The nominations for the 1997 Tony Awards were announced May 5 (see separate story in Theatre News).
Please share your reactions. How do the noms compare with previous years'? Any of your favorites overlooked?
Please post your answers to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at email@example.com. Answers will be posted as they come in. Please include your town and state, and let us know if we can post your e mail address, so you can receive responses.
Here are the responses so far. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write:
From Barry24 (Barry24@AOL.COM):
I can't believe that a show with the fabulous music and lyrics of Jekyll and Hyde and the most beautiful voice on broadway in Linda Eder, was not nominated for a Tony! It is a travesty! The music from this show will survive way beyond any of the others nominated.
From Ellen Jacobs, NYC:
I found the TONY award nominations disappointing particularly in the drama category. I thought Wendy Wasserstein's "An American Daughter," an engaging and passionate voice of contemporary life today. The performance of lead actress, Kate Nelligan simply superb; when I left the theatre I thought Kate Nelligan and Lynne Thigpen gave seamless performances in a dramatic/comedic genre. The absence of Wasserstein and Nelligan from TONY consideration and similar neglect of Stockard Channing, or Linda Eder in the musical category and the general snubbing of Jekyll & Hyde, suggests that like many critics, those who nominate associate the actor w the play and if they are snubbing one, they tend to 'overlook' the other.
I think the TONYS, though recognizing other excellent performers and performances, is organized as a commercial cabal for whomever is considered 'in' by consensus that year. Critics didn't appreciate Wasserstein's biting critique of the capricious working of power in Washington, D.C.; the same caprice applies to those 'handling' award nominations.
From OMGK (OMGK@msn.com):
I just returned from a 4 night stay in NY and saw 4 musicals including 3 of the nominated (one of the 2 best, J&H, was the other). The Life (seen Sunday night) is the best. It was a return to musical theatre that I loved for so many years, pure original, and superb cast. Titanic had one small breakdown (forgivable) and I shared the full house enthusiasm for its brilliance. Steel Pier was okay, but didn't come close to J&H; the first act was eventually boring. Other major omissions? Joel Grey as supporting, Linda Eder as best actress, both of which should have been automatic.And the omission of best score for J&H makes me wonder if the NY Times critic (for lack of a better description) rules the Tony nominations. Thanks for the chance to say something about the musical theatre I've loved for more years than I want to admit to.
From Laurie, New York:
Hi my name is Laurie and I am from New York. I was very disappointed in the tony nomination choices. I thought Linda Eder and Anne Reinking both deserved BEST ACTRESS nominations. I saw both Jekyll and Hyde and Chicago. Linda Eder has a most beautiful voice and she played the part of Lucy very well. Anne Reinking was absolutely fabulous. Her dancing was still incredible and she just glowed up on that stage. I could tell that both of those actress's were working really hard up on stage and they definitely deserved nominations, if not the actual tony award itself.
I have seen Jekyll and Hyde three times and every time I enjoy it more and more. The music is haunting and gives the audience goosebumps. THEN WHY WAS IT NOT NOMINATED FOR A TONY FOR BEST MUSICAL??? Linda Eder is a talented you ng woman who received no nomination either. She spent almost 10 yrs of her life working for this role and she will not win a Tony for it. What is wrong with this????
Thank God the Tony nominating committee had the good sense to omit Linda Eder! In a business where talented actresses may never get a decent break, it seems criminal that someone like Eder does. In any event, now that she's not nominated, perhaps she'll go back to Star Search where she belongs.
I used to think Steel Pier would win, but now.... hmmm. Overall pleased with the nominations. Should be an exciting newsy Tony season.
From DAVEYLOW (DAVEYLOW@aol.com) New York, NY:
I was surprised that Frank Langella was overlooked once again (he should have been nominated last year for The Father). I also wonder why Robert Falls or Ron Lagomarsino were not nominated for Best Director of a Play instead of Charles Nelson Reilly.
