NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The producers of the Tony Award telecast clearly believe that more is more.
Sunday night’s three-hour telecast from the Beacon Theater is packed with so many stars and performances – a record 16 musical numbers will feature moments from musicals, plays and revivals – that cynics might call it kitchen sink programming.
“Every year we’ve added more and more entertainment,” said Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of The Broadway League, which jointly presents the Tonys with the American Theatre Wing. “You can feel the energy in the room when they’re rehearsing.”
The explosion of performances is an attempt to showcase as much on Broadway as possible and also an implicit admission that there’s no clear, dying-to-see-it front-running musical like last year’s juggernaut, “The Book of Mormon.”
In fact, the producers have even invited the cast of “The Book of Mormon” to perform again this year. There also will be cameos by a little orphan Annie and Mary Poppins. And, to top it all off, one performance won’t even be nearby – the song from “Hairspray” will be performed from a cruise ship in the Caribbean Sea.
It promises to be a hectic night. During a morning rehearsal, winners were warned that they only had 90 seconds from the time their name was called to get on stage and give their speech before loud music will drown them out.
“It’s got that energy of any production,” said Heather A. Hitchens, the executive director of the American Theatre Wing. “The excitement and the anxiety hand in hand – that’s what makes it work.”
Last year’s Tonys was seen by 6.9 million viewers, roughly the same number as the year before. But the program, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, posted a 9 percent year-to-year gain in the ratings for the 18-to-49 demographic.