Imagine an awards show with many surprises but zero shocks. Where talent — the real stuff — is rewarded in measure, according to precise considerations of its concentration across several disciplines and dozens of worthwhile projects. An awards show minus any red carpet raptors demanding the designers of passing gowns. With zero hammy celebrity 360-scanners or group selfies or lame stunts involving “real people.” It sounds like a fantasy, but it’s really just the Tonys.
And will this year’s 72nd installment of the ceremony continue to find CBS slipping into PBS drag for a night? Is Tony short for Antoinette? (As a matter of fact, yes!)
Sunday night’s fête at Radio City Music Hall (airing at 8 p.m.) will be pleasantly-mildly cohosted by Sara Bareilles (the brains, voice, and soul behind “Waitress”) and Josh Groban (a past nominee for his role in “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”), who warned CBS in advance: “It's just going to be a lot of standing around awkwardly” — which in awards show terms, quite frankly sounds like a Swedish massage right now.
And while this may slightly undercut my fresh assertion of the Tonys’ high-art dominance over other awards shows, I’m obligated by fact-stuff to tell you this year’s nominations are led by the musical adaptations of “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with 12 each — including one for Bareilles for a song she penned for the latter. (The “Angels in America” and “Carousel” revivals each scored 11, as did “The Band’s Visit.”)
And in the category for best play, all bespectacled eyes are on “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Yes, I know it sounds like I’m emptying your kid’s bookbag on the table.
Still, I promise the Tonys will be good enough to make up for me acting all enthused over the CMT Awards earlier this week. What was that all about, anyway? (Hey, Andrew Garfield’s not the only one who’d like a Tony.)Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.