Here are more of your responses to the 1997 Tony Awards. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From JOHN KLING:
I had the pleasure of attending the Tony Awards. The seats were fantastic, first mezzanine, second row center. It was nice meeting and talking with other Playbill On-Line Club members. You may call me a tourist, but with all the years I've been going to NYC for shows, I've never been to Radio City and I found the theatre spectacular. I thought Rosie was great! Unfortunately, her best moments were during the commercial breaks. I enjoyed the first hour highlighted by Ann Reinking's acceptance speech, Walter Bobbie, Lauren Bacall, Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli. Rosie's opening with the established B'way shows was great. The other highlights I thought were Bebe Neuwirth's acceptance speech, Lynne Thigpen's speech, Chuck Cooper's speech, "All That Jazz", "My Body", "Bon Voyage" from CANDIDE, and appearances by presenters Christine Baranski, Julie Andrews, Rachel Welch, Dixie Carter. I don't understand all the awards for TITANIC. The reviews I read ripped it up one side and down the other. I'll have to go and judge for myself. I enjoyed attending and want to know how to get on the list for tickets in 1998. Thank you.
From Jackie, Massachusetts:
Did you know there was a Tony Award received on Sunday night but not presented at the telecast? I won it -- as did just about every member of the audience! This Tony went to the audience member who was living a dream to be part of this glorious expereince. We all won, and I proudly accept it with gratitude to those who advocated the move of the ceremony to Radio City Music Hall where we all could share in the joy of the evening. My friend Jeff and I traveled from Massachusetts to meet friends from New Jersey (a friendship born though a Playbill On line connection). We dined at Joe Allen's and shared the excitement and anticipation of the night with other 'Tony-goers.' When we were leaving, a table of folks who had been to a Sunday matinee of "Dream" bid us farewell with this wish, "Good luck in your category!" We accepted their wishes and headed out. I guess they knew about the "Tony" we were about to win.
I was very disappointed with the Tony Awards. First, I hate when people in the audience have to yell out something to people on a stage, its like going to the theatre and eatting or talking while watching the show. Also, I have seen many broadway shows, this season I saw 3 of the 5 and to me Titanic was the least impressive. I hate to think as in other years that, just because a show is hyped and cost millions that it deserves to win. I found the sets cheap, we walked out of the show and wondered what the 10 million was spent on,centainly not continuity. You have people look in character and others totally opposite of there character. The music was OK, but did not produce any great feeling of emotion and I was waiting to feel the horror of the worst sea disaster in history and felt that the audience were one of the victems that night. I was sorry to realize that the Tonys are just as political as all the other awards and the bottom line is the buck and not the best. I could not believe Steel Pier, which I saw twice was shut out. well thanks for letting me vent.
Here are thre major things that I felt about this years TONY's. I hope that you will share them with fellow Playbill OnLine readers.
1) Rosie was a great host. She added some flair to the show but seemed like she was holding back---like she wasn't giving it her all. Yes, the TONY's are a more reserved and classy awards show than others, but look at how funny Nathan Lane was. I do hope that she will be able to host next year though, and with more spunk!
2) THE LIFE!! What a dissapointment. I was sooooo happy that Chuck Cooper and Lilias White won their awards, but was unahppy that's all THE LIFE took home. I thought that it was by far one of the best musicals that I have seen in a long time. It was innovative, original, racy, funny, had a great cast design team, choreographer and director. It really deserved the Best Musical TONY and was overlooked in the score and book category. Ann Reinking surely deserved the choreography award, even though McNeely's was great too.
3) Bravo to CHICAGO!! This brave and daring production got what it deserved, lots of recognition. Bebe and James deserved their awards as did everyone else from the producers to the ensemble, and everyone involved in this wonderful production. Theatre isn't about spectacle, it is about passion and talent---that is what this production proves. Can't wait to see Marilu Henner as Roxie (it should be interesting).
4) Congrats to Lynn Thigpen---the saving grace to Wasserstein's only bad play. If it wasn't for her I think I would have walked out during intermission. She was wonderful and I am thrilled that she got what she deserved.
