Less than one month after singer/songwriter Brandy Clark and songwriter/producer Shane McAnally’s musical “Shucked” opened at the Nederlander Theatre on New York City’s famed Broadway, the comedy about being brave enough to expand your horizons has been nominated for nine Tony Awards.
McAnally commented that he was “on the floor” with the news of the nominations.
Robert Horn wrote the book for “Shucked.” Jack O’Brien directed it. Clark and McAnally wrote the music, and Owen co-produced it alongside Broadway producer Mike Bosner.
“‘SHUCKED’ is recognized today because of my incredibly talented friends Shane, Brandy, Robert, Jack, my producing partner Mike Bosner and the genius cast and crew who brought Cobb County to life,” Owen wrote on Instagram. “Anything is possible when you believe in the power of human connection and its relevance to the art around us. We need this kind of story and laughter now more than ever.”
The musical is nominated for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score (Music And/Or Lyrics) Written For The Theatre at the 2023 Tony Awards, set for June 11 at the United Palace in Washington Heights, in New York City. Other nominations tied to the musical include: “Shucked” actors Kevin Cahoon and Alex Newell earned a nomination for Best Performance By An Actor In A Featured Role In A Musical. Director Jack O’Brien is up for Best Direction Of A Musical. Scott Pask is nominated for Best Scenic Design Of A Musical. John Shivers is recognized for Best Sound Design Of A Musical. Jason Howland is nominated for Best Orchestrations.
Clark said last week at Live in the Vineyard, a county music showcase event in Napa, California, that she and McAnally had spent a decade perfecting “Shucked.” The musical underwent multiple rewrites and staff changes before it became one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. She credits O’Brien for pushing everyone to rethink what the story could be and develop it into the critically acclaimed piece of timely, timeless and poignant art that it is today.
She explained “Shucked” is about a place called Cobb County, surrounded by a corn wall. The residents have never left – and they’ve never let anyone in. But they were afraid to venture out when their corn started to die. They don’t know what to do.
“One girl is brave enough to leave, and no one wants her to leave,” said Clark, who has 11 Grammy nominations. Her co-writer, McAnally, has co-written or produced 39 No. 1 songs. “She goes to the city looking for someone to help fix the corn. She sees a sign for a corn doctor who’s really a podiatrist but who’s also a con man.”
When she drops her bracelet in front of him made of stones from underneath her grandpa’s house, the con man sees dollar signs. She brings him back to Cobb County, and hilarity ensures.
“It’s a comedy of errors from there,” Clark said. “But it’s also a story of outside letting an outsider in and what happens when you do that. And, how if you don’t, if you’re not open to outside ideas and outside people, you’ll never grow. The corn is really a euphemism for growth.”
“Shucked” is a fresh and nearly wholly rewritten version of another musical – “Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical” – that Clark, McAnally and Horn worked on together years ago.
Even before the show’s nine Tony nominations, Clark said watching people love on “Shucked” was enough to make her emotional.
“You know, if I hadn’t had as much time as I had to digest it, I would not be able to talk about it without crying,” she said. “I’m gonna get emotional. When you think about it, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced because I think in those 10 years and when we opened ‘Moonshine,’ it was mixed. And it was kind of dead. So Robert then won a Tony and had interest in him and what he wanted to do. And he was like, ‘Oh, I, I really want to do this.’ And that’s how it restarted. When we had that first preview and people lost their minds, I literally cried for about 24 hours. I wasn’t prepared for that.”