New Tony date shuffles schedules

CBS to air 63rd annual event on June 7

The 2009 Tony Award ceremony has been skedded earlier in June than it has been in recent years, pushing up the season’s eligibility cutoff and prompting legiters to juggle dates for spring Rialto offerings.

The 63rd annual event, nationally televised on CBS, will be held June 7 at its traditional venue, Radio City Music Hall. That’s a week earlier than this year, when the honors were handed out June 15.

To be eligible for the 2008-09 kudos, shows must open by April 30. Nominations will likely be announced May 5.

Although legit producers had been warned the move was a possibility, the change will cause some logistical headaches for incoming shows, particularly for the Roundabout Theater’s revival of “Dancin’,” previously set to open May 5. Roundabout now plans to resked the opening to make the earlier deadline.

Tighter timeframe could also cause a pileup of openings in late April for potential spring offerings that have not yet set dates or theaters, including “Guys and Dolls,” “Blithe Spirit,” “Wishful Drinking,” “Impressionism” and “Hair.”

In the last few years, the Tonys had been moved later in June to give CBS a full week to promote the post-Memorial Day telecast outside of a high-pressure May sweeps frame. This year Memorial Day falls relatively early, May 25, allowing the net to push up the event while maintaining the same promotional strategy.

It’s too soon to know whether the Tonys will still face ratings competish from the NBA Finals, which this year trounced the legit kudocast in terms of viewership. The 2009 edition of the hoops series has not yet been skedded.

For now, the opening sked for late April includes “9 to 5” on April 23 and the Manhattan Theater Club production of “Accent on Youth” on April 29.

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