By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — The Tony Awards aren't scheduled until June 12, but Upper West Siders have already started the countdown to Broadway's biggest night.
Organizers of this year's Tony Awards have started to roll production vehicles and equipment into place around the Beacon Theatre on West 74th Street and Broadway for a "two week pre-production, equipment, stage and tent set-up," according to a letter sent by show organizers to local residents and businesses.
Production vehicles will be parked on both sides of Amsterdam Avenue between West 73rd and 76th streets, the east side of Broadway between West 73rd and 75th streets; and both sides of 75th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.
On Wednesday afternoon, barricades had been set up to keep pedestrians off the sidewalk on the east side of the Amsterdam Avenue between West 74th and 75th streets to create space for equipment.
A group of older residents at an assisted living facility sat on chairs on the sidewalk, watching the commotion. Resident Bob Tom Kuss said he didn't mind the disruption, because he was glad to have the Tony Awards right around the corner.
"The Tonys need all the support they can get," Kuss said. "They're good for the theater and they're valuable for the industry. People will watch it, and get curious about the shows and they'll buy tickets."
The tents, equipment and vehicles will stay in place until June 15, three days after the awards show — hosted by "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris — are broadcast live on CBS.
Show organizers say they'll maintain pedestrian walkways and "emergency access" for the entire run of the production.
Tony Awards officials say they're working closely with the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, police, and the Department of Transportation to make sure the show, now in its 65th year, runs smoothly.
Organizers said they want "to ensure that this event is not only a success for the television producers and all talent involved, but also to make sure that we do everything possible to minimize impacts to the surrounding community."
The Tony Awards are expected to draw an audience of roughly 2,500 to the Beacon, and the guest list includes big name celebs like Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matthew Broderick, and Whoopi Goldberg.
On June 12, there's a morning dress rehearsal, with red carpet arrivals scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. After the show, roughly 35 coach buses will transport 1,400 to 2,000 people to a post-show gala at the Plaza Hotel starting at 10:30 p.m.
Organizers say the Beacon should be cleared out by midnight.
"This event will be tightly managed and supervised with security personnel ensuring a safe and considerate environment at all times," the letter to community members states.
The letter also lists the phone number to call if residents have concerns. The Tony Awards location department can be reached at (212) 631-5050.