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Tony's Star-Studded and Song-Filled Sunday

Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Green Day, Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Cate Blanchett, and Denzel Washington are among the luminaries who will light up the 2010 Tony Awards. logo
Lea Michele
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Like an aging seductress intent on never losing her youthful charm, Broadway has been waving her elegantly gloved hand at the world, inviting everyone from rock 'n' rollers to reality-TV stars to come to her party on the Great White Way. And this inclusive new direction will never be more evident than on Sunday night, June 13, when the 2010 Tony Awards are held at Radio City Music Hall (and aired live on CBS) with a show that will fully incorporate the spheres of television, pop music, and Hollywood into Broadway's celestial orbit.

Just for starters, Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes -- a Tony nominee for his performance as Chuck Baxter in the revival of Promises, Promises -- will be the evening's host. Among the many other television stars who will be prominently involved in the show are Broadway babies-turned-Glee superstars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, who will sing a duet; Emmy winner and 2010 Tony nominee Kelsey Grammer, who will perform with fellow cast members of the Tony-nominated revival of La Cage Aux Folles; and such presenters as Paula Abdul, Lucy Liu, and Chris Noth.

"Broadway has been diversifying much more over the last five to ten years," says Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, which along with the American Theater Wing presents the Tony Awards each year. "When you think about it, one of the reasons Broadway is doing as well as it is right now is because there's really something for everybody."

Hollywood will take center stage in many ways, as well, including a scene from the Tony-nominated revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, featuring its star, Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones. Meanwhile, other performers and presenters are set to include such Hollywood hot-list names as Cate Blanchett, Scarlett Johansson, Liev Schreiber, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Laura Linney, Alfred Molina, Katie Holmes, Michael Douglas, Daniel Radcliffe, Helen Mirren, Justin Bartha, Antonia Banderas, and Raquel Welch.

Green Day's Mike Dirnt, Billie Jo Armstrong, and Tre Cool
(© Tristan Fuge)
Meanwhile, few aspects of pop culture, past or present, will go untouched on the telecast. The show will feature performances from the Grammy Award-winning punk-rock band Green Day along with the cast of the musical American Idiot, based on the band's 2004 CD of the same name; the cast of Fela!, which focuses on the life of Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti (and is produced by rapper Jay-Z and action/hip-hop star Will Smith); the cast of Million Dollar Quartet, which tells the story of rock n' roll greats Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash; and the cast of the new musical Memphis, which is set in the R&B world of the 1950s and is co-written by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan (a three-time nominee for his work on the show).

"I do think celebrities make the show more exciting," says St. Martin. "After all, if we can't get an audience, the Tony's won't be on the air forever, so the more well-known people there are the better. And since a lot of people watching haven't seen the shows yet, it's great to have familiar names and faces on the Tony Awards."

Howard Sherman, the Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, agrees with his colleague, that the show just can't be all about the Great White Way. "It's very important that we're producing a show that appeals to people who may not necessarily know everyone who's being honored, but which fundamentally conveys the appeal and the lure of what theater can be," he says. "

That's also one reason that, unlike in the recent past, several new shows that were not nominated will also be given the chance to shine on national television. For example, the choreography of nominee Twyla Tharp will be seen when Come Fly Away's cast members dance to the sounds of Frank Sinatra, and Hayes will pull double-duty when he appears in a number from Promises, Promises alongside his co-star Kristin Chenoweth (a former Tony winner, Emmy winner, and film star all in one).

"We learned last year that more performance is good," says Sherman. "I think what's marvelous is that everyone in the community understands that this is that one opportunity to tell America about live theater."

For TheaterMania's full coverage of the 2010 Tony Awards, click here.

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