I was happy the Tony committee remembered Skylight and the lead actors. That is my personal choice for Best Play, with The Young Man from Atlanta a close second. I do think Sarah Jessica Parker deserved a nomination despite what the critics thought. I can't say anything about Best Musical until I see Steel Pier this week and Titanic next week. Alison Janney deserved a supporting actress nomination for Present Laughter. Also there were many good featured performances in Dream, but I guess that show is one of the most disliked this season.
I know everyone loves Janet McTeer but I would give the Tony Best Actress award to Shirley Knight or Lia Williams. This is one year that some categories could have easily had five nominations. Best Actor in a play is the toughest category--maybe there will be a tie this year. Is Owen Teale's really a supporting actor performance? He has such a showy role in A Doll's House that he may win. I was also happy the Tonys nominated William Biff McGuire in The Young Man from Atlanta--not a big role but a truly fine performance.
Each year I cannot gripe about the nominations because I never see enough of the shows to be able to make any determinations. This year however is different, and I am very upset by the clear absence of PLAY ON in the nomination pool. THE LIFE is clearly the strongest show I saw this season, but PLAY ON! is definitely the greatest delight. Many of the performances in PLAY ON! were stronger than some nominated-- not to mention any names. Furthermore I know this show doesn't have the same substance of the other shows, but I find that that is what doesn't allow PLAY ON! to weigh down and sink like others. What makes a musical great? -- Is the way I feel so good after the show!! I never agreed in the past with the actual TONY winners, but this year I do hope that THE LIFE sweeps, and that PLAY ON plays on for a long while.
Biggest disappointment of this year's Tony nominations was the failure to recognize the incredible performance of Frank Langella in PRESENT LAUGHTER. Maybe it's true critics find it difficult to recognize the merits of a comedic performance. Langella was phenomenal in the role! One season, he brings Strindberg (THE FATHER) to life; the next, Noel Coward. What range! Very disappointed. Can't understand the praise for David Hare's SKYLIGHT or Horton Foote's THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA. Left at intermission of the former and have yet to speak with anyone (like me) who understood the hoopla (let alone the play) for the later.
From Alan Forsyth:
Kate Nelligan? - Stockard Channing?
An American Daughter?
Where are these nominees?
What were they thinking!
I am simply disgusted by the omission of Jekyll and Hyde. No one will ever call it a classic musical in Broadway history, but to overlook the music (some of it more beautiful than anything else currently playing on Bway), and especially Ms. Eder and Ms. Noll. Try and find another moment on Broadway right now that surpasses the heartfelt rendering of "In His Eyes" by both of those dynamic women!!! I am not a Jeckie, nor do I have any money invested in the show. But to overlook this show and replace it with a puppet show just shows how old and bitter the Tony nominating committee is. I recently saw many shows in New York and [an] actor . . . who is on the Tony nominating committee was sitting behind me in two of them. He could not hear the show nor could he stay awake, and this is someone who is up to the task of nominating Tonys? Can we attempt some folks on the committee who aren't collecting Social Security?
From Michael Parker (ParkXPlor@aol.com) Morris Plains, NJ:
All I can say regarding the nominations: The snub of Jekyll & Hyde was a joke. Co star Christiane Noll was amazing and deserves a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in this overlooked production. I saw the show once on tour, and twice on Broadway. I was very disappointed with Juan Darien, however, the Nominating committee needed to show its "class" and select something from Lincoln Center.
I think it would also be a good idea to have a Tony Award for Best Replacement. How about Dixie Carter in Master Class; Florence Lacey (who was unceremoniously dumped from) Les Miz; or Elaine Paige in Sunset; Davis Gaines in Phantom. Just an idea...
