By Morgan A. Grain and Photographs by Diane Allford
Theater fanatics will be pleased to know that the legendary vocalist and Broadway maven Deborah Cox will be co-hosting this year’s simulcast of the Tony awards with the multi-talented, fresh-faced Broadway star Justin Guarini.
The seventh annual simulcast of the Tony awards will take place June 7th from 4-11pm and will accommodate full audio and seating for 2,000 guests in the heart of the theater district in Times Square between 46th and 48th streets.
The simulcast, which Guarini is co-executive producer of alongside Clear Channel Spectacolor which is also the official media partner of the 69th annual Tony awards, will provide a fully immersive experience for audiences including red carpet arrivals and full awards presentations. Even the Creative Arts Award, which is usually a presented award that can only be seen from inside Radio City Music Hall, will be streamed live.
“We’ve both had our fair share of award shows,” said Guarini. “But this will be more fun for us because we get to be with the audience. Whenever they go to commercial break we get to pick up the party here [in Times Square].”
The 2,000 audience members in attendance are in for a treat, because during commercial breaks they will witness live performances by Cox and Guarini. Of course they stopped short of divulging hints as to what these lucky audience members might experience, but both co-hosts are glad they are able to participate in making theater more accessible to the masses.
“All of the wonderful musicals, singers, actors and performances, these are talents that we need to get outside of New York,” explained Cox. “We need to let young people know how great this medium of performance is.”
“It’s been such a struggle [making theater more available] because prices have gone up over the years,” added Guarini. “You end up pricing out the younger generation who over time will end up supporting you.”
With a Broadway season as phenomenal as this past year’s, Guarini and Cox are lucky they were relegated to hosting duties, and not deciding on who takes home the awards.
“It’s so tough to predict,” commented Cox. “Everyone is so immensely talented. It’s been a great season! I just saw an American in Paris and it was so beautifully done.”
Guarini’s top pick for the evening, Airline Highway, exposed some of his harmless bias. K. Todd Freeman is a friend of his, whose role in the Broadway show has earned him a nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
“It’s safe to say I’m pulling for him to win the Tony this year,” said Guarini
For a taste of new Broadway talent heading uptown to the Apollo Theater is a theater junkie’s best bet on snagging the scoop on Broadway’s next big stars. From old school to new school, Cox and Guarini recognize the iconic theater’s role in providing opportunities for upcoming talent.
“We love the Apollo,” said Cox. “So many great and iconic performances come from the Apollo, both in recording and Broadway world. And it’s a great training ground, because if you got it you got it. If you don’t, you get the boot.”
“It’s always been a life long dream for me to rub that stump,” added Guarini. “And it’s always been a life long nightmare to have the sand man come out. So hopefully one day I get a chance to rub the stump and get applause from the audience.”
Catch the live streaming of the simulcast on June 7th at Tonyawards.com