Despite being “a little left from what everyone else is doing on Broadway,” Shucked garnered a whopping — and deserved — 9 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Playwright Robert Horn brought Grammy Award-winning country music songwriters Shane MacAnally and Brandy Clark into the project nearly ten years ago, inspired to make a country music-leaning Broadway musical that told the story of “outliers.” “I knew I wanted to create a show about a small town that believed what they believed, but were inclusive within their community. There was a little bit of everything, but they didn’t want anybody telling them how to live their lives and closed themselves off from the outside world.” Horn recalled in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife for the Tony Contenders series. “I needed a crop that would grow tall and close their walls up… and corn was the obvious thing.”
Horn crafted a hilarious script that’s filled with dad jokes, ridiculous truths, snorting-laugh moments and a whole lot of heart, while working simultaneously on the score with Brandy and Shane, who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community yet have made careers within the conservative country music industry. “I just fell in love with them,” Horn recalled. “They are out, proud gay artists within this conservative world of country music, and I don’t know that I’ve ever worked on a project that was this collaborative and that really is a testimony to our director, Jack O’Brien, who wanted everybody involved in every decision.”
The playwright admitted that Shucked‘s comedic-heavy script and country-leaning score makes the musical a little different from the traditional Broadway musical, but that may be the secret to its success. “We’re coming out of a really dark time, and I think in terms of community, globally, I think we want to laugh and we want to connect to a story without being lectured to where we feel something that we’re all feeling collectively as a community. That’s what the show is about,” Horn told HL. “The show is about community and family and learning to accept people who are different than you in order to grow as a person, as a town, as a country.”
He continued, “We always say at Shucked, we’re not going to solve the world’s problems, but if we can help heal it a little, that’s perfect. And I always believe, and I’ve had a career long career of doing this, that if you can make people laugh, you can start a conversation.”
Robert Horn is part of HollywoodLife’s Tony Contenders series, in which we interview the biggest current stars on Broadway who are in contention for the upcoming Tony Awards on June 11, 2023.