Remember when the Tony Awards had to cram everything -- every award, every production number, every presentation -- into the 9-11 PM slot? That was before PBS came on the scene three years ago, giving the ceremony an extra hour of breathing room, including more time to learn about the nominees and the theatre season itself.
Ten awards will be distributed during the PBS hour:
Director of a Play
Director of a Musical
Book of a Musical
Special Tony for Regional Theatre (to Crossroads Theatre, NJ)
The PBS show will also feature a backstage warm-up at The Iceman Cometh, with Iceman designer Bob Crowley visiting the actual bar that inspired his set for the show. Also featured will be director Ann Reinking rehearsing the "Big Spender" number in Fosse, and a backstage tour with Richard Hoover explaining his set design for Not About Nightingales.
Interviewees include actress Elizabeth Franz and director Robert Falls (Death of a Salesman), and actress Kristin Chenoweth and director Michael Mayer (You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown). "This is more than just awards coverage," PBS broadcast producer Jeff Folmsbee said in a statement. "It's a total theatrical experience." As for the CBS coverage, they couldn't find a hostess with the mostess, but the Tonys do have a number of stars lined up as presenters for the June 6 event.
Among the notables set to appear are Kevin Spacey, Jason Robards and Stockard Channing, as well as Jason Robards, Carol Burnett (due this coming season in Putting it Together), David Hyde Pierce, Scott Wolf and Rosie O'Donnell. The latter is especially unexpected, since O'Donnell declined the opportunity to host the Tonys this year, citing an onerous work schedule.
Recently added to the roster are former Tony host Angela Lansbury, Christian Slater, Beatrice Arthur, Laurence Fishburne, and Calista Flockhart (a ubiquitous theatre presence until "Ally McBeal" made her a TV star). Executive Producer Walter C. Miller said in a statement that this year's Tonys would open with a "special musical number" and, though hostless, group together presenters linked by their "theatrical ties." For example, Spacey and Robards, both Iceman Hickeys, will share the stage, as will Julie Andrews & Carol Burnett, Baranski & Rivera, and Angela Lansbury & Bea Arthur.
As in past years, all the musical nominees will get to do a production number on the broadcast -- including Parade, which closed months ago. A Carolee Carmello and Brent Carver duet from Parade is expected, as are tunes from The Civil War, Fosse, It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues, as well as numbers from the revivals Annie Get Your Gun (a duet for Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat), Peter Pan (with Cathy Rigby), You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and Little Me (with Martin Short). The latter musical also closed earlier in the season.
Segments devoted to the Tony-nominated new plays Side Man, Not About Nightingales, The Lonesome West and Closer will be shown on the CBS telecast, though Tony spokespersons weren't yet clear how the non-musicals would be represented on the CBS brodcast. Actual clips from the shows will be shown on the PBS hour.
The annual "Tony Award" Time Private Supper Party was held at Sardi's, May 23, with entertainment featuring songs from shows not in competition: Cats, Les Miz, Phantom, Rent, Chicago and Cabaret.
Here's the complete list of Tony nominations:
Best New Musical:
The Civil War
It Ain't Nothing But the Blues
Best Revival of a Musical:
Annie Get Your Gun
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Best Book of a Musical
Footloose, Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie
It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues, Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Ron Taylor & Dan Wheetman
Marlene, Pam Gems
Parade, Alfred Uhry
Best Original Score
Footloose, Tom Snow, Eric Carmen, Dean Pitchford, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins & Jim Steinman
Parade, Jason Robert Brown
The Civil War, Frank Wildhorn & Jack Murphy
Twelfth Night, Jeanine Tesori
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Brian Dennehy, Death of a Salesman
Brían O'Byrne, The Lonesome West
Corin Redgrave, Not About Nightingales
Kevin Spacey, The Iceman Cometh
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Brent Carver, Parade
Adam Cooper, Swan Lake
Martin Short, Little Me
Tom Wopat, Annie Get Your Gun
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Carolee Carmello, Parade
Dee Hoty, Footloose
Bernadette Peters, Annie Get Your Gun
Siân Phillips, Marlene
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Kevin Anderson, Death of a Salesman
Finbar Lynch, Not About Nightingales
Howard Witt, Death of a Salesman
Frank Wood, Side Man
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Claire Bloom, Electra
Samantha Bond, Amy's View
Dawn Bradfield, The Lonesome West
Elizabeth Franz, Death of a Salesman
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Roger Bart, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Desmond Richardson, Fosse
Ron Taylor, It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues
Scott Wise, Fosse
Best Scenic Design
Bob Crowley, The Iceman Cometh
Bob Crowley, Twelfth Night
Riccardo Hernandez, Parade
Richard Hoover, Not About Nightingales
Best Costume Design
Lez Brotherston, Swan Lake
Santo Loquasto, Fosse
John David Ridge, Ring Round the Moon
Catherine Zuber, Twelfth Night
Best Lighting Design
Andrew Bridge, Fosse
Mark Henderson, The Iceman Cometh
Natasha Katz, Twelfth Night
Chris Parry, Not About Nightingales
Patricia Birch, Parade
Matthew Bourne, Swan Lake
A.C. Ciulla, Footloose
Rob Marshall, Little Me
Best Direction Of A Play
Howard Davies, The Iceman Cometh
Robert Falls, Death of a Salesman
Garry Hynes, The Lonesome West
Trevor Nunn, Not About Nightingales
Ralph Burns & Douglas Besterman, Fosse
David Cullen, Swan Lake
Don Sebesky, Parade
Harold Wheeler, Little Me
[For more information about the four Special Tonys being given, please see the news story, "Hagen, Miller, Stevenson and Fool Moon To Receive Special Tonys."]
While Broadway runs helter-skelter in anticipation of this year's Tony Awards, the Tony Administration Committee is already looking towards the 1999-2000 season. As such, the Committee met May 17 and decided on two major changes:
€ The newly-refurbished Selwyn Theatre in midtown Manhattan will count as a Broadway venue.
€ All the performing categories, including Best Actor, Actress, Featured Actor and Actress, in both Plays and Musicals, will offer five nomination slots instead of the current four. The Selwyn will be the new home of the Roundabout Theatre Company, which has been evicted from its Criterion Center home, will use the Gramercy Theatre this summer, and then move to the Selwyn in 2000.
The Roundabout already received special consideration from the Tonys when Cabaret played at the Kit Kat Klub. That show proved Tony eligible though the space itself, Henry Miller's Theatre, was not. Nor was Rollin' On The T.O.B.A., a subsequent musical at that same venue, allowed to compete for a Tony this season.
Richard Greenberg's latest, Hurrah at Last, previously announced for the Laura Pels Theatre at the Criterion, will be mounted at the Gramercy this summer. David Warren will direct, with Peter Frechette in the lead. At the Gramercy in the fall, will be the American premiere of Brian's Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do!. Artistic director Todd Haimes told Playbill On-Line there was a possibility of a second fall production at another New York theatre, but nothing definite was in place.
Otherwise, Haimes and company will wait for the completion of the restored Selwyn Theatre. There, said Haimes, the company plans a three show season for the year 2000. Haimes plans to see the Roundabout through their move to the Selwyn.
As for the change from four to five slots in acting nomination categories, the change was no doubt effectuated by the number of worthy omissions in this year's slate, what with the lauded supporting cast of The Iceman Cometh getting blanked, and the perception that two of this year's Featured Actress in a Play nominees -- Elizabeth Franz and Samantha Bond -- really belong in the Best Actress category. In fact, Franz's name is over the title for Death of a Salesman, traditionally the delineation between featured and star performers.
-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz