Playbill On-Line Readers Respond to 2000 Tony Awards

Tony Awards   Playbill On-Line Readers Respond to 2000 Tony Awards Disappointed, thrilled, bored or excited, the readers of Playbill On-Line rarely minced words when responding to our query, "What did you think of the Tony Awards?"

Disappointed, thrilled, bored or excited, the readers of Playbill On-Line rarely minced words when responding to our query, "What did you think of the Tony Awards?"

We asked for your views of the award winners and the ceremony and broadcast, presented June 4 at Radio City Music Hall and seen on PBS (8-9 PM, ET) and CBS (9-11 PM, ET). Rosie O'Donnell hosted the evening, with "special guest" Nathan Lane riding shotgun.

Here is a sampling of thoughts from more than 150 e-mails that came in June 5-6. Responses have been edited for clarity.

• "Watching the pathetic nominees for best musical last night made me fondly and sadly reminisce about 1998 when onstage at the Tonys we were dazzled by the opening numbers from Lion King and Ragtime, two brilliant musicals with singers singing songs (a concept that is no longer part of Broadway musical theatre)! A suggestion to Tony 2000 producers: replace the banter between Nathan and Rosie with a scene from Aida -- it sure would have been great to see Tony winner Heather Headley and hear the Tony winning score, even though the musical wasn't nominated for best musical."

• "A dull opening number set the tone for a dull show." • "I am an avid Tonys watcher -- taping every year's broadcast. The opening number was weak and awkward. The '98 Tonys with the Divas Introduction was the best Tonys intro I had ever seen. I was expecting Rosie to top it -- but she didn't even come close. This year's intro laid a huge egg. It was just not entertaining."

• "I was particularly disappointed this year because of an apparent lack of enthusiasm inherent in the broadcast. Rosie actually seemed bored this year -- without energy, just going through the motions, possibly due to the presence of Nathan Lane. Rosie performs better alone -- when she's a bit uptight and nervous she does her best work. "

• "I also would have liked to have heard those awarded 'special awards': Eileen Heckart and [T. Edward] Hambleton and Sylvia [Herscher], the great theatre agent..."

• "Bring back Angela Lansbury!"

• "Rosie O'Donnell doesn't have the class, style or Broadway experience to host this show. Nathan Lane tried, but didn't succeed in saving the show. Opening number was terrible." • " Looks like we're trying to get the TV crowd to love live theatre by bringing casts of favorite TV shows to try and show their stage talent. Forget that idea. Would like more memories of Tony's past."

• "The 2000 Tony Awards were a huge disappointment. It was two hours of half-assed hosting by Rosie O. and Nathan L. The ceremony itself alternated between boring and embarrassing. The two truly disgusting items of the evening were Aida winning for best original score and Contact winning for best `musical.' Those who are responsible should be ashamed."

• "With so many bad decisions made by the Tony voters last night, it's hard to focus on just one, but my biggest gripe would have to be with Michael John LaChiusa's loss in the Best Score category. I was sure that this year, having given us not one but two beautiful and fascinating new scores, Mr. LaChiusa would get his due. It was painful seeing his Wild Party (my pick for Best Score) lose to a collection of pop songs. It's always sad to see outstanding work go unrecognized, but the larger implication seems to be that there's no room for real theatre music in the theatre. It's depressing for the would-be Broadway composers out there, and it's depressing for the fans. I just don't get it."

• "I personally enjoyed every minute of the show, but of course I am a Broadway Fan. I was just disappointed that Aida was not nominated as best musical, I still don't understand how the nominations are selected..."

• "That opening number [was] LAME LAME LAME. Watching mediocre television stars sing out of key is not going to remind anyone of the glory that is Broadway..."

• "With such a pairing as Rosie O'Donnell and Nathan Lane, it should have been Dynamite! But instead the audience was left with stale humor and forced jokes, not to mention how obvious the teleprompter was."

• "The opening number should sell the entire evening and keep people watching, not make them ask, 'What does this have to do with the nominated shows?'"

• "Good idea for opening number, but what key was that in?! Certainly an uncomfortable one for Jesse L. Martin and Jane Krakowski."

• "Another surprise was the fact The Wild Party did not receive anything. This dark and nightmarish musical deserved [the] lighting [award] with the beautiful shadows it cast."

• "These Tony Awards shows no longer exude New York theatrical show business excitement and glamour. Because of its size, Radio City Music Hall is a horrible venue for any show. Maybe next year get Michael Blakemore to direct the Tony Award show."

