May 4, 2014 at 8:27 AM ET
Beginning Monday, the TODAY plaza will turn into the Great White Way, with six days of performances from some of Broadway's leading musical lights. To prep for the "Best of Broadway" week, here's a quick guide to the shows — and the many Tony Awards they've been nominated for.
Originally an Off-Broadway production from 1997, it took until 2014 to bring the story of a disfigured woman who goes on a journey in search of a miracle cure to Broadway. Star Sutton Foster (who will appear on TODAY) already has two Tonys, and has again been nominated for a leading role acting nomination in a musical. The show has three other nominations, for best revival of a musical, featured actor in a musical (Joshua Henry) and for musical direction (Leigh Silverman).
Tuesday: "Bullets Over Broadway"
The comedy-musical started out as a 1994 Woody Allen-directed and co-written (with Douglas McGrath) comedy about a new playwright who takes financing for his production from a gangster with the proviso he hire the kingpin's talentless girlfriend for a role. But her escort seems to have some acting and writing potential! Allen got a Tony nomination for his writing of the musical, and the show has five other nominations: Featured actor in a musical (Nick Cordero who will appear with star Zach Braff and cast members), choreography (Susan Stroman), orchestrations (Doug Besterman), scenic design of a musical (Santo Loquasto) and costume design of a musical (William Ivey Long).
Wednesday: "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder"
A front-runner in the Tony race, "Gentleman's" scored the most nominations of any show this season: 10. Not bad for a 1907 book ("Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal") that was made into a 1949 Alec Guinness film ("Kind Hearts and Coronets"), in which an heir to a dukedom (who sits far down on the family tree) starts offing his familial competition in order to rise to the top. Stand back, here are the nominees: Best book (Robert L. Freedman), original score written for the theater (music: Steven Lutvak; lyrics: Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak), leading actor in a musical (two actors have been tapped: Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham), actress in a featured role in a musical (Lauren Worsham), direction of a musical (Darko Tresnjak), orchestrations (Jonathan Tunick), scenic design (Alexander Dodge), and costume design of a musical (Linda Cho).
The last time "Cabaret" came to Broadway, it ran from 1998-2004 and earned four Tonys, including one for Alan Cumming — who will appear on TODAY with cast members as he reprises his role in the musical. "Cabaret" originally debuted on Broadway in 1966 and was made into a movie starring Liza Minnelli in 1972. The dark musical takes place in decadent 1931 Berlin amid the growing Nazi threat and focuses on life at the Kit Kat Klub and one of its performers, Sally Bowles. This time, it scored two Tony nominations, one for featured actor in a musical (Danny Burstein) and one for featured actress in a musical (Linda Emond).
Friday: "Mamma Mia!"
OK, so this is a bit of a fake-out: "Mamma Mia!" has been running on Broadway since 2001, and had its Tony glory in 2002, when it earned seven nominations. But as it's Mother's Day weekend, it's worth revisiting the cheery tale of a young lady on the verge of being married who seeks her biological father to walk her down the aisle. (She has several men to choose from, thanks to her mother's freewheeling earlier years.)
Saturday: "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Another time-honored favorite, this version of "Cinderella" earned a Tony last year for costume design, and the story of the beleaguered young beauty who becomes a princess with a little help from a loose shoe makes for a grand start to a fairy-tale weekend. Carly Ray Jepsen (Cinderella) and Joe Carroll (Prince) are scheduled to appear.
Want to see any of these great productions in person? Viewing is first-come, first-served outside TODAY's Studio 1A at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. All performances will be featured on TODAY and TODAY.com.