By Marc Snetiker
June 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM EDT
Craig Schwartz

As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, EW is taking a closer look at this season’s top new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor! Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Revival of a Musical:

Craig Schwartz
Evita

Opened: April 5, 2012

Starring: Elena Roger, Ricky Martin, Michael Cerveris

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Tim Rice; choreographed by Rob Ashford; directed by Michael Grandage

Synopsis: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s late-’70s style-crunching tuner chronicles the life of Argentine first lady Eva Perón (Roger), from her early life as a wannabe actress sleeping her way up the social ladder in Buenos Aires to her meteoric rise to political power as the charismatic wife of President Juan Perón (Cerveris).

EW’s Review: “There are three questions facing any woman in the title role of the 1979 Andrew Lloyd Webber–Tim Rice musical Evita: How is her ”Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”? How is her arm raise (a.k.a. the signature Evita pose)? And how does she handle that vocal-cord-killing score? For Argentine actress Elena Roger in the adequate new Broadway revival, the answers are: Passable. Effective. And badly. Not every Evita needs to produce aural pyrotechnics like original Broadway star Patti LuPone. She does, however, need to hit every note with laserlike precision, and Roger misses too many. C+ ” (Melissa Rose Bernardo)

Musical math: (Carmen x Jesus Christ Superstar) + Funny Girl

Download this: “Buenos Aires”

Tony nominations:  3 — Best Revival of a Musical; Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris); Best Choreography (Rob Ashford)

Odds on winning: Overshadowed in its other categories, Evita‘s best shot lies with previous Tony winner Michael Cerveris (Assassins), whose Perón is the strongest performance in the revival.

Choreographer Rob Ashford on who he’s looking forward to meeting at the Tonys: “I don’t know Bernadette Peters at all. I have only met her very casually in passing, and I am a huge fan of hers. I love Hugh Jackman. I had the pleasure of working with and choreographing Hugh Jackman, so it’ll be great to see Hugh as well, and there’s so many. I have to say, I admire the young people that are just beginning. Jeremy Jordan is great. He has all that talent, all that possibility, all of that — and he’s just starting! What would that be like in 10 years? What would that be like in 20 years?”

Michael Cerveris on what he learns during each Tony Awards process: “It’s always for something different, it’s always for different kind of work. The major thing is that after you’ve been through it once and lost, which happened to me the first time out, it’s actually kind of a blessing — not that I wish it on anyone else! But you go through the whole process and have the thing that you want to have happen the least happen — and then people still love you, you still work, and the pressure is kind of off. Winning is also nice, and once that’s happened, I was like, ‘Okay, great, now I don’t have to worry about it.’ But each time I go through it, I’m even better able to just enjoy it as a celebration and not enter into it as a competition. It’s not like baseball. You can’t out-act the other team, you don’t score more, there’s no audience applause meter. So all you do is do your job and at the end, some people pick one person and some people pick another person, and that’s fine. Someone said something great: ‘You can’t lose something you never had.’ So I just enjoy it as an opportunity to get to know people that I haven’t met before, other actors that I haven’t met before, or reconnect with people that I have worked with or admired.”

NEXT: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Opened: Jan. 12, 2012

Closing: Sept. 30, 2012

Starring: Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier, Phillip Boykin

Music by George Gershwin; lyrics by DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin; book adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray; choreographed by Ronald K. Brown; directed by Diane Paulus

Synopsis: The Gershwins’ American folk opera follows the tragic romance of a formerly promiscuous woman (McDonald) and a crippled beggar (Lewis) in a destitute waterfront tenement in South Carolina in the 1930s.

EW’s Review: “In the end, this is an approachable and heartfelt version of Porgy and Bess that showcases George Gershwin’s glorious melodies and the bottomless talents of McDonald. Her Bess is a complex, three-dimensional figure both classic and contemporary, the stuff of Greek tragedy and of countless Lifetime movies… And as played by McDonald with the full force of her vocal and acting abilities, Bess becomes an unforgettable and iconic American character. B+ ” (Thom Geier)

Musical math: Ragtime Les Misérables 

Download this: “Summertime”

Tony nominations: 7 — Best Revival of a Musical; Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Norm Lewis); Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Audra McDonald); Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Phillip Boykin, David Alan Grier); Best Costume Design of a Musical (ESosa); Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Christopher Akerlind); Best Sound Design of a Musical (Acme Sound Partners); Best Direction of a Musical (Diane Paulus); Best Orchestrations (William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke)

Odds on winning: McDonald is the runaway favorite in her category and the veteran actress stands to score her first leading actress win in her acclaimed career. Best Featured Actor nominees Boykin and Grier may very well cancel each other out, leaving their category open for an outsider (Cerveris in Evita). There’s high potential that the show could overtake the now-touring Follies for Best Revival, and the production has a strong shot in the Best Orchestrations race.

Audra McDonald on the cast’s first show after the Tony nominations: “We got together with the cast that night and we had a little meeting in the audience beforehand, and everybody was just happy and overwhelmed. Phillip Boykin, who plays this murderous character in the show, is the sweetest little teddy bear, and somebody had given him an actual golden crown and he had a scarf wrapped around him, so he looked like King Arthur and he was just walking around hugging everybody and crying and squealing. That to me will be the moment that I remember the most from nomination day.”

