Tony Awards 2012: TV stars Neil Patrick Harris and 'Smash's' Christian Borle take to the boards for Broadway's big night

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On Broadway's night to show the world the magic that happens within a few Manhattan blocks, Irish pub music, Gershwin standards and American classics dominate.

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 66th Annual Tony Awards Sunday, June 10, on CBS. Though details for the live show from Manhattan's Beacon Theatre were not set at this writing, expect traditional Irish music from "Once," with the most nominations, 11. And with 10 nods each, expect numbers from "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," starring Audra McDonald, and "Nice Work If You Can Get It," starring Matthew Broderick, also with a Gershwin score.

And if the audience is lucky, it will see a bunch of ragtag pirates dressed as mermaids in a number from "Peter and the Starcatcher." This delightful play, with nine nominations, details Captain Hook and Peter Pan's history. It would be an upset if Christian Borle (Tom on "Smash"), as an absolutely fabulous pirate prone to malapropisms, did not win.

"I didn't know the rule," he tells Zap2it as to why he's up for a featured rather than lead Tony. "You have to have your name over the title."

Borle's in a category with Michael Cumpsty as the beleaguered accompanist to Judy Garland in "End of the Rainbow"; Tom Edden, playing an ancient waiter in "One Man, Two Guvnors"; Jeremy Shamos, playing two racists in "Clybourne Park"; and Andrew Garfield as Biff in "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman."

Besides Borle, other familiar TV actors nominated include Judith Light ( "Who's the Boss?"), a dowdy, alcoholic writer in "Other Desert Cities," which garnered five nods.

Giddy over her second straight nomination, Light says, "My friend Katie Finneran said to me, 'You are still like an ingenue.' I am the oldest ingenue on Broadway."

Earlier in the run of "Other Desert Cities," Linda Lavin ( "Alice") had Light's role, and she's now up for a lead Tony for "The Lyons," as a woman about to become a widow after 40 years in a loveless marriage.

"It's like that joy of being invited to the party, the work being validated," Lavin says.

Her worry for the Tonys? "Trying to get a designer to loan me a damned dress," she says.
Even multiple winners remain excited. "It's too overwhelming, and for something like this, which we worked so hard on, it is quite a boon," says McDonald, who left "Private Practice" for "Porgy and Bess" and is up for her fifth Tony.

As Porgy, nominee Norm Lewis walks with his leg turned inward, rather than rely on a cart as the character usually does.

"I get chiropractic help and physical therapy, and I stretch a lot," he says.

Lewis faces Steve Kazee of "Once," who plays guitar and sings; Danny Burstein and Ron Raines, both of "Follies"; and Jeremy Jordan of "Newsies," a Disney production with strong choreography.

john-lithgow-the-columnist-325.jpgJordan was gobsmacked that John Lithgow knew who he was and talked to him.

Nominated for his sixth Tony for "The Columnist," in which he plays powerful newspaper scribe Joseph Alsop, Lithgow says, "I am not going to win. I am quite convinced of that because a couple of people there almost certainly will win."

He vies with James Corden, brilliant in "One Man, Two Guvnors"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, excellent as Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman"; Frank Langella, perfect as an imperious father in "Man and Boy"; and James Earl Jones, a joy as the former president in "Gore Vidal's The Best Man."

Jones confirms what's obvious in his performance. "It is an illegal amount of fun," he says.
Photo/Video credit: The O & M Co./© 2012 Andrew Eccles