As Tony Sunday nears, the details of the telecast are beginning to fall into place, but much remains in flux.
Some major questions remain: Will the opening number be a tribute to Richard Rodgers, whose centenary is this year, or one honoring New York City? Bernadette Peters and Gregory Hines, the show’s hosts, will perform songs associated with Gotham, but whether that segment kicks off the telecast is yet to be decided. The Rodgers medley will be sung by various celebs, concluding with the current Broadway cast of “Oklahoma!” singing their tuner’s title song.
The always problematic presentation of the best-play nominees is still being worked out, as is a segment honoring the four special-event nominees: Bea Arthur, Barbara Cook, John Leguizamo and Elaine Stritch.
Live excerpts unlikely
Occasionally in the past, the Tonys have staged live excerpts from the four nominated plays. “This year, we will probably use B-roll footage,” offered managing producer Elizabeth I. McCann. “But it changes.”
The roster of production numbers from each of the nominated musicals appears more set. Producers and various sources close to some of the productions offered the following run down of songs:
? Sutton Foster and the female chorus of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will sing “Forget About the Boy,” one of the show’s original songs by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. They are then joined by the rest of the cast for a short rendition of the title song, written for the 1967 movie.
? The cast of “Urinetown” will perform the gospel number “Run, Freedom, Run!”
? John Lithgow will join the chorus of “Sweet Smell of Success” to add his voice and presence to the show’s act two ode to gossip, “Dirt.”
? The “Mamma Mia!” cast offers a medley that ends with “Dancing Queen.”
TV viewers will see a reprise of the act one finale from “Into the Woods,” with a few bars of the song “Children Will Listen,” from act two, added to the mix.
Win or lose for revival, “Oklahoma!” gets the most exposure. Not only is the show part of the Rodgers tribute, the cast also gets to perform “The Farmer and the Cowman” tune later in the telecast.
All this precious TV time can boost a show’s box office receipts even if the musical doesn’t carry home the big Tony. In most cases, however, the B.O. blip falls under the estimated $100,000 it costs a musical’s producers to cover costume, set and tech expenses, as well as AFTRA fees, in order to restage the production numbers at Radio City Music Hall.