Need more reasons to watch this year's Tony Awards? How about this new line-up of stars recently added to the June 7, CBS-TV broadcast:
John Lithgow, Jane Seymour, Craig T. Nelson (Ah, Wilderness!), Patti LuPone (Anything Goes), Barry Bostwick (Nick & Nora), Christine Lahti, Nell Carter (Annie), Tommy Tune (Easter Parade), Mark Linn-Baker (A Flea In Her Ear), Swoosie Kurtz, Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls), Betty Buckley (Triumph of Love), Stockard Channing (The Little Foxes) and Marilu Henner (Chicago).
Also newly announced (June 1) is the line-up for production numbers from this year's nominated Broadway musicals. Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Friedman, Marin Mazzie and Audra McDonald will lead the Ragtime company in that show's title tune. Co-nominees Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner will jointly sing "I Will Never Leave You." Tsidii Le Loka and Samuel E. Wright will lead the Lion King company on the justly celebrated "Circle of Life" number. Douglas Sills will sing "Into The Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
As for the revival nominees, "Sit Down, John," the opening number from 1776, will feature that show's ensemble, while a Sound of Music medley will feature Rebecca Luker and cast-mates going from "The Wedding Scene" to "Do Re Me" and the show's finale. Cabaret's Alan Cumming and the Kit Kat Klub girls will bid Tony viewers "Wilkommen."
As for the 8-9 PM Public Television part of the Tonys, the show will be structured similarly to last year's program, which took a documentary approach to directors and designers. Included will be footage of Paul Simon working on Capeman, as well as interviews with Cumming, Mitchell, Lion King director Julie Taymor, Ragtime librettist Terrence McNally, William Ivey Long, Eugene Lee, Frank Galati, Beauty Queen of Leenane director Garry Hynes, William David Brohn, Santo Loquasto, Garth Fagan and Lebo M. Helen Hunt, 1998 Oscar winner for As Good as It Gets and star of Lincoln Center's upcoming production of Twelfth Night, led the list of previously-announced presenters. Other stars scheduled to appear are Alec Baldwin (Macbeth at the Public Theater), Marisa Tomei (Broadway's Wait Until Dark), Nathan Lane (Manhattan Theatre Club's Mizlansky/Zilinsky), Angela Lansbury (four-time Tony winner), Annette Bening, Liam Neeson (Broadway's The Judas Kiss), and Bebe Neuwirth (a Tony winner in 1997 for Chicago). Rosie O'Donnell is hosting for the second year in a row.
Unlike recent Tony ceremonies, the four nominated new plays -- Art, Freak, Golden Child, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane -- will also receive a featured spot on the telecast. Tonys spokesman Keith Sherman said it was not certain how the plays would be represented on the telecast, but previous reports have suggested that the four playwrights may provide synopses of their works.
For the second year in a row, the first hour of the awards (8-9 PM) will be a semi-taped broadcast on Public Television. This allows the presentation of all 20 Tony Awards to be broadcast live (as opposed to previous years, which sometimes had a cut-and-paste feel for the pre-taped technical and design awards). The PBS hour will take a look at the 1997-98 season through interviews with directors Julie Taymor, Frank Galati, and Garry Hynes; actors Alan Cumming and Brian Stokes Mitchell; and playwright Terrence McNally. The program will also feature footage of best score nominee Paul Simon working of the now defunct musical The Capeman.
The line-up for the awards on both PBS and CBS is as follows:
PBS (8-9 PM EST): Direction (Play, Musical), Score, Book, Orchestrations of Musical; Choreography, Lighting, Scenic, Costume Design.
CBS (9-11 PM EST): Best Play, Musical, Leading Actor (Play, Musical), Leading Actress (Play, Musical), Featured Actor (Play, Musical), Featured Actress (Play, Musical), Revival.
O'Donnell will serve as a producer of the event, with Walter C. Miller -- who's directed Tony broadcasts since 1987 -- serving as executive producer. Roy Somlyo will again serve as managing producer of the Tonys, as he has since 1987. In 1999, however, he'll step down and be succeeded by Edgar Dobie, former president of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company. Somlyo will stay on as a consultant for two further years.
-- By Robert Simonson