When his new musical made its premiere in Salt Lake City, Utah, Robert Horn felt optimistic it would land on Broadway.

“The reviews have been really lovely, and Salt Lake has been very kind to us,” Horn told the Deseret News last fall, as the musical had its test run at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. “So I think there’s definitely wind in our sail.” 

Several months later, “Shucked” — which Horn described as an “unabashedly corny and yet very progressive” musical that falls somewhere between “The Book of Mormon” and “Oklahoma!” — earned a whopping nine Tony nominations on Broadway.

After a test run in Utah, ‘Shucked’ has landed on Broadway

And on Sunday night, during the 76th annual Tony Awards ceremony, “Shucked” won a Tony Award for best featured actor of a musical, NPR reported. Alex Newell, who sings the musical’s showstopper “Independently Owned,” won the Tony Award in the category. Newell also recently performed the song on “The Voice” season finale.

What Tonys did ‘Shucked’ get nominated for?

Following its test run in Utah last year, “Shucked” had its opening night on Broadway in April. The original Broadway cast recording is now available for streaming online and was released as a CD on June 9, according to a news release sent to the Deseret News.

Although “Shucked” is new, there are familiar names behind it: Horn, who wrote the story, won a Tony for his work on “Tootsie”; Jack O’Brien, who is the director, has also won Tonys for his direction of “Henry IV” and “The Coast of Utopia”; and then there’s the Nashville duo behind the songs — singer Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, who have written for some of the biggest stars in the music industry, including Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson. 

They all earned Tony nominations for their work on “Shucked.”

Per Variety, “Shucked” earned Tony nominations in the following categories:

  • Best musical.
  • Best book of a musical.
  • Best original score.
  • Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical (two nominations).
  • Best scenic design of a musical.
  • Best sound design of a musical.
  • Best direction of a musical.
  • Best orchestrations.
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What is the Broadway musical ‘Shucked’ about?

“Shucked” brings audience members into Cobb County, where a tall wall of golden corn separates the community from the outside world. The people here have everything they need, and they have no interest in interacting with anyone beyond their wall of corn. But when an unknown source threatens that livelihood, the townspeople begrudgingly accept they may have to reach out for help.

Out of this quandary emerges Maizy, the story’s unlikely heroine who travels to the big, awe-inspiring city of Tampa, Florida, in search of a corn doctor, whom she finds in a podiatrist/ineffectual con-man named Gordy Jackson. 

“Shucked” is described as a fable from the outset, driven by two storytellers who frequently break the fourth wall and engage with the audience. But while the story is a fable, Horn didn’t want the moral to come down on the audience like a hammer. 

“I think people don’t want to be lectured about humanity,” he previously told the Deseret News. “They want to see stories about humanity.”

So instead, through a script that rapidly delivers puns and folksy non sequiturs — and through traditional theater music that has a country music twist — “Shucked” explores a number of themes, including the clash of values between a small town and big city, the importance of keeping an open mind, and working through division to achieve unity.

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“I really wanted to use this sort of classic American humor to explore an American problem, which is division,” he said. “When you look back at a certain time in history, the art will always tell you what was going on at that moment in history. Even if it’s art that lasts for centuries, it will always tell you what’s going on at that moment. And so I think where we are culturally, just in the zeitgeist right now, we wanted the story to reflect that. But we also wanted it to be timeless. And we wanted it to be funny.

 “If we can’t laugh, then we have no hope.”

When was the 2023 Tony Awards?

The 2023 Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, took place June 11 in New York City, CBS News reported. The ceremony aired on CBS and Paramount+, and will be available on demand on Paramount+.

Following negotiations amid the ongoing writers’ strike, the Tony Awards ceremony was unscripted, per Playbill.

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