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Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Erika Kenningsen as Cady Heron, Caissie Levy as Elsa, Ethan Slater as SpongeBob

At Sunday's Tony Awards, three of the four nominees for Best Musical are "Mean Girls," "Frozen," and "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical" — and "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is the frontrunner for Best Play.

The big picture: A show with an original concept, original music and staying power is a rare breed on Broadway. We've seen "Hamilton" and "Dear Evan Hansen" in the last two years, but otherwise, the landscape is thin. Broadway is largely dominated by mass culture crowd pleasers, old-reliable revivals, jukebox musicals and takeoffs on movies.

The state of play: After a brief run of original hits, Broadway this year opted to churn out surefire moneymakers with mass appeal with little to show for acclaimed original shows. Even the fourth nominee for Best Musical, "The Band's Visit," was adapted from a 2007 movie.

Retreads, jukebox musicals and adapted productions:

Since 2000 on Broadway:

  • "The Lion King" has grossed in the top 3 every single year.
  • "Aladdin" has grossed in the top 6 each year since it premiered in 2014.
  • "Jersey Boys" held a top 10 spot for 9 straight years.
  • "Mary Poppins" held a top 10 spot for six straight years.
  • "Beauty and the Beast" held a top 10 spot for six years.
  • Other productions that grossed in the top 10 at least 3 straight years: Matilda, Spamalot, Kinky Boots, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Billy Elliot, Beautiful, The Producers, Hairspray.
The old hands
  • "Phantom of the Opera," the longest continuously running Broadway show — this production has been running since 1988 — is a perennial top 10 grosser.
  • "Mamma Mia," originally produced in 1999, held a top 10 box office spot between 2002-12.
The modern originals:

Shows that grossed in the the top 10 for at least two consecutive years:

  • "Wicked" — adapted from a book — was the biggest Broadway hit of the millennium until "Hamilton" came along. It held the top spot at the box office for 9 straight years following its premiere in 2003.
  • "Book of Mormon," which debuted in 2011 and has held a spot in the top 10 ever since, gets points as the rare hit comedy.
  • "Hamilton" set Broadway on fire critically and financially after its 2015 premiere, cementing itself firmly in the top spot. It raked in a record $157.8 million in 2017.
  • "Dear Evan Hansen" broke out last year and now finds itself 4th behind "Hamilton," "Lion King," and "Wicked."
  • "Come From Away," set in the aftermath of 9/11, was first made at an Ontario college in 2013 and made the leap to Broadway in 2017.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 3 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker