With the 2019 Tony Awards rapidly approaching, it is time for die-hard theater aficionados to lock in their nomination ballots and for casual theatergoers to remember that there is more on Broadway than just “Hamilton.” From the folksy “Hadestown” to the Motown R&B “Ain’t Too Proud” to the futuristic synth-pop “Be More Chill,” there are a lot of diverse sounds from this year’s slate of Broadway musicals. While not all of the productions have released their official Broadway cast albums, here is a playlist from the ones that have done so to get a taste of the upcoming Tonys.
“Wait for Me” — Anaïs Mitchell (“Hadestown”)
The ethereal ballad Orpheus (Damon Daunno) sings as he descends down to the underworld to find Eurydice (Nabiyah Be) is equal parts auspicious and haunting. Though it’s meant to symbolize Orpheus’ devotion to his wife, there is an unspoken heartbreaking undertone to the song, as the hope you can hear in Orpheus’ voice is juxtaposed with the audience’s knowledge of how the famous myth is going to tragically end. (Spoiler alert: Orpheus and Eurydice are allowed to leave the underworld as long as Orpheus never looks back at Eurydice during their trek. But during the last moments of their journey, Orpheus looks back to make sure Eurydice is there, condemning her to the underworld.)
Note: This version of “Wait for Me” is a live recording from when “Hadestown” was presented at the New York Theatre Workshop, not the original Broadway cast.
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” — The Temptations (“Ain’t Too Proud”)
A jukebox biopic about the lives of the Temptations, almost every song in the show’s album is a certified bop. The titular song, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” has all the elements of a classic Motown hit — an infectious beat, snazzy harmonies and a melody that can’t help but make you get up and dance.
“Michael in the Bathroom” — Joe Iconis (“Be More Chill”)
Although the viral musical didn’t seem to land in the hearts of Broadway-goers, this techno-pop musical about a teenage boy who implants a chip in his head to become cooler became an internet obsession. “Michael in the Bathroom,” a song about a boy (George Salazar) locking himself in the bathroom at a party because his friends have abandoned him, quickly became the “On My Own” of this millennial musical. A surprisingly heartfelt ballad, “Michael in the Bathroom” hits all the right notes and is a little too close for comfort at capturing the social anxiety of high school.
“You Happened” — Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin (“The Prom”)
Continuing on the topic of high school, who can forget the beginning of prom season? It’s a time when high school boys (and girls) outdo each other on asking their significant others or crushes out to the dance. This is an endearing song between Indiana teenagers Emma (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Alyssa (Isabelle McCalla), as Alyssa agrees to come out so the couple can be together. “You Happened” from “The Prom” is a Broadway ode to of all the cute and cringey promposals forever memorialized in viral YouTube videos and tweets.
“Song for the Lonely” — Cher (“The Cher Show”)
Imagine not one but two Chers comforting another Cher as she leaves Sonny Bono and embarks on a solo career. It may sound like a Cher lover’s wet dream, but that is exactly what happens when “Song for the Lonely” is performed during “The Cher Show.” The Cher-ception is even more orgasmic as “Babe” Cher (Micaela Diamond), “Lady” Cher (Teal Wicks), and “Star” Cher (Stephanie J. Block) each belt out “It’s going to be all right” to the audience before, and then each tells the others that she is right there beside them. It’s women supporting women! Except in this case, every woman is Cher!