The 1997 Tony Awards are now history, with Titanic and The Last Night of Ballyhoo going down in history as Best Musical and Best Play, respectively.
Please share your reactions to the awards. Did they go as you expected. Were you shocked, thrilled, disappointed, hopeful?
Send your reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses will be posted as they come in.
And special thanks to the many Playbill On-Line users who wrote with positive comments on the Playbill On-Line Tony Night Chat. It was our pleasure to share this event with theatre fans everywhere!
From Dan Javinsky (email@example.com), Northridge CA:
Long Live the Titanic! I am truly ecstatic that "Titanic" won for best musical. I practically lost my voice by cheering so much for this great production. I hope that this musical will set sail to CALIFORNIA in the near future. We can all look forward to colliding with destiny when a silver screen version of Titanic comes to movies theatres on December 19 (originally scheduled for a summer release).
I was privileged to have the opportunity to see the pre-Broadway tour of "Jekyll and Hyde" in August of 1995 in Orange County, California. I was disappointed that the show didn't receive any recognition. My hat is off to Robert Cuccioli who had my vote.
Kudos to Rosie for being an excellent host. And, congrats to Lord Andy for nearing the record-breaker for the longest running Broadway show in history ("Cats").
I've seen many, many musicals in my 22 years. And, the musical that defines perfection through its music, scenery, costumes, lighting, story, and emotions is "Les Miserables." Long live "Les Miz"; The spirit continues...
From Ryan A. Don:
I cant believe titanic was even nominated 5 times, let alone won all 5 including best musical....it was THE WORST production I have ever seen.
The 1997 Tony Award show was one of the best.
The major reasons are Rosie O'Donnell and the hour on PBS.
The first hour really flew by!
It looks like the consensus of experts was pretty much on target in all of the categories.
Congrats to all those involved with "TITANIC". A worthy winner well staged and produced dealing with a challenging and demanding subject. From RichardMK:
I was thrilled with the PBS hour. Very interesting and fun. Although Rosie has done wonderful things to assist the public's awareness of Broadway, I think her stint on the CBS presentation was less-than-great. She kept stepping on the applause and we couldn't hear her first sentence. I am glad that the voters gave "Titantic" the awards that they did. To me, it was the clear "best" amongst a pale pack of musicals. Ann Reinking's acceptance speech was clearly heart-felt. Hooray for her!
From George A. Stephanides:
I did not expect TITANIC to win the TONY for best musical.
I am also disapointed that STEEL PIER- an excellent production- did not win any TONY.
DANIEL McDONALD should have won the TONY for best actor in a musical category.
My mouth literaly dropped open when Titanic was announced as best musical. i had heard so many bad things about it . . .
From Scott Sears:
I realize the Tony voters don't like Frank Wildhorn and Jekyll & Hyde, but to not award Robert Cuccioli the best actor in a musical award was criminal. Has there been a more challenging, physical or emotional part in recent history than the dual roles of Jekyll & Hyde? Mr. Cuccioli's performance was exceptional. All due respect to Mr. Naughton, his part (not performance) was hardly worthy of the award. Cheers for Rosie and the good job she did. Now if we could just change the show and let either the people or the performers vote. Maybe we would eliminate all of the "establishment" voting that continues year after year...
From Patti Murphy:
I am thrilled for "Titanic" and for "Chicago". Those awards were well deserved. I am looking forward to returning to NYC and seeing them again!!
Thanks again for a super night of Broadway at its best!!!
From Giovanna Farrugia Forres:
I am so thrilled that Janet McTeer has won this award. I have seen the production no less that 18 times. 16 in the West End and twice on Broadway! Yes I actually flew all the way across the Atlantic to see it again! Anyone who has seen the performance will know why. It is spellbinding. Quite the best performance I have ever seen! People tenf to think that I am more than a bit eccentric when I tell them how many times I have seen it and then when they come to a performance with me they quite understand!
I was surprised, but most pleasantly so, at how the awards went. And, as far as the show itself went, I truly enjoyed it! Most years I would tune in an hope that I'd see a nice production number before the show put me to sleep. Not so this year. Rosie O'Donnell was good -- a nice opening and so good quips, but she clearly let the spotlight shine on the shows and the actors.
From Sylvia Stoddard:
Sail on, TITANIC! Congratulations to the unrecognized and unawarded cast of the Best Musical for helping their producers win the award. The gestation period was painful, but the endless fine-tuning and rehearsals were worth it. They did the impossible--they raised the Titanic. The telecast will never be what anyone who truly loves theatre would want and that isn't its purpose anyway. It is to introduce these shows to America, where--when they appear in six months or a year on stages across the country--they will be anticipated and somewhat familiar. In this, the combo PBS-CBS broadcasts succeeded well. Instead of stupid production numbers, they performed shows--real shows. Excellent choice. And blessings to Rosie O'D, who gave Broadway such superb coverage in past weeks. I hope the ratings went through the roof.
