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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 06/10/2010

Five reasons to watch Sunday's Tony Awards

By Jen Chaney

Catherine Zeta-Jones (center) is just one Hollywood regular on the Tony nominee list. (Joan Marcus)

Anyone who even casually follows the Broadway scene usually pays attention to the Tony Awards. The trophies, handed out to the best productions to splash on to New York stages during the past year, are important to theater people for a couple of reasons. One: they can sometimes have a positive impact on ticket sales, at least in the short term. (This year, revenues went up around the time nominations were announced, then slumped again.) And more importantly, they are an honor for any budding actor, writer, director, producer or otherwise theater-affiliated person to receive.

That said, the average person -- you know, someone who doesn't know all the lyrics from the soundtrack of "Spring Awakening" -- may avoid tuning into the Tonys because he/she assumes that the ceremony won't be interesting to anyone who resides outside of Manhattan and/or has never yearned to belt out a tune from "Cabaret." As an awards show junkie, I am admittedly biased. But I think the Tony Awards, especially this year, are worth checking out. Here are five reasons to watch this Sunday night.

1. You will recognize many of the nominees.

As this photo gallery demonstrates, some big-name Hollywood types are included among this year's group of worthy contenders. Among them: Denzel Washington, Scarlett Johansson, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Laura Linney. Most members of the stage community, understandably, don't want the Tonys to turn into a facsimile of the Academy Awards. But the star power definitely makes the occasion a little more glamorous to TV viewers who don't know the difference between stage left and stage right.

2. The presenters? You will recognize many of them, too.

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Daniel Radcliffe. Katie Holmes. Paula Abdul. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ... okay, I was just kidding about that last one. But the other people I mentioned will all walk the Radio City Music Hall stage on Tony night.

3. One word: "Glee." Two more: Green Day.

"Glee" has made it somewhat fashionable -- or at least acceptably nerdy -- to belt out showtunes. So it makes perfect sense that Broadway vets and "Glee" stars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison will appear to sing a duet -- something more lavish Broadway musical and less Journey, I'm guessing. And for those who break out in a hot rash at the mere mention of the words lavish, Broadway and musical in the same sentence, Green Day also plans to make an appearance to perform a song from their Tony-nominated musical, "American Idiot."

4. Sean Hayes is hosting.

Ordinarily that piece of information would mostly be of interest to longtime admirers of "Will and Grace." But given that Hayes inadvertently stood at the center of a recent controversy over gay actors playing straight roles, thanks to a much-dissected piece in Newsweek, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the actor has to say about the matter. (He was more than mum during a conference call with reporters earlier this week, according to our colleague Emily Yahr. But he also hinted that he just might have something to say during the show.) He's also nominated for his turn in "Promises, Promises"; if he wins, I have to think he'll also have some choice words for Newsweek in his acceptance speech.

5. Unapologetic musical numbers!

Uh-oh. Just when I had you considering at least DVRing the Tonys, I had to scare you away with the musical numbers. Honestly, though, the Tonys live for this sort of things. Whereas the random interludes during the Oscars often seem maddeningly tangential, especially when the show is already running an hour behind, the ones at the Tonys serve a purpose. And since they're made by the people on Broadway, for the people on Broadway, they can often be show-stoppers. So go on, let your showtune-loving, gleek flag fly. If you're that embarrassed, you can always tell all your friends that the only reason you really watched was to see ScarJo and Denzel.

By Jen Chaney  | June 10, 2010; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Award Shows  
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5 reasons not to watch the Tony Awards:
1) Still recovering from all the Guinness i down at Fado Saturday afternoon listening to British expats sing 3 lions at the top of their lungs...
2) i dont care about the tony awards
3) i dont care about the people who care about the tony awards
4) i dont care about the people who are interviewing the celebrities (that, coincidentally, i also dont care about) about what accessories they're wearing to the tony awards (except the burning question of 'if you spill alcohol on that will you go to jail?')
5) Jeremy Piven will be there

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | June 10, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Quints, Fado's can make the next day pretty rough. Just try to limit the number of car bombs you do.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | June 10, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Broadway is one of the most impressive art forms there is and we are all grateful for every one of these talented actors. Good luck and be STYLISH.

Posted by: dtroppy | June 10, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I have to point out that the caption ignores Angela Lansbury, who also stars alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones in "A Little Night Music." She wasn't nominated (I don't think), but she's a Broadway veteran who's still kickin' it at 84 (with, I believe, a new knee to boot). As if that wasn't enough, she didn't have much down time between "A Little Night Music" and her previous turn as the psychic in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," which was fabulous.

I have to say, though, that it is harder for those of us who don't live in or near New York to care about the Tony Awards. Having recently moved to the greater NYC metropolitan area, I'm all about it. But then, that's also because I can get cheap tickets as a starving grad student.

Posted by: ras4q | June 10, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I can hardly wait! The Tonys are always the best awards show of the year.

Jen, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't note Angela Lansbury in the caption for the photo from "A Little Night Music" because she's just so darn famous, right?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

ras4q, re Lansbury, great minds think alike!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Lansbury was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. If she wins on Sunday, she'll hold the record for the most Tony wins by an actor. And, yes, they should have captioned her in the photo!

Posted by: SueBee0619 | June 11, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

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