From Tom Mull:
I don't know if this is a reaction to the nominations (not thrilling, but consider the season) or the "Egregiously Overlooked" article you guys also ran. Every year it seems like we get a list of those who were "overlooked"--as if the big names and big shows are SUPPOSED to be nominated. I'm sure if we all sat down and went through the Playbills for this season, we'd find a lot more people who weren't nominated than who were. When you consider the percentage of possible nominations versus possible nominees for the season, you realize that very FEW people GET nominated--so why should those nominations always go to names which don't necessarily need help being recognized. So what if JEKYLL AND HYDE didn't get nominated. If it were such a fabulous show, wouldn't it have had a lot less trouble getting produced in the first place. Why should Stockard Channing get nominated every time she's on stage? This is the one time of the year Playbill On Line becomes more gossip centered than informative. Quit trying to stir up trouble, you guys--You're better than that! An article about who was eligible and who was nominated is one thing--this is too much!
From Mike (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Will anyone ever be completely happy with the nominations? As my dear, sweet, little old grandmother used to say -- when she got too drunk and would fall off the back porch -- "That's what makes a horse race!" I'm just glad to see the categories open up to include things like BEST ORCHESTRATIONS. All nominated -- Michael Gibson, Luther Henderson, Don Sebesky/Harold Wheeler, and THE GREAT JONATHAN TUNICK -- are well deserving of the award. (How difficult would it be to arrange a 4-way tie?)
From Joe Gramm (Grammjoe@aol.com):
It was a tough year with a lot of almost terrific shows. I'm glad to see that the most "almost terrific show" also got the most nominations. THE LIFE reminded me again what great musicals are all about. Lillias White is the standout performance of the year. She (with great music and lyrics by Coleman and Gasman) made "The Oldest Profession" one of those thrilling moments in theatre that keep us all coming back. Too bad it doesn't happen more often, but when it does there is nothing like it. I was glad also to see Joey McNeely get his choreography nomination. He got some flack in reviews because critics thought his work too "Fosse-like". Am I crazy or was that his intention in THE LIFE? I thought it was a great tribute to the Fosse style. Congratulations to all the nominees.
I think the Tony nominators did a much better job than last year. I'm not happy about Frank Langella and Rip Torn not getting nominations. However, this was a result of a great number of terrific Best Actor performances this year, not the Tony voter's fault.
I haven't seen Jekyll & Hyde, but I will say that Juan Darien was well deserving of its nomination. It was a strikingly original show that used puppets, live actors, and extraordinary imagery to tell an ambiguous fable about a jaguar who becomes a small boy. It had no dialogue and its story was told completely visually. It was the sort of show that could only have been put on by a non-profit theater like Lincoln Center. Not only shows that are designed to be commercial blockbusters should be deemed worthy of awards. The Tony awards should also be about excellence, a quality Juan Darien had in abundance.
I am delighted that the Tony committee recognized the quality of the Titanic score. I believe that five or 10 years from now, it will be performed by opera and theatre companies, and its score will be treasured. "There She Is" is the single most thrilling new song heard on a Broadway stage this season. I only wish every Tony voter could get a copy of the cast album before they vote!
From Bruce Levy, Forest Hills NY:
I can't really complain with most of the nominations this year. In the musical category, we really have a mediocre lot at best.
Unlike last year, this year is the year of the commercial musical, with the exception of Juan Darien. None of the commercial shows is truly wonderful or even great. I can't really get excited about any of them, but Jekyll and Hyde deserved what it got and no more.
The strangest omission to me is that TITANIC was not nominated for costumes and that CHICAGO was. I really cannot understand that one.
Following last year's farce billed as the Tony Nominations, this year is both thoughtful and exciting. Although CHICAGO seems likely to steamroll its way to the silver, the committee's disallowing Joel Grey's nomination as featured actor in a musical was the closest reminder of the previous year's disastrous nominations. Would have liked to seen Joe Dowling nominated for his direction of LONDON ASSURANCE, but most of the choices were logical, even the inclusion of JUAN DARIEN. Congratulations to the THE LIFE team which is getting the recognition the TIMES found too melodramatic to praise. I have news for [Times critic Ben] Brantley. . .people go to the theater for a lot of reasons...and THE LIFE showers an audience with incredible talent, a story instead of a chandelier, and excitement.
For more responses, see "Playbill Poll: Your Reactions to the Tony Nominations, Part 3" in Theatre News.