This is the most wide-open contest for best musical in years. But it’s also one of the most disappointing, with the Tony nominators egregiously failing to select a fifth show. More inventive choices were shut out, including the ambitious, roads-not-taken musical “If/Then” and the sublime “Bridges of Madison County” (with its rapturous score by Jason Robert Brown). The jazzy Duke Ellington tribute “After Midnight” is a visceral thrill. But as a revue with no book, its ambitions aren’t as lofty as the others. The well-received “Aladdin” gives Disney its best shot at the top prize since “The Lion King” took home the gold 16 years ago. But this category should come down to a battle between the Carole King jukebox bio-musical “Beautiful” and the riotous British comedy “Gentleman’s Guide.” With touring prospects in mind, Tony voters may choose to reward the crowd-pleasing “Beautiful,” with its triumph-over-adversity story and familiar baby boomer tunes.
Also nominated: “Casa Valentina,” “Act One,” “Mothers and Sons,” “Outside Mullingar”
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