I thought this year's Tony Awards ceremony was, well, pretty uneventful. Rosie was good, but not spectacular. The winners, with maybe a couple of exceptions, weren't surprising. Should Titanic have won? You could ask yourself the same question about more than a few previous winners. The Tony's, just like the Oscars and the Grammys,are not about merit. They are about entertainment. We watch because it's fun to root for people and I have never based my opinion of a show's worth or a person's talent solely on whether or not they have won an award. However, my only gripe is when people are excluded from the process entirely. Case in point is Linda Eder for Jekyll and Hyde. I am, however, sure that Linda will have her day, with or without a Tony.
Best Tony awards presentation in years. I haven't been this excited about an awards program in a long time. The split PBS/CBS broadcast worked out really well, in my opinion. I hope they continue this practice in the future. Ironically, the musical awards were the least interesting to me as none of the shows nominated left any real impression on me, but I suspect that they are the major draw for most viewers. The presenters' theater anecdotes were mostly kind of contrived and never segued logically into the awards that were presented, although I enjoyed Swoosie Kurtz' "Dame Swoosie Kurtz" line.
From the cast of "An Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera in Las Vegas:
What was that Roseanne was wearing?? The dress was bad enough but how about those shoes-- we love Roseanne but wish she would have looked better. Rosie O'Donnell was excellent! We think she should host for at least the next couple of years. Hurray for Chicago!!! We watched it backstage during our show.
From D. Ahlers:
I am so glad Titanic won best musical. I was rooting for it all night, but I figured The Life would beat it out. I was shocked that Steel Pier didn't win any awards. It tied the record for most non-wins. (the original Chicago holds it)
With the way Brittny Kissinger sang "Tommorow," I can see why Annie got such BAD reviews.
I was glad to see Bernadette Peters again. The last time I saw her peform was in Into The Woods.
From Ed Feldman, Princeton, NJ:
Having the opportunity to actually be an audience member at this years Tonys was great. There was definitely an energy there. The audience reaction was tremendous. This energy is something that can't be experienced in front of a tv. You have to be there. I am thrilled that this year theater goers had the chance to attend. It is about time.
While most of the dialogue was scripted due to time constraints, Rosie was hysterical during commercial breaks. I am thrilled beyond words that Titanic won. I loved the show. Everyone thought how could they make a show about a ship sinking and the tragedy that it was. They did a fine, tactful job. The music was splendid and the character development finely done so you really felt for the characters. It was a daring show to put on and the producers pulled it off - Congratulations.
I was very happy to see Bebe and Ann get awards. They are both deserving of it. I would have liked to see Robert Cuccioli win.
Overall I thought the night was great. Everyone is going to have their own opinions of how good or bad a show is and despite the Tony's, you are just going to have to judge for yourself.
From Stewart Armstrong, Concord NH:
Bravo, Titanic!! My daughters and I were thrilled to see Titanic take Best Musical last night! My NY daughter called to say that she felt like a part of history--we were there to see the Titanic in previews. We are glad that the technical problems got fixed, and that the show was able to survive the nasty critics. We were once afraid that it would not even open. Now, we hope for a nice long run and a national tour. We anxiously await the CD. We'd also like some souvenirs--none were available at the previews. Can we get them? I thought the cast did a great job last night -far more energy and enthusiasm than we saw in previews. Again, Bravo to the wonderful, hard-working cast and crew of Titanic!
From Thom R Watson:
How in the world could a sinking ship win over the outstanding musical, THE LIFE?! And as far as music & lyrics, CY COLEMAN's show was clearly the winner in my Tony awards. What a disappointment. It looks to me like the producers who hyped their show the most amongst the voters got the big payoff. The Tonys sure don't represent most of the real talent on Broadway.
I was surprised and shocked at the winners of some catagories last night. "Titanic", really, over "Steel Pier". "Steel Pier" is a true Broadway musical while "Titanic" is a steril operetta. Maury Yeston best orginal score. All the music sounded the same with exception of "Ship of Dreams" at the beginning. Kander & Ebb should have won. James Naughton would have been the featured actor group. He wasnt on the stage all that long. Jim Dale who made "Candide" come alive was far superior. Daniel McDonald and Bob Cuccioli were much better. Bebe Neuwirth deserved the Tony but I would have loved to have seen Karen Ziemba win the award. As for the two featured actors, Chuck Cooper and Lillias White, yes they would great in "The Life" even though I would have like to have seen Andrea Martin win. Lynne Thigpen was the shinning light and the only good actress in "American Daughter" Yes to her winning. Best play should have been "Young Man from Atlanta" Now I wonder what happens to "Steel Pier", I hope it runs for along time. Broadway needs a show like that.
