NEW YORK - The Tony Awards kick off with Kevin Spacey as its first-time host hoping to shake the telecast's post-"Hamilton" hangover.
The leading musical Tony nominees on Sunday are "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" with 12 nominations, "Dear Evan Hansen" with nine and "Hello, Dolly!" with 10. The top play nominees are "A Doll's House, Part 2," with eight, and "Oslo" with seven. Last year, all eyes were on how many statuettes "Hamilton" would capture. This year, the awards are expected to be scattered around.
"It's such a great season for musicals," said Astrid Van Wieren, who stars in "Come From Away," a show based on real events about how a Canadian town opened its arms to stranded people on 9/11.
"There isn't just one. 'Hamilton' — God bless, great show; it reinvigorated everything — but there isn't that feeling that the season is owned by one show. There's so much for everyone to see," she said.
The presenters will be the regular mix of Broadway and Hollywood, including Orlando Bloom, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Josh Gad, Taraji P. Henson, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Wilde, Scott Bakula, Sara Bareilles, Glenn Close, Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg, Mark Hamill, Allison Janney, John Legend, John Lithgow, Patina Miller, David Oyelowo, Sarah Paulson, Lea Salonga and Tom Sturridge.
Those watching will see musical numbers from nine new and revival musicals, including "Bandstand," ''Come From Away," ''Dear Evan Hansen," ''Falsettos," ''Groundhog Day The Musical," ''Hello, Dolly!," ''Miss Saigon," ''Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812," and "War Paint."
But one thing they won't get to hear is Bette Midler sing after talks failed to land the diva, who is starring in a hit revival of "Hello, Dolly." In other sour notes, the thriving and popular show "Anastasia" didn't get a slot, despite its draw with young people, particularly women. Nor will the musicals "A Bronx Tale" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," despite their box office popularity and the inclusion of some other shows that are struggling.
Broadway producers will be thankful this year that the telecast won't have to compete with any NBA Finals games, but there will be a Stanley Cup playoff game. They'll also be keeping their fingers crossed that they avoid any technical or human snafus that have marred previous awards shows this year, including the wrong winner announced at the Oscars and sound issues at the Grammys.
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