5) The TONY's on PBS was a brilliant idea. That is really what the TONY's should be like. No commercials, lots of insight and interviews and focusing on everyone in the industry's love for theatre. This program was a great, new way to show the country how wondeful theatre is.
I think that for the most part this years TONY's did show one extremely important point. Broadway is on the uprise, it is coming back and gaining lots of momentum. I am thrilled, even though THE LIFE didn't take many awards home and other plays and musicals didn't, that there are lots of plays and musicals to choose from. I love seeing barely any dark houses---this is great---and I am happy to see Broadway theatre so full of energy and innovation. It's about time.
As a student and employee of the University of Scranton, I was thrilled to see that Walter Bobbie (a 1967 graduate of the University of Scranton) was awarded the Tony for Best Director. We are all very proud of him and appreciate his mention of Scranton, PA, in his acceptance speech. Now--if we can only get tickets to Chicago! Congratulations to all the winners. Rosie O'Donnell was terrific, and I loved seeing all those Broadway show segments. Thank you for a great evening!
Now that the Best New Musical is about a "Titanic"-sized disaster, can we expect MORE disaster-themed musicals sailing our way? How about:
-- The Hindenburg (And the guy singing the radio announcer gets the Best Featured Actor.... "Oh Noooooooooo, ladies and gentlemen, this is terrrrrrrible, terrrrrrrible.....")
-- Schindler's List, The Musical
-- Earthquake! ("I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet" "Shake, Rattle and Roll")
-- Heaven's Gate ("Ode to My Vehicle" "Up up and Away" "Get your Nikes!")
-- Hiroshima ("Look for the silver lining on that mushroom cloud")
-- Chernoybl ("Nuked at the Home I Love")
From PSUGrover (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Minus the opening, this year's Tony Awards was a big yawn. All of the candidates for best musical were mediocre or worse, and most probably won't last more than a season or two. Bebe and Rosie were the only aspects of the show that I enjoyed. Thank god RENT made a quick appearance. Oh well, there's always next year!
What a shame that Juan Darien didn't win for best muscial. Certainly it didn't stand a chance against the larger, big-budget formula musicals. Juan Darien was one of the most creative and effective performances offered this season. A fascinating mix of live action and puppet performances, amazing music and a wonderful and enlightening story to boot. Titanic offers typical formula music the usual surface-only and strident treatment of human relationships. However, like the equally dull Sunset Blvd, it offers a large set on an elevator. How could it lose?
From Phyllis Adams:
I'd say that Rosie has single-handedly saved the Tony telecast. The last few years have been terrible and last night's tandem shows were as good as possible. Amazing that PBS's hour was more interesting than CBS's two, but it probably reflects the fact that those "technical" catagories are the heart and soul of Bdwy theater. Let's hope the same format is used again next year, and for all the years to come. The ratings were improved and that has to count for something.
As for Rosie, she covered herself with glory both in the planning and the execution. Without hogging the limelight or overshadowing the awardees, she communicated her love for Bdwy and the sheer excitement and excellence found there when it shows us its best. Her glorious participation in a mixed bag of musicals said more than hours of prattle about what Bdwy is all about. Best of all, I hope everyone noticed the total lack of inane intros, self-conscious chatter and all the time-wasting segments that have been foisted on us for so long. Rosie was as good as her word, and the change of venue was a stroke of genius too. If she can keep it up, she'll earn an honorary Tony herself someday!
As for the awardees, no major surprises, and considering the somewhat lackluster candidates, I didn't care much, except for CHICAGO which clearly is the class of the 1997 season and exemplifies the sass, class, sophistication and brilliance of the classical Bdwy musical. And while I admire Cy Coleman, THE LIFE is heavy-handed, loud, hackneyed in giving us a whole conga line of good-hearted hookers and generally a show I will happily live without. TITANIC had so many problems in previews according to AOL commentors that it's hard to believe it's this fabulous smash hit all of a sudden. I love Maury Yeston but somehow I'm not eager to see a show that threatens to depress me to the depths. And Kander and Ebb seem to have come up short too; the big number last night was not particularly wonderful and I imagine it was the best thing in the show.
Lastly, I have no axe to grindfor Jekyll/Hyde, but it seems snide or worse that it failed to get a nomination for something besides best male lead. It should have taken the place of Juan Darien in various categories since the latter has long closed.