• "What a night! Rosie and Nathan were hits, in my opinion. Their quick humor made me look forward to the next time they were on stage together, and helped keep the show rolling."

• "Thrilled that the snubbed Aida walked away with as many awards as the predicted 'big winner' of the night, Contact."

• "The show moved along at a nice clip, but the PBS hour was far more interesting than the CBS portion of the show, which pandered horribly to the mass television audience with the assumption that theatre should be redeemed by a few talented actors who once were on Broadway and now have supporting roles on hit television shows. How insulting! How absurd! This need for validation continued with the choices of presenters: Susan Lucci, Sharon Lawrence, Kathie Lee Gifford, and several other actors who only replaced the original stars of each of their respective shows."

• "The cast of Saturday Night Fever could've livened this year's Tonys up!!!"

• "Plays got treated shabbily again too. Would it be too hard to show a few moments from each of the plays? I think not. And to think that plays get shortchanged for revivals that get automatic nominations due to the lack of possible nominees."

• "With all the diversity in casting on Broadway lately, it's amazing to see how [few] ethnicities were represented at the awards. No doubt, theatre is much better at the spreading of parts among the different ethnic background than the world of film is. However, a genre that has embraced its feminine counterpart, not to mention its gay and lesbian members, has seemed to shun its nonwhite segment. (With the exception of a few token African-Americans.)"

• "Theatre people need to have some pride. Television looks to theatre, not the other way around, and it breaks my heart to see the amazing talent in our theatre act like the boob tube is the real future that everyone is vying for."

• "In a word? Bo-o-o-o-o-o-ring."

• "Especially considering she co-produced, Rosie O'Donnell -- and Nathan Lane -- might have moved around the stage once in a while! Huge stage, and they stayed in one tiny prescribed part; why?"

• "Why were there no tributes or mentions to the passing of Alexander Cohen and David Merrick?"

• "When will they give the show the class and respect it deserves? Why wasn't Dame Judi Dench there? Couldn't they find one theatre personality to host the show and give it the stature it merits?"

• "The opening number was a disgrace !! I thought the 1999 show was bad...this was worse!!!"

• "The best thing about this amazingly lackluster program was the always-entertaining presence of Nathan Lane."

• " Why the emphasis on current TV personalities? Was I mistakenly watching the Emmys? The producers should keep the emphasis where it belongs -- squarely on the Great White Way..."

• "The production shown on PBS was much more enjoyable than the CBS version..."

• "I just don't understand the nominations this year. I can't be forced to believe that Contact and Swing are musicals. Yes, I will buy that we should broaden our horizons and perhaps definitions of musical theatre. However, the last time I checked, 'telling a story through dance' was called ballet."

• "The acceptance speeches were definitely heartwarming and moving."

• "Was it just me or were all the presenters BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS? Even one of my all time favorites, Carol Burnett, seemed like she didn't want to be there (probably because her show was rather snubbed)."

• "To make the show fun and watchable, why didn't the producers cast Nathan Lane and Dame Edna as co-hosts?"

• "This year's Tony broadcast was one of the best in recent years. Rosie and Nathan were hysterical . . . they made a great team. The musical numbers were fantastic, and really showed the variety of shows represented on Broadway right now..."

• "I thought the awards show was the best in many, many years...possibly the best in a decade or two. It zipped like a jack rabbit on speed and having it back in Radio City was the smartest move of all. As for the ratings....well, golly....only an idiot would take them seriously. If you pitted the Oscars against 'Millionaire' and basketball, it doesn't take much to figure that the Oscars would have taken a nosedive to the bottom of the sea also."

• "Please....do NOT move the show back to a Broadway theatre. It belongs in Radio City. The shows broadcast from the theaters were too cramped and claustrophobic. Radio City is the only venue where the stage LOOKS like what people in the hinterlands THINK a Broadway stage should be."

• "The Tonys are a Broadway celebration and should be telecast from a Broadway house. The excitement and sense of intimacy which makes the theatre special and is the essence of theatre is completely lost in a barn like Radio City."

• "The opening number was lifeless and a big downer. As much as I love the three performers who worked with Rosie during the number, the opening as a whole was just plain bad. On the biggest night of Broadway, I don't want to be reminded that the best performers are sucked into the money-careers that television offers."

• "I hope next year's show will be better."

Compiled by Kenneth Jones