NEW YORK -- What's in a song? Plenty, if you are a Tony Award nominee for best musical and get a little less than four minutes to put your best voice forward to sell your Broadway show before a national TV audience.
In an antiseptic conference room on the 44th floor of midtown Manhattan's Flatotel, 14 people sit around two tables pushed together to accommodate the crowd. They're here to discuss what production number to put in the Tonys telecast.
At one end huddle folks associated with one of the nominated musicals, "Avenue Q." At the other is a group headed by the TV show's executive producers, Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss.
Call it nuts and bolts time -- how to showcase "Avenue Q," the cheeky little musical featuring puppets and eager 20-somethings out to find life and love and, at the same time, conquer Manhattan.
The scene is repeated with teams from the three other new shows ("The Boy From Oz," "Caroline, or Change," and "Wicked") and three of the shows nominated as best musical revival ("Wonderful Town," "Assassins," and "Fiddler on the Roof" -- the fourth, "Big River," is no longer running.)
All will be part of the CBS telecast June 6 from Radio City Music Hall.
Weiss and Kirshner reassure the shows that they want each of them to play to their strengths.
"We are really open," says Weiss at the "Avenue Q" meeting. "This is not an ego trip. We want to present your show as best we can."
Jason Moore, the musical's director, takes the Tony people through the song they want to perform. He explains what actors will be onstage for the number -- "It Sucks to Be Me" -- as well as what parts of the song and bits of dialogue will be trimmed to fit the time constraints: 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
For "The Boy From Oz," the musical about Australian entertainer Peter Allen, the question was how best to showcase its star, Tony nominee Hugh Jackman, who plays Allen. "Hugh was keen to do something that is up-tempo, kind of Peter Allen-esque, rather than one of the more downbeat ballads," explained Ben Gannon, one of the producers of "The Boy From Oz."
So the "Oz" number will feature Jackman and the band onstage with a couple of the female singers warbling "Not the Boy Next Door," which was Allen's signature song.
Jackman also is host of the awards show. "Wicked," Broadway's most lavish new musical, will demonstrate that lavishness with its eye-popping first-act closer, "Defying Gravity," said producer David Stone. The show is a $14 million look at the witches from "The Wizard of Oz," before the arrival of Dorothy.
The "Wicked" song, by veteran composer Stephen Schwartz, will be preceded by a scene between the show's two witches. It will give viewers a chance to see the show's two leading ladies, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, in action, before the "Defying Gravity" number, which features a soaring-to-the-skies Menzel.
"Caroline, or Change," Tony Kushner's story of a black maid working for a white family in 1960s Louisiana, has opted for a more intimate but no less powerful moment. It will present Tonya Pinkins's showstopping lament "Lot's Wife," in which the woman unleashes all her unhappiness about her life.
"The song has ample heart and a spectrum of emotions that will fill the television screen and the stage at Radio City," Carole Shorenstein Hays, lead producer of "Caroline," said.
Globe on NECN
Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:
9:30 a.m.: "Talk of New England"
12:30 p.m.: "Globe at Home" -- Garden writer Carol Stocker and Henry Schmidt from Weston Nurseries with insight on annuals.
4 p.m.: "Around the Globe"
6:30 p.m.: "New England Business Day"
8 p.m.: "NewsNight" Schedule is subject to change.
Noon: Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert chats about the tube.
1:30 p.m.: Celtics coach Doc Rivers takes your questions.
2 p.m.: Globe Handyman Peter Hotton offers tips for home repair.
Talk of the dial
4 p.m. WBIX-AM (1060) -- "Mark Mills." Guest: Alex Motola, managing director, Thornburg Investment Management.
Other radio highlights
9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21; Bach's Orchestral SuiteNo. 4; Saint-Georges's Violin Concerto No. 1.
Noon WGBH-FM (89.7) -- "Classical Performances." Schumann's Cello Concerto in A (Op. 129); Szymanowski's 20 Mazurkas, No.'s 11-20; Haydn's Symphony No. 67; Reger's Ballet Suite.
7 p.m. WUMB-FM (91.9) -- "Folkscene" with Roz and Howard Larman. Guests: the Kennedys.