This Sunday night, the Gander Legion is going to be the hottest ticket outside Radio City Music Hall.
Both locations will be hosting the Tonys; one party will be fronted by actor Kevin Spacey and broadcast on four continents, while the other will be hosted by the incredible Beulah Cooper and will raise money for a new legion roof.
The legion housed Aer Lingus passengers for five days in 2001 as 7,000 passengers were grounded when American airspace closed.
Cooper was serving food and looking after people at the legion back then and she'll be there Sunday night doing the same. Her hospitality and kindness is one of the foundational storylines in the Canadian musical Come From Away.
If Come From Away wins Sunday night, it's going to feel like the province of Newfoundland and Labrador got a Tony.
A 'dogfight.' says Hollywood Reporter
Come From Away has certainly had a meteoric rise to the top of Broadway. But what are its chances of winning a Tony or two?
Most important, what are its chances of winning the most prestigious award: best musical? That win has the potential to inject rocket fuel in the production's hopes for a run in London's West End, an Australian production and much more.
It's a "dogfight," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which is using an algorithm to predict the Tony winners, and New York theatre reporters at Time Out and CBS NY are giving Dear Evan Hansen the edge.
Entertainment trade magazine Variety and the New York Times' Ben Brantley are predicting Come From Away will snatch the Tony right out of Dear Evan Hansen's hands.
It's undeniable that Come From Away is the underdog in this race. Aside from being a new show, it's an ensemble show not fronted by any stars, it's written by Canadians and Broadway newbies Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and not least of all, it's a show that touches on the horror of 9/11.
Plus this year's Tony field is the most crowded it has ever been; there were 13 eligible new musicals. All those new shows have fuelled a record year on Broadway; the New York Times says there's been $1.45 billion in ticket sales overall.
Come From Away has done well so far in the awards season, nabbing nominations for every best musical award and winning best musical in the Drama Desk Awards, the Helen Hayes Awards and the Outer Critics Circle Awards. But nothing beats that Tony.
Best actress award also in spotlight
Like the Oscars, there's a pre-awards show season to build buzz and influence the people who fill in the ballots.
More than 800 theatre professionals were eligible to vote on the Tony Awards until Friday.
Come From Away is a contender in several categories:
- Best musical
- Best book of a musical (script): Irene Sankoff and David Hein
- Best original score (music and/or lyrics): Irene Sankoff and David Hein
- Best director of a musical: Christopher Ashley
- Best performance by a featured actress in a musical: Jenn Colella
- Best choreography: Kelly Devine
- Best lighting design of a musical: Howell Binkley
Besides best musical, the other race Come From Away fans will be watching closely is Jenn Colella's nomination for best performance by a featured actress in a musical.
Colella's solo "Me and the Sky" — a soaring tribute to the ambitious dreams of American Airlines Capt. Beverly Bass — is the emotional peak of the show and never fails to elicit wild applause from the audience.
If that's the song the Come From Away cast performs on stage during the awards broadcast, it will create even more international buzz for the show, which is broadcast this year in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and Latin America as well as in Canada and the United States.
But no one will be watching as closely as the crowd at the Gander Legion. They've got two giant TVs donated for the night by a local furniture store, raffles, door prizes, snacks and a Come From Away photo booth.
Although there may be more stars at Radio City Music Hall, only the lucky ticket holders at the legion will experience the famous Central Newfoundland hospitality of Beulah Cooper, Bonnie Harris, Oz Fudge, Claude Elliott, Derm Flynn, Diane Davis, Brian Mosher, Janice Goudie and all the other volunteers whose spontaneous kindness inspired this incredible journey.
The Tony Awards will be live streamed at 9:30 pm Newfoundland time Sunday on CBS and CTV. Follow @ACAntleNL on Twitter for live updates from the legion and on CBC Radio morning shows and Here & Now on Monday.