And the Tony Goes to…

The year’s most nominated productions are still on Broadway.

Every year, theater enthusiasts across the globe eagerly await arrival of the Tony Awards, a culminating event, similar to the Oscars, where the year’s best Broadway productions are evaluated and honored. As one might expect, the award show is often as exciting as the nominated productions, featuring dazzling cast performances expertly choreographed. For the past three years (and in 2009), Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Tony’s to great acclaim. This year, Harris is busy performing in the smash-hit rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so Hugh Jackman will be returning as host for the first time since 2005! So what are the year’s top nominees?

Leading the pack with 10 nominations including Best Musical, actor, score, book, and direction, is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a critically acclaimed musical comedy that also features one actor playing eight roles (Jefferson Mays)! The story follows a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to speed up the line of succession by eliminating the other eight heirs standing in his way. It’s a smart, silly and bold production that shows just how low we’ll go to make it to the top. (Walter Kerr Theatre, 48th St. b/w Broadway and 8th Ave.)

The second most heavily nominated production at this year’s Tony Awards is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the spectacular rock musical starring Neil Patrick Harris as an East German transgender singer living in a Kansas trailer park and fronting a band – a role far removed from that of Barney Stinson on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother. Nominated for 8 Tony’s including Best Musical Revival, actor, and actress, Hedwig is heartbreaking, funny and entertaining, to say the least. It’s a different sort of musical comedy, and one you should not miss! (Belasco Theatre, 44th St. nr. 6th Ave.)

Ringing in with 7 nominations, including Best Musical, actress, choreography and direction, After Midnight is Broadway’s “Cotton Club” musical revue featuring the big-band songs of Duke Ellington accompanied by some of the city’s best singers and dancers. While it is too late to see special guest star Vanessa Williams perform, you can still catch American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino (through 6/8) or Patti Labelle (6/10-6/29) perform songs from the height of the jazz era. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 47th St. nr. 8th Ave.)

Lastly, also clocking in with 7 nominations including Best Musical, actress, actor and book, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of the chart-topping musical legend’s rise to stardom, from her early years as a shy Jewish girl in Brooklyn to the woman whose music defined a generation. Featuring classic and timeless songs like “On Broadway”, “Locomotion” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, Beautiful is an irresistible must-see with all-around stellar performances. (Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 43rd St. nr. 6th Ave.)

The 68th Annual Tony Awards airs Sunday, June 8th at 8/7c live on CBS.