It's not just the return of "Dallas" that has me feeling revved up about TV this week. Producers of tonight's 66th Annual Tony Awards promise there will be more performances from the musicals and plays nominated this year on the show than ever, and prodigiously talented host Neil Patrick Harris is back for his third turn emceeing -- which is as close as you can get to a guaranteed quality evening. ( Watch online encore here.)
Tony followers are waiting to find out who'll emerge victorious in the musical match-up between two movie-to-stage adaptations: Once, the small jewel about an Irish songwriter and his Czech muse, which tops the nominations list with 11 -- and Disney's big crowd pleaser, Newsies, with eight nominations.
I'm looking forward to seeing dancing from Newsies -- which Neil let us know by tweet is the best hoofing to be found on the Great White Way right now. I'm also looking forward to hearing the sumptuous voices of the incomparable Audra McDonald (up for her fifth Tony, which would also be her first as Lead Actress) and fellow nominee Norm Lewis of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
The acting categories are just rife with greats - like Philip Seymour Hoffman (Willy Loman in Mike Nichols' revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman) and James Earl Jones (as a former POTUS in the revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man). They're competing for Best Actor in a Play honors along with British funnyman James Corden ( One Man, Two Guvnors), who has taken the theater world by storm.
As for how Neil could possibly top his audacious opening number from last year, " It's Not Just for Gays Anymore," he has been keeping his plans quiet -- except on Twitter, where he joked to his followers: "Haven't been able to tweet in a while as I'm neck deep in The Tony Awards prep, and rehearsing all this Spiderman wire work is taking MONTHS!" At least...I think it was a joke.