With longstanding roots in the music industry, Bareilles and Groban may initially seem unexpectedly choices for a theater awards show. But both have become headline talent on Broadway lately: Bareilles wrote the score for the musical “Waitress,” and her two stints in the lead role of the show charging notable sales increases for the production. Groban, meanwhile, spent several months in one of the title roles of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” fueling million-dollar-plus weeks during his time in part. Bareilles also played Mary Magdalene in NBC’s well-received live broadcast of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
It’s unusual to have two hosts for the Tony Awards, but not unprecedented. Most recently, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming emceed the proceedings in 2015. Response to that year’s ceremony proved lackluster in the theater industry.
This year’s Tony race has few clear frontrunners. With nominees not yet announced (and a handful of shows still to open before the April 27 eligibility cutoff), “The Band’s Visit” is a critical favorite in the new musical category, but it faces possible competition from popular titles like “Mean Girls” and “Frozen.” The musical revival category could also get competitive, with “Carousel,” “Once On This Island” and the soon-to-open “My Fair Lady” poised to become major plays. Play revival will also be tight, with “Angels in America,” “Three Tall Women” and “Lobby Hero” all looking strong, and the Denzel Washington-led “The Iceman Cometh” bowing next week.
In a year that saw few new plays open on Broadway, that category could well end up dominated by “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which swept the Olivier Awards in London. The box-office-busting production opens April 22.
Nominations for the 72nd annual Tony Awards will be announced May 1. CBS will broadcast the ceremony live from Radio City Music Hall on June 10.