Yes, the biggest night on the Broadway calendar is upon us. Tony and Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg hosts the three-hour event, which is again being held at the famed Radio City Music Hall.
For Broadway fans, the evening will actually begin a few hours earlier: At 6 PM ET TonyAwards.com will offer live Red Carpet coverage of the arrival of the evening's stars. The Creative Arts Awards, which "honor behind-the-scenes excellence on Broadway," will also be webcast at TonyAwards.com beginning at 7:15 PM.
Tony Award winners Michael Cerveris and Julie White will host the presentation of the Creative Arts Awards, which will likely include Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Orchestrations and this season's two new awards, Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical. The Regional Theatre Award will also be presented to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater during the pre-telecast segment.
The televised ceremony boasts a star-studded list of presenters from the worlds of TV, film and theatre. Those scheduled to present the coveted Tony Awards include Barry Bostwick, Duncan Sheik, Gabriel Byrne, Julie Chen, Harry Connick, Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Mandy Patinkin, David Hyde Pierce, Lily Tomlin, John Waters, Alec Baldwin, Kristin Chenoweth, Glenn Close, Richard Griffiths, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Liza Minnelli, Mary-Louise Parker, Daniel Radcliffe, Brooke Shields and Marisa Tomei.
The 2008 Tony Awards should prove an exciting event, with several races too close to call. Chief among them is the battle for Best Musical: the race seems to be between In the Heights and Passing Strange, but one never knows. Perhaps the Cubby Bernstein campaign could push Xanadu to the top prize, or maybe Cry-Baby will be left shedding not a single tear. The Leading Actor in a Play category is also puzzling to those forecasting winners: Nominees include Ben Daniels (Les Liaisons Dangereues), Laurence Fishburne (Thurgood), Mark Rylance (Boeing-Boeing), Rufus Sewell (Rock 'n' Roll) and Patrick Stewart (Macbeth). As for entertainment, the CBS broadcast will kick off with a performance of "Circle of Life" by the cast of the Tony-winning musical The Lion King in honor of that show's tenth anniversary.
The cast of the Tony-nominated Best Musical Passing Strange will perform "Keys," the call-and-response portion of the new musical at the Belasco Theatre that features its Tony-nominated creator and star, Stew, singing, "It's alright . . ." In the Heights, which has been nominated for 13 Tonys, will perform Lin-Manuel Miranda's "96,000," a joyous song about the hope of a lottery windfall. Cry-Baby, also nominated for Best Musical, will perform "A Little Upset." That David Javerbaum-Adam Schlesinger song features Cry-Baby (James Snyder), Dupree (Chester Gregory II), Allison (Elizabeth Stanley) and the ensemble. And, Xanadu, the new musical at the Helen Hayes Theatre based on the film of the same name, will perform Jeff Lynne's "Don't Walk Away," which features Kerry Butler, Cheyenne Jackson, Tony Roberts, Mary Testa, Jackie Hoffman and the Muses.
TV watchers can also expect performances from Best Revival of a Musical nominees Gypsy ("Everything's Coming Up Roses"), Grease, South Pacific and Sunday in the Park with George ("Move On"). And, three shows that began during the 2007-2008 season but were not nominated in the Best Musical category — Young Frankenstein, The Little Mermaid and A Catered Affair — will also get to strut their stuff: Mermaid's Sierra Boggess will sing "Part of Your World," Frankenstein's Megan Mullally will belt out "Deep Love," and Catered's Faith Prince will offer John Bucchino's "Vision."
Also, expect a performance boasting the original principal cast of Jonathan Larson's Rent, who will join the show's current company to celebrate that Pulitzer Prize-winning musical's lengthy run, which ends Sept. 7 at the Nederlander Theatre.
Tony Award nominations were announced May 13 by Tony Award winners Sara Ramirez and David Hyde Pierce at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. In the Heights, which began life at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts prior to arriving at the Richard Rodgers Theatre earlier this year, earned the most nominations of any show this season: 13.
Other productions that fared well include the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which picked up 11 nominations, and the revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George, which nabbed nine nominations. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts drama August: Osage County earned seven nominations, as did the revival of Gypsy and the new musical Passing Strange.
There were also several individuals who earned multiple Tony nominations. Pop artist Stew heads the list with four nominations for the new musical Passing Strange: Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score (with Heidi Rodewald), Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical and Best Orchestrations (with Rodewald). In the Heights' Lin-Manuel Miranda picked up two nominations: Best Original Score and Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical. Others with dual Tony nominations include David Farley (Scenic and Costume Design for Sunday in the Park with George; the former with Timothy Bird and The Knifedge Creative Network), Peter McKintosh (Scenic and Costume Design for The 39 Steps) and Donald Holder (Lighting Design for Les Liaisons Dangereuses and South Pacific).
A Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre will be given to famed Broadway composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, while another Special Tony will be awarded posthumously to orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett in "recognition of his historic contribution to American musical theatre in the field of orchestrations, as represented on Broadway this season by Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific."
Notable omissions include Tony Award winner Kevin Kline, who did not receive a Best Actor in a Play nomination for his acclaimed performance in the revival of Cyrano de Bergerac; Cheyenne Jackson, who failed to receive a Best Actor in a Musical nomination for his work in Xanadu; Elizabeth Marvel, who was overlooked for her powerful performance in Top Girls; the exclusion of A Catered Affair from the Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score of a Musical categories; and the lack of a single nomination for the Debbie Allen-directed revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which features such Broadway favorites as Phylicia Rashad, James Earl Jones and Anika Noni Rose.
Nominees for the 62nd Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards follow:
August: Osage County
Rock 'n' Roll
The 39 Steps
In the Heights
Best Original Score
Cry-Baby, Music & Lyrics: David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger
In The Heights, Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Little Mermaid, Music: Alan Menken and Lyrics: Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Passing Strange, Music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald Lyrics: Stew
Best Revival of a Play
Les Liaisons Dangereueses
Best Revival of a Musical
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Sunday in the Park With George
Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth
Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park With George
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights
Stew, Passing Strange
Paulo Szot, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair
Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kelli O'Hara, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park With George
Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Robin De Jesús, In The Heights
Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy
Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical
de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Olga Merediz, In The Heights
Loretta Ables Sayre, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps
Scott Pask, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Todd Rosenthal, August: Osage County
Anthony Ward, Macbeth
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
David Farley and Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network, Sunday in the Park with George
Anna Louizos, In the Heights
Robin Wagner, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Michael Yeargan, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Best Costume Design of a Play
Gregory Gale, Cyrano de Bergerac
Rob Howell, Boeing-Boeing
Katrina Lindsay, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Kevin Adams, The 39 Steps
Howard Harrison, Macbeth
Donald Holder, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Ann G. Wrightson, August: Osage County
Best Sound Design of a Play
Simon Baker, Boeing-Boeing
Adam Cork, Macbeth
Ian Dickson, Rock 'n' Roll
Mic Pool, The 39 Steps
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Special Tony Award
Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981), in recognition of his historic contribution to American musical theatre in the field of orchestrations, as represented on Broadway this season by Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific.
For more information visit www.TonyAwards.com.