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June 20, 2010  | by: Laura Rosenfeld

The Tony Awards is usually Broadway’s biggest night. But it seems Hollywood invaded this year’s awards show.

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performing at the 64th Annual Tony Awards.

The 64th annual Tony Awards aired Sunday, June 13, and like always, I was really looking forward to this year’s telecast. I’m a huge fan of Broadway musicals, so Tony night is always a very important night for me.

The show opened with host Sean Hayes playing the piano as cast members from this season’s shows performed short musical excerpts from their productions. It didn’t bother me that Hayes, an actor better-known for his work in television and movies than his current role as Chuck Baxter in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, was hosting the awards show. I was even OK with seeing Green Day perform in the opening number, even if they are not technically starring in the band’s new Broadway musical American Idiot. What first made me kind of angry was when Green Day’s performance seemed to be extended more than anyone else’s in the opening, clearly giving the most famous name more stage time. I don’t have anything against Green Day or their new musical, but it wasn’t right for the Tonys to become a showcase for a rock band instead of celebrating American Idiot’s performers.

That was just the beginning. The whole show seemed to be dominated by Hollywood actors. I’m not even talking about the laundry list of famous stars nominated for Tony Awards, like Scarlett Johansson, Denzel Washington and Catherine Zeta-Jones, all three of whom were winners that night. If a movie star comes to Broadway and gives a fantastic performance, he or she deserves to win for it. I’m referring to some of the random, widely-publicized presenters, such as Paula Abdul and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (producers of the Tony-nominated musical FELA!), who have little to do with Broadway, but probably have everything to do with winning viewers.

Television and movie stars have always had a large presence on the Great White Way. And as long as they are right for the role, I don’t have any problem with them being on Broadway. It bothers me that the Tony Awards seem to be more about getting enough viewers and less about showcasing exceptional Broadway productions. It’s especially important for people across the country that are not able to see Broadway shows to be exposed to their brilliance. As the Tony Awards become flooded with Hollywood stars, the true essence of Broadway may be lost.

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