Norm Lewis on his first thoughts after being nominated: “Oh, my God, how about that? It was awesome. I was telling people that I was going to try to play that nonchalant role and just say, ‘Yeah, someone texted me and woke me up.’ No, I was up! I was watching the television and just waiting. And a tear came down. I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I’m now in this family of people who belong to the Tony world, and I get a chance to sit down and watch the Tonys this year live.’ I’ve only been twice, and it was because I was performing in a show that was represented, but then I had to get bussed out. So I’ve never sat and watched. I’ve never been nominated before. I just want to be a part of this.”

NEXT: Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

Opened: March 22, 2012

Starring: Paul Nolan, Josh Young, Chilina Kennedy

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Tim Rice; choreographed by Lisa Shriver; directed by Des McAnuff

Synopsis: The events surrounding Passover and the final days of Jesus are relayed in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic rock show-cum-moralis opera.

EW’s Review: “Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he’s never really been happy with Jesus Christ Superstar until now — 41 years after its stage debut. That’s high advance praise for the new Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare Festival-born Broadway revival. Yet from the overture’s first piercing, plaintive wail of electric guitar, it’s clear why the composer gave his blessing. Director Des McAnuff — the go-to guy for rock & roll musicals (see: The Who’s Tommy and Jersey Boys) — obviously worships the songs. This may be Jesus’ story, but the stars of the production are Lloyd Webber’s psychedelic melodies and Tim Rice’s beautifully unfussy lyrics. And they sound sensational. ” (Melissa Rose Bernardo)

Musical math: (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Godspell) x Rent

Download this: “Superstar”

Tony nominations:  2 — Best Revival of a Musical; Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Josh Young)

Odds on winning: Despite phenomenal vocals from the revival’s cast of exhilarating rockstars, this production won’t likely take home any prize at this year’s Tonys (but if it did, the Tony would go to Young for his powerful Judas Iscariot). Chalk the likely losses up to fierce competition.

Josh Young on his disbelief at being nominated: “The night before, I was doing a concert so I was up a little late and I wanted to sleep in. I figured I didn’t really want to be woken up by any sympathy phone calls, so I shut the volume off on my phone. But I woke up to my dog pawing at my face to walk her, and I had a text message on my phone, and I looked at the message and it said, ‘Attaboy,’ from my agent. So I thought, maybe he saw me in the concert last night and he was saying good job. And then I clicked off of that message and I had about 200 other messages, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute.’ Because I counted myself out completely. Even though I had worked so hard for a year and a half, I totally counted myself out. I was in such disbelief. And then I tried to keep the elation level down because it was so hard to play Judas that night, being that happy.”

Young on the vocal struggles that briefly sidelined him as the show was opening: “I had a chest infection. I couldn’t breathe, and if you can’t breathe, you cannot phonate, and I tried to push through it for a few shows, but it lasted a long time. It lasted three weeks and I was able to get out a few shows because critics were there, and I was able to do opening night. Because we rehearsed the show as a play, storytelling is utmost at the forefront, and so I said to myself, you know what, Josh? If you can speak the text, you can tell the story. And I know I can do better than that. I was able to sing a little bit — I had enough breath to do that — and I made it through the show and thank goodness I did, or else I wouldn’t be where I am now. [I’m back] 100 percent. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life for this now.”

NEXT: Follies

Follies

Opened: Sept. 12, 2011

Closed: Jan. 22, 2012

Starring: Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Elaine Paige, Ron Raines, Jayne Houdyshell

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; book by James Goldman; choreographed by Warren Carlyle; directed by Eric Schaeffer

Synopsis: The acclaimed 1971 musical, about two former showgirls and their husbands reuniting in the crumbling Broadway theater where they once performed, is loaded with some of Sondheim’s most famous standards.

EW’s Review: “This lavish production highlights only the strengths of the show. They begin with Sondheim’s songs, including some of the most lush ballads he’s ever composed (”Too Many Mornings,” ”In Buddy’s Eyes”) and the most bitter anthems (”Could I Leave You,” ”I’m Still Here,” the latter performed by dynamite British diva Elaine Paige). There are also the extravagant fantasy sequences (Gregg Barnes’ ”Loveland” costumes are pure shimmery, sequined bliss)… For my part, this is the best Follies I’ve ever seen. A– ” (Melissa Rose Bernardo)

Musical math: Merrily We Roll Along + Ziegfield Follies + Applause

Download this: “Losing My Mind”

Tony nominations:  8 — Best Revival of a Musical; Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Danny Burstein, Ron Raines); Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Jan Maxwell); Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Jayne Houdyshell); Best Costume Design of a Musical (Gregg Barnes); Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Natasha Katz); Best Sound Design of a Musical (Kai Harada)

Odds on winning: Don’t be surprised if Follies manages to inch out Porgy for Best Revival of a Musical — the celestial cast could pull off a major victory, even though the production closed fives months ago. Do be surprised if Danny Burstein pulls off an underdog win over Once‘s Steve Kazee and Newsies‘s Jeremy Jordan for his scene-stealing Buddy Plummer, which earned him the Drama Desk Award this year. Gregg Barnes’ magnificent, classic costumes should easily land the designer his second Tony win.

Read more:

Inside the Tony Award nominees: Best Musical

Tony Awards: We predict 2012’s winners!

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