Sunday is Broadway’s big night -- the 67th Tony Awards -- and from the looks of things, the show is going to be especially, well, big.
After two years at the intimate Beacon Theatre, the show -- which will be hosted for the third consecutive year by Neil Patrick Harris (his fourth time overall) -- is returning to Radio City Music Hall. The 6,000-seat theater is more than twice the size of last year’s venue. That means a much larger backstage area as well, with more space for cast, crew and lavish props. So expect “bigger musical numbers,” says co-producer Ricky Kirshner.
Conceptually, long time producers Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are going pretty broad, showcasing both the expected, live numbers from this year’s nominated musicals – such as “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda, the Musical” -- as well as celebrating the songs of Broadway musicals from years past. There will be a tribute to “Phantom of the Opera,” for example, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Hollywood star power at the ceremony will not fall short. In an effort to draw viewers, presumably with an eye toward luring them to see theater, several big-screen names with Broadway ties will be presenting Tonys, including Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bette Midler, Sigourney Weaver, Jesse Eisenberg and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The front-runners for best musical are “Kinky Boots,” adapted from the British film of the same name with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Cyndi Lauper, and “Matilda, the Musical,” an adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic with music by Tim Minchin and a book by Dennis Kelly.
“Kinky Boots” and “Matilda” received the most overall nominations, with 13 and 12 nods respectively. “Pippin” picked up 10 nominations, the third largest number among the productions and a favorite to win best musical revivial.
The late Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy” picked up six nominations, best play among them; its star, Hanks, is up for lead actor in a play, the first Tony nomination of his career. Hank’s competition in that category includes Nathan Lane (“The Nance”) and Tracy Letts (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”). Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” also picked up six nominations, including best play.
One thing not to expect at this year’s Tonys: performances at sea. Last year’s in-show promotion by Royal Caribbean, in which a “Hairspray” number was performed on a cruise ship, will decidedly not be revived.
The landlocked awards show, nonetheless, promises both accessibility and panache at once -- no shortage of big drama.
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