The Tony Awards Take Over

Dear Readers,

The 2010-11 Broadway season has been one of the busiest and most diverse in recent memory. A total of 43 productions have taken us to such far-flung locales as contemporary Iraq ("Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo"), the World War I battlefields of Europe ("War Horse"), a downtrodden Ugandan village ("The Book of Mormon"), early-19th-century New Orleans ("A Free Man of Color"), war-torn Warsaw ("The People in the Picture"), and a 1930s ocean liner crossing the Atlantic ("Anything Goes"). Risky Off-Broadway transfers "The Scottsboro Boys" and "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" were cheek by jowl with the jukebox musicals "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and "Baby It's You!"

Revivals of Shakespeare ("The Merchant of Venice"), Shaw ("Mrs. Warren's Profession"), Stoppard ("Arcadia"), Wilde ("The Importance of Being Earnest"), Guare ("The House of Blue Leaves"), Kanin ("Born Yesterday"), Mamet ("A Life in the Theatre"), and Kramer ("The Normal Heart") played alongside new plays by David Lindsay-Abaire ("Good People"), Eric Simonson ("Lombardi"), and Stephen Adly Guirgis ("The Motherf**ker With the Hat") and the British imports "Jerusalem" by Jez Butterworth and "The Pitmen Painters" by Lee Hall. Noël Coward was radically reinterpreted in a multimedia adaptation of "Brief Encounter," while film favorites "Catch Me If You Can," "Sister Act," "Elf," and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" came to the musical stage.

Mark Rylance dazzled us in two diverse roles ("Jerusalem" and "La Bête"). We've also had visits from theater royalty like Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones ("Driving Miss Daisy"); stars of other media such as Daniel Radcliffe ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"), Chris Rock ("The Motherf**ker With the Hat"), Robin Williams ("Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo"), Ben Stiller ("The House of Blue Leaves"), and Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric ("That Championship Season"); solo players John Leguizamo and Colin Quinn; and popular variety stars such as Donny and Marie Osmond, Pee-wee Herman, and Kathy Griffin. Ironically, the show that drew the most attention hasn't even opened yet—"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark"—but it will be the first official production of the 2011-12 season when it opens June 14.

This year Back Stage celebrates this amazing season with one of our biggest Tony Awards Spotlights ever. In addition to our annual profiles of all the acting nominees—39 this year—we turn the focus on cover girl Sutton Foster, a current nominee for "Anything Goes" and a previous winner for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" chat with four first-time nominees; peer into the Lookingglass Theatre Company, winner of this year's Regional Theatre Tony; and browse in the Drama Book Shop, a mainstay of the New York theater community and the recipient of a Tony Honor.

The Tonys will be presented Sunday, June 12, at 8 p.m. EDT in a live telecast by CBS from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Back Stage will be there, on the red carpet and in the press room. Check, as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages, for live updates.

Best Regards,

David Sheward, Executive Editor