Tight Tony Awards race features movie, music stars

Sun Jun 13, 2010 6:41pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Famous stage actors, Hollywood stars and big-name musicians are set to gather at the Tony Awards on Sunday, when American theater's top honors are announced.

Critics were split on who will win some of this year's awards, but Hollywood names including Denzel Washington, Scarlett Johansson, Jude Law, Laura Linney and Catherine Zeta-Jones are scattered among the nominees for the show, which will be broadcast from New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Punk rock band Green Day was expected to perform along with appearances by well-known figures including Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, Katie Holmes, Antonio Banderas, and rapper and now Broadway producer Jay-Z.

Two shows that transferred from London, "Red," a play that uncovers the angst of artist Mark Rothko, and a revival of campy musical "La Cage aux Folles," were heavily favored to win best play and best musical revival.

Unlike previous years, competition for the best new musical award is fiercest, with "Fela!" a dance musical telling of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti favored along with "Memphis," about the roots of rock'n'roll and at lesser odds, Green Day's musical "American Idiot."

The Jay-Z produced "Fela!," which blazed its way onto Broadway in November and tied for the highest number of Tony nominations with "La Cage aux Folles," would be the first musical to center on the lives of black characters to win best musical since "Ain't Misbehavin" in 1978.

TOSS-UPS

"Red," in which British Actor Alfred Molina has been hailed for capturing the intensity of Rothko, is the bet to win best new play, ahead of "Next Fall" about two gay New Yorkers in what some critics regarded as a lukewarm season for new productions.   Continued...

 
<p>Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her work in "A Little Night Musical", signs a clock as she arrives for a Tony Award nominees press reception in New York City May 5, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>