But the night belonged to “Kimberly Akimbo”, the youngest and lowest-grossing, of the five nominees in the Best Musical category, but also by far the best-rated, with Unanimous acclaim from the critics. (Nodding a nod to the show’s beloved alliteration subplot, New York Times critic Jesse Green suggested with one imprint of his last fall: “Great cast = better music.”)
The show, set in 1999 in Bergen County, New Jersey, stars 63-year-old Victoria Clarke as Kimberly, a 15-year-old girl with a rare condition that causes her to age prematurely. Kimberly’s home life is in shambles – dad is drunk, mom is sick, aunt is a cheerful student – and her school life is complicated by her medical condition, but she is learning to find joy where she can. Clarke won a Tony Award for her performance as Kimberly, and Bonnie Milligan won a Tony Award for her performance as her aunt.
Directed by Jessica Stone, “Kimberly Akimbo” began life with an Off-Broadway production at the non-profit Atlantic Theater Company in the fall of 2021 and opened at the Booth Theater in November. Written by playwright David Lindsey-Abaire and composer Janine Tesori, based on a play written by Lindsey-Abaire in 2003. Both Lindsey-Abaire and Tesori won Tony Awards for their work on Sunday Night.
The musical, with just nine characters, had a capitalization of up to $7 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission; That’s a low budget for a Broadway musical these days, when an increasing number of shows are costing more than $20 million. Lead Producer David Stone, who is one of Broadway’s most successful personalities, as Head Producer of Wicked. This is the first time he has won a Tony Award for Best Musical, and he was also the lead producer on the Tony Award-winning revival of “Topdog”.
The Best Musical Tony Award is considered the most economically beneficial, which generally leads to higher ticket sales. In winning the award, “Kimberly Akimbo” bested four other nominated shows: “& Juliet,” “New York, New York,” “Shucked,” and “Some Like It Hot.” None of the five nominated musicals were runaway hits, and four, including “Kimberly Akimbo,” were losing money the most weeks.
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