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Tony Awards 2017: Kevin Spacey, ‘Great Comet,’ Bette Midler, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and, of course, Donald Trump

New York Daily News
Tony Awards 2017: Kevin Spacey, ‘Great Comet,’ Bette Midler, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and, of course, Donald Trump
BY JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ
Friday, June 9, 2017, 6:00 AM

The Tony Awards on Sunday will celebrate the Great White Way.

But there’s also bound to be streaks of Orange.

There are simply too many close ties (one degree of separation, in some instances) to Donald Trump to ignore.

The host of the CBS telecast airing from Radio City Music Hall is Kevin Spacey, who plays an evil President on Netflix on “House of Cards.” That’s a joke setup waiting in the wings.

Tony Awards nominations: ‘The Great Comet’ leads with 12 nods

When Kevin Spacey hosts the Tonys, he could get presidential in more ways than one.

When Kevin Spacey hosts the Tonys, he could get presidential in more ways than one.

(JOE PUGLIESE/CBS)

One of the presenters is Stephen Colbert — who only became a late-night ratings juggernaut once he started relentlessly trashing Trump.

Best actress in a musical nominee Bette Midler — a shoo-in to win for the multi-nominated revival, “Hello, Dolly!” — never hides her deep disdain for the 45th.

And then there are the nominees themselves, whose plots sound like set-ups for gags about Trump and his administration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MytaNqhEVE
1 | 3The cast of best musical nonimee “Come From Away” will perform from the show during the Tonys telecast.(BROADWAY.COM)

Like “Oslo,” a drama that revolves around back-channel negotiations — like the ones that Jared Kushner sought with Russia.

Tony Nominations: Age, fame, Oscars, diversity figure into races

Oh, and speaking of the Evil Empire, the musical “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” is set in Tolstoy’s Russia — and just happened to get the most nominations of all. (Did Putin interfere with that, too?)

Hello, Donny, indeed!

Bette Midler is a best actress in a musical shoo-in for "Hello, Dolly!" But she's not expected to sing on Tony night.

Bette Midler is a best actress in a musical shoo-in for “Hello, Dolly!” But she’s not expected to sing on Tony night.

(JULIETA CERVANTES)

Of course, issues and personal statements are the backbone of any awards show. But Trump is a body politic all his own. More than other commander-in-chiefs, he has cast a giant shadow over the arts — and performers feel compelled to speak out.

Still, there’s a chance that the Tonys will remain about jazz hands, not small hands.

David Hyde Pierce and his mustache are ready for the Tony Awards

“It’s a celebration of the season,” said Dave Boone, head writer of CBS live telecast airing at 8 p.m. “I hope Donald Trump’s name doesn’t come up much, if at all.”

MANDATORY CREDIT; NO ARCHIVE; NO SALES; NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY
1 | 4Will Tonys 2017 Tony presenter Stephen Colbert trash Trump in prime time? Tonys will tell.(TIMOTHY KURATEK/CBS)

Boone hopes, he added, that everyone “takes the high road.”

Good luck with that.

Then again, there’s plenty besides Trump to talk about at the 71st annual Tonys:

Kevin Spacey to host the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall

Stars of “Bandstand,” “Come From Away,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Groundhog Day,” “The Great Comet of 1812,” “War Paint,” “Falsettos,” “Miss Saigon” and “Hello, Dolly!” will perform at Radio City.

This year the field is full of tight races, including all-important ones for best musical and best play. In the former category, “Come From Away,” which is set on 9/11, and “Dear Evan Hansen,” about teenager’s lies that spin out of control, duke it out. In the latter, “Oslo,” about the peace accords, and “A Doll’s House, Part 1,” an Ibsen sequal are neck and neck.

What we do know is that producers have lined up a diverse array of stars to hand out prizes and to add luster. They include Orlando Bloom, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Taraji P. Henson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Oyelowo and Scarlett Johansson.

The brightest musical casts will hit the stage, too, with performances from “Bandstand,” “Come From Away,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Groundhog Day,” “Great Comet,” “War Paint,” “Falsettos,” “Miss Saigon” and “Hello, Dolly!”

The Radio City Rockettes and 2016 Tony winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. will also strut their stuff.

The 2017 Tony Awards will return to Radio City Music Hall

Which raises another burning question: Will Midler, who’s set to present a prize but not perform, surprise everyone? “I don’t think so,” said Boone.

Well, we can still hope — even if that word disappeared with the last administration.

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