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Bernadette Peters On Broadway

Bernadette Peters will be hosting the Tony awards ceremony for the first time this year with Gregory Hines as her co-host.

Peters is a familiar face and voice to theater fans, having starred in several Broadway plays. She has two Tonys, one for Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Song and Dance" and the other for the revival of "Annie Get Your Gun." On Wednesday, she was The Early Show's guest, kicking off the program's "Road To The Tonys" feature.

The American Theatre Wing's 56th annual Tony Awards® ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 2, at New York's Radio City Music Hall. It will be aired on CBS from 9 to 11 p.m.

Peters says she and and Hines will be joined in this celebration by a diverse collection of performers, ranging from Marvin Hamlisch, Harry Connick Jr. and Michele Lee to Mos Def, Donna Murphy and John Raitt. Lea Salonga, who will star this fall on Broadway in a revised version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song," will also perform.

As for the awards, Peters says she doesn't expect one show to sweep the ceremony, as "The Producers" did last year.

"It's a different kind of a year," she says. "I don't see it in quite the same way as last year."

The show's best segments always have been scenes from the nominated musicals, both new and old. The cast of "Oklahoma!" will do one of the show's best dance numbers, "The Farmer and the Cowman." Its competitor "Into the Woods" will offer the first-act finale of the James Lapine-Stephen Sondheim musical.

"Millie" will perform "Forget About the Boy," sung by its star, Sutton Foster
- a possible winner for actress-musical - and a defiant female chorus.
"Urinetown," the sardonic story of a city where people pay to use bathroom
facilities, will showcase one of its more conventional numbers, the
gospel-flecked "Run, Freedom, Run!" - a song not likely to upset Middle

Of the other best-musical nominees, "Sweet Smell of Success" will offer
"Dirt," an apt description of the items likely to get into the gossip columns written by the show's power-hungry newspaperman, played by John Lithgow (another probable winner). And for a bit of 1970s nostalgia, "Mamma Mia!" will resurrect several of its Abba tunes, most prominently "Dancing Queen," for its three to four minutes of national television exposure.

The Tonys have saluted excellence in Broadway theatre since 1947, when they were founded by the American Theatre Wing. The League of American Theatres and Producers have co-presented the awards since 1967. The year 2002 will mark CBS's 25th consecutive telecast of the Tony Awards.

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