The League, once again, managed to pull off the best televised awards show in America. That's a given. Oddly though, the one hour "Launching the Tony's" on PBS, without the production numbers and presenting what the CBS top brass think are the "less interesting" technical awards, seemed to have more of a focus and spoke directly to what Broadway Theatre is all about. The PBS documentary approach to the broadcast, in my opinion, goes farther towards educating a potential young audience about the excitement of live theatre than any number of glitzy production numbers ever could.
The CBS portion of the broadcast though, was a model of combining entertainment with the recognition that Broadway professionals so richly deserve. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the creative and technical people who put the whole thing together. (And in exactly two hours too!)
I hope this happy combination of PBS/CBS will continue for many years. This year they have given us the best Tony's ever.
From Christopher P. Nicholson:
I enjoyed watching this year's Tony Awards on television more than any in recent memory. A lot of this had to do with the extra hour on PBS, not that there was anything exceptional during that first hour, but it made the overall presentation seem much more relaxed when everybody wasn't racing to cram everything into a one or two hour box. Rosie was a tremendous addition. With just the right amount of self-deprecation, she was hardly full of herself, seemed to be having the time of her life and most importantly, sent the message that, yes, live theater is fun. Two minor criticisms: 1) I would have liked to have seen more clips from the straight plays and 2) The "I remember my first Broadway Show" homilies got real tired, real fast. But all in all, it was a strong evening, opened up its appeal to a broader audience than before, and bodes well for the future.
The Tony Committee has done it again. I thought after their choice in nominations this year, we'd be spared their lack of competence. However, with the Best New Musical being awarded to "Titanic", their choice has led to many glaring questions regarding the validity of this awards ceremony overall. This is not to say that the committee did not do a good job with their selections in the majority of the other awards, but their choice in "Titanic" was enough to cancel out the rest and they have, once again, made complete fools of themselves.
How can a musical that has no nominations for its cast and no nomination for its director walk out with the Best Musical award? It should take excellence in all categories to achieve Best Musical status. Awards for book, score and orchestrations are not enough to make the perfect musical. And I don't care what anyone says, those sloppy sets are not worthy of the Tony honor. If the music is the only element to offer the status of "best", then "Big" should really have gotten a Best Musical nomination last year - as "Big" is has a terrific score. "The Life" garnered nominations across the board and deserved the majority of them as it remains the most entertaining show on Broadway.
People in the theatre community stand by each year and watch this outdated group of people determine what we should appreciate and what we shouldn't. Perhaps "The Life" was a bit too raunchy, racy and over-the-top for some, but that should not disqualify it from being a damn good show. After the results of this year and last year, I agree with Jack O'Brien who said that "We Americans have an appalling lack of self-esteem, so if a work doesn't have the sanction of a Pulitzer or Tony, then it must not be very good". Following his lead, don't let this silly, pretentious ceremony fool you. I suggest all that who saw the Tony's go spend $75 on "Titanic", see the first scene in all its splendor (the one shown on the Tony's - the only good part of the show!) then watch it sink or go spend $75 and see "The Life" and get a full 2 hours of pure entertainment and fun.
From Andrea Le Suer:
For the first time ever, I went to bed before the Tony show was over. Practically every category seemed to be a foregone conclusion, so there wasn't a whole lot of excitement. The seattle area PBS station didn't show the PBS portion of the telecast so all we were left with was the dull CBS version. Glad to see Lillias White, Lynne Thigpen & Chuck Cooper win...dying to see Janet McTeer's performance too. Susan Sarandon was so sexy & glamourous--when will she ever come back to the stage? Rosie was cool as always....bye!
From Brad Baker:
Some unstructured ramblings regarding the TONYS...
a.) Oh, no! Black artists won awards?! Is this an error? Ooops, sorry, I just realized this is the TONYS, not the OsKKKars... How wonderful it was to see the extraordinary work of our black, gay, and Asian artists being rewarded. I love the theatre community!
b.) Praise PBS for broadcasting the best part of the ceremony.
c.) Explain to me again why Rip Torn, Joel Grey, Frank Langella and that chick from JEKYLL/HYDE were not even nominated...?
d.) Praise the Theatre Wing for FINALLY recognizing orchestrators. We couldn't have had a better first-time winner than Jonathan Tunick!
e.) I got kinda scared when I realized that there were TWO former Star Search winners in highlighted positions at the TONYS (Rosie O'Donnell and Sam Harris). Who knew that schlock TV program would have such an impact on the contemporary American theatre?
f.) I couldn't get to sleep for wondering just WHAT was Jimmy Smits' seminal theatre-going experience. In case anyone cares... mine was the brilliant/visionary FOLLIES.
From Marc Roth:
Great thanks to PBS for carrying the first hour. The show was very well paced. I'm glad that no one was drowned out by music because thier "thank yous" went on too long. Still think that JEKYLL AND HYDE should have been nominated, but nobody asked me.