original score from Oscar-winning La La Land songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The musical follows the titular Evan Hansen (Ben Platt, in a Tony-nominated role) who finds himself at the center of a lie when one of the letters he writes as part of his own therapy is believed to be penned by another student who died by suicide. The socially awkward Evan uses the confusion to attempt to find connection and make desperately craved friends. Platt and his costar Laura Dreyfuss have earned raves for their emotionally affecting performances.
“Waving through a Window” is Platt’s powerful opening anthem — through his interactions with his peers on his first day of his senior year of high school, Evan wonders if he’s doomed to live a life without connection, an ignored outcast.
When Evan’s letter is mistaken for his classmate Connor’s suicide note, he becomes overwhelmed and lies to try to ameliorate the grief of Connor’s parents. With “For Forever,” he crafts a story of how Connor was present the day he fell out of a tree and broke his arm.
Groundhog Day: The Musical
After crafting a whimsical and spunky score for 2013 Tony nominee Matilda, Tim Minchin composed this marvelous adaptation of the 1993 romantic comedy film Groundhog Day. With Tony nominee Andy Karl stepping into Bill Murray’s shoes, the musical follows cynical weatherman Phil Connors as he is forced to relive Groundhog Day in Punxsatawny, Pennsylvania over and over again until he finds a path of redemption, love, and generosity.
“Philanthropy” takes the beloved montage where a newly reformed Phil Connors goes around town performing acts of charity and goodwill for the residents and turns it into a high-energy song and dance number. During previews, leading man Andy Karl tore his ACL during the fast-paced choreography of this number, but in the true spirit of “the show must go on,” he finished that performance and returned for the show’s opening night.
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Affectionately known as The Great Comet, this musical takes Volume 2, Part 5 of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace as its subject matter, focusing on Natasha’s affair with Anatole and Pierre’s search for meaning in life. Originally premiering Off-Broadway at Ars Nova in 2012, the show has earned the most Tony nominations this season with 12, including one for Josh Groban making his Broadway debut as Pierre. The score mixes Russian folk and classical music with more contemporary indie pop and rock sounds, while the majority of the cast does double duty playing instruments. Transforming the theater into a Russian club, the show is notable for its immersive experience.
Groban, fellow Tony nominee Denée Benton, and the entire ensemble perform the show’s two opening numbers “Prologue” and “Pierre.” The production features only one line of spoken dialogue and seamlessly moves between songs in the style of an opera. While Groban plays the piano throughout, he also has a go on the accordion.
This second act double punch of “Balaga” and “The Abduction” follows Anatole’s thwarted plans to elope with Natasha (Denée Benton). Groban remains at the heart of the action playing the piano and singing with the company.
Come From Away
On Sept. 11, 2001, 38 international aircraft were diverted to Gander Airport in a small Newfoundland town when U.S. airspace was closed in the wake of terrorist attacks. The townspeople sprung into action to house, clothe, feed, and care for the nearly 7,000 stranded passengers. This musical tells their story. Based on interviews with residents of Gander, Come From Away uses an ensemble cast of 12 playing multiple roles to deliver what EW called a “feel good night of theater.” The show made headlines when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capitalized on its messages of unity, compassion, and understanding in frightening times by bringing first daughter Ivanka Trump as his guest to a performance.
The rousing opening number “Welcome to the Rock” introduces us to the homespun, down-to-earth townsfolk of Gander, as well as to the entire 12 person ensemble that carries the 100 minute musical. Look out for the solo moments from Jenn Colella who earned a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role here. You can see that number, as well as Colella and the cast performing the emotional “Me & The Sky,” in the videos above.