From Carol Morse Kearney, Troy, Ohio (email@example.com):
As a theatre-lover who does not often get to NY, I look forward every year to the Tony awards, and so I have been distressed lately hearing that this award show (which I consider the best of all award shows) might not be covered in the future because of lack of TV ratings. I am so pleased that Rosie O'Donnell has done so much to promote Broadway shows on her talk show, and I hope the ratings this year are high enough to impress even the most cynical TV "suits".
As to the Tony Awards themselves, the split PBS/CBS coverage worked wonderfully well! And I thought Rosie O'Donnell - God Bless Her! - did a fine job as host. She was warm and funny and obviously a fan of the theatre, and not once did she try to steal the spotlight from the winners. Let's have her back as host next year!
I was glad "Titanic" and "Chicago" won for Best Musical and Best Musical Revival. I guess my only disappointment was that "Jekyll and Hyde" was not represented. Bob Cuccioli should have won Best Actor in a Musical, in my opinion. James Naughton was certainly excellent in "Chicago", but Cuccioli's was the more demanding role.
I enjoyed Rosie O'Donnell and felt she did a great job keeping the show going. The winners were brief for the most part and the speeches were not too boring. I was surprised that Titanic won. I have no interest in seeing it and after the presentation I have even less interest. I may go see Chicago, it did seem enjoyable and I love Bebe. The greatest disappointment of the evening was Annie. The show should not of even been nominated. The presentation by Britny was so poor. The slow song with no belt did not even sound like the Tomorrow we know and love. I have seen the song sung better at the community theatre level. Surely for $75.00 or even $40.00 this is a rip off. Could all the orphans be this bad. I have to guess so since it was the only show that insisted on not displaying more of the cast. The Tony's would of been better off without Annie.
From Joseph E Sherman, Hayward, CA:
We agree with some of your viewers that Rosie seemed a little stiff in hosting the awards, but feel that she, as an ultimate fan, was a little in awe of the surroundings.
She did, however, move the show well. In my opinion she is doing more to promote Broadway and live theater than all the paid advertising put together. I'm sure people living in those media markets over the top 40 will think more about theater after seeing Broadway on Rosie.
But, as Dennis Miller might say, "It's only my opinion. I could be wrong"
From L Kersten:
While it was great to see a Tony Awards unmarred by the rushing off of the winners, overall it was a fairly desultory affair, perhaps reflecting the mediocrity (save Chicago) which was nominated...
I was, however, happy to see Lynne Thigpen & Lillias White...2 performers who brought me much joy
Other than that, "Chicago" deserved all its awards, "Titantic" was a default winner, & overall there were ffar fewer surprises than anticipated, especially as it was supposed to be "anybody's year"....
As for the show itself....I thought Rosie O'Donnell handled herself w/ class & humor...the opening number was better planned than executed...it, like all the musical numbers, was botched by some truly horrendous camera work--did the cameraman/director even watch the rehearsals??? Also, I assume that the director had bet that Debra Monk was going to win Best Featured Actress, since they flashed her picture at first when Lillias White won
While I admired the attempt to have the presenters offer a little anecdote about their early infatuation w/ the theater most came off weak--there's got to be a better solution.
Ratings are way up...they must've done something right...
From John Austin Ambrose:
With the revitalization of Broadway and all, it would be wonderful if there was an award ceremony voted upon by the entire viewing public. It is sad to see a very select excentric group, choose what will PROBABLY last on Broadway. We all know that being shut out at the Tony awards can be the demise of a wonderful production, which may be much more enjoyed by the average American audience member, than a winning or even nominated show. Of course to people like Disney, not even the Tony Awards can ruin success. Please give me your opinion (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now that I have gotten the soap off of my chest, I want to thank Playbill On-Line for offering members the wonderful seats to the Tonys. It was one of the best memories of my 20 year life. The seats where truely incredible. I never thought a little nobody like me from Alabama could ever make it to the Tonys.
Did anyone notice Rosie said "sh?t" during the Grease number. I guess that is where the F@#k joke came from. For those that saw it on TV, you missed it. I think some of the best parts of the Tonys weren't even on the telecast.
By the way for anyone coming to Alabama between June 26-29, I am producing the Musical "Fame" at the Zodiac Theatre in Florence, AL. It is the inaguaral production for NEW DIRECTIONS THEATRE GROUP. Sorry, just had to take advantage of the free publicity.
From Adam Cooper:
I was shocked when Jekyll & Hyde and Linda Eder weren't nominated for Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical, respectively. But when Robert Cucciolli didn't win Best Actor in a Musical, I was fuming. He has not only the best voice on Bway, but the best I've ever heard. He deserved to win over anyone else there. I was surprised that Sam Harris didn't win, but I'm still mad over Cucciolli. Jekyll and Hyde should have at least won best lighting, because the lighting in that show was amazing. To have it win nothing was a complete shock.
Michael David unwisely used some of his limited acceptance speech time to knock the critics. In truth, he only has his production company to blame for much of the bad press.
I had the good fortune of seeing "Titanic" a month after its official opening. The kinks were worked out and I saw a lovely show with an incredible cast. However, I've read the horror stories from theatre fans about the first previews not even having the orchestra, and about the countless mechanical problems. It is clear "Titanic" was not ready (there was no out-of-town tryout, presumably because of the enormity of the production) and the play was presented to the public too early--obviously to beat the Tony deadline. The move may have worked in the long run- business will pick up after the award and performance at the Tonys--but I feel bad for all those people who forked over $40-$75 in March and April for an unfinished work. This is another reason why full-priced previews should be outlawed.
If Mr. David wants to be fan-friendly, he should have his Dodger staff try to contact (by looking at the charge receipts) as many people as they can who saw the show early on. He can thank them for their support of the theatre by giving them a chance to see the polished "Titanic" from good seats at half-price. In addition, he should invite the critics again. On June 2, "Titanic" is a wonderful piece of theatre. That was far from the case on April 2.
I love Mr. David's show and almost everything Dodger Productions has brought to Broadway, but instead of ripping the critics, he should have used his moment in the sun to thank the patrons.
From Drayton Hiers:
How wonderful that the best musical of 1997 actually won the Tony! Far too often, the best musical has had to stand back and watch an inferior piece win. The only recent exception was Passion, and its biggest competition was...well, it really didn't have any.
To see Maury Yeston's beuatiful score be honored with a Tony was a treat. In a season crowded with so many mediocre scores, Yeston managed to craft one of the best scores this decade, a marvelous example of a master composer at work.
I only hope that Titanic, the only show this year to actually try and push the boundaries of theatre, will be able to go on and have a strong run on Broadway.
By the way, what was up with the number from The Life? Are they trying to close the show?
From Gary in San Jose:
I found it very curious that most of the awards in the musical category were won by "Chicago", which is a revival -- not a new musical. That is not to say that it isn't a good musical, but I feel shows like "Jekyll and Hyde", "The Life", and "Steel Pier" did not have a good chance in the major categories. I feel that the revivals should not be nominated in the same as the new musicals.
Congratulations to Lynne Thigpen for her well-deserved Tony Award! Her performance was truly a pleasure to watch, making me laugh, cry and thoroughly enjoy the play. I regret that "An American Daughter" was not nominated, as I thought the play was brilliant and the entire cast did a superb job - another triumph for Wendy Wasserstein - Tony or not.
As for best musical, I think that The Life was clearly the winner, and was surprised and disappointed that Titanic won instead. However, I was delighted that Chicago won for best revival - what is the name of that gorgeous man in the vest and no shirt? I'm grabbing my Playbill to find out... ;-> Cheers!
Well, now that Titanic won this year, what can we expect next year, a musical version of Schindler's List? I just can't believe that show won all those awards but after reading today's newspapers and seeing the producers gave boat trips to the Tony voters....hmmmm....well, guess that's show biz. As far as Rosie, let's hope next year she and Rob Lowe with Snow White can do another brilliant songfest. She was ok except for that opening schlock. The PBS portion was excellent and maybe that is just where the Tony's belong. It was entertaining, informative and quite interesting.
James Naughton, best actor? Come on. Lynne Thigpen, at last some recognition for great talent as well as Bebe Neuwirth. Well, after this year's show, the only place to go is up!!!