Here are more reactions to the 1997 Tony Awards. Playbill On-Line thanks all of those who took the time to write.
From Brendan Riley, Plano, TX:
Just a few points about the 51st Tony Awards. . .good and bad.
A) TITANIC'S WIN FOR BEST MUSICAL! What is this? I was unable to watch the Tony's, because I was flying home from New York. The general attitude of the performer's and fans in the city was, "The Life is 100% guaranteed for Best Musical." When I came home to watch my video tape, to my astonsihing eyes, Titanic not only won best musical, but it won 5 awards. I was in a daze. A true Best Musical is a combination of different elements. Not just the score, lyrics, book, and sets. I am still left wondering how a muscial that was snubbed in every individual category could go on to win this prestigious award. Look at our past winners, RENT, Sunset Boulevard, etc. They had it all--the cast, the music, the whole package. Titanic a show with one good song--the song they used to impress the Tony ballot holders. It is a shame to see, for once, that the biggest, most exspensive musical went on to win--in my opinion, because of its cosmetic appeal and financial appeal.
B) BRAVO FOR JANET McTEER! The most amazing actress to grace that role. It was a privelege to see her win. They made the right choice here. She was a life giving roll to A Doll's House.
C) BRAVO TO CHICAGO! I was overwhelmed to see that Chicago, an amazing piece of work, won the awards it deserved. It proves the saying, "The second is the better time!" Bebe Neuwirth--there could not be a more deserving winner. The same goes for Ann Reinking and James Naughton. Hopefully Mr. Ebb and Mr. Kander's success with this revival will overshadow their losses with Steel Pier. One question--WHERE WAS JOEL GRAY! He was no doubt a winner in my mind.
D) THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA! That was another amazement to me. That was an amazing piece of work. If the Pulitzer prize does not prove that, what does? The Last Night of Ballyhoo is wonderful--but, it does not compare to the modern drama of Atlanta.
E) These were the most upbeat Tony awards in years. The performances were wonderful, Rosie was great, and it was lavishly pulled off with style! Bravo to all the winners, and maybe even more to the losers--the true winners in many of our minds.
All I can say is GO CHICAGO!!!!!!! That show is the best!!!!! Go Bebe Neuwirth, Anne Reinknig, James Naughton, Walter Bobbie, and everyone else involved. That's the best show I've seen in a long time!!!!!
I can't believe that Jekyll & Hyde was not nominated in the best musical catagory. Robert Cuccioli deserved best male lead in a musical also. But as usual with the Tony's politics won out. To completely overlook J & H shows how bias NY is. But the show was a major improvement with Rosie as MC and holding it at Radio City. I would like to see a more impartial panel pick the nominees in the future. I have seen all the new musicals but Titanic which I am seeing on Jun 21. I have attended more musicals than I care to admit to over the years and I know what pleases me. Jekyll and Hyde was undoubtedly the Best Musical of 97 in my estimation.
I think the Tony's this year was a much better show than I thought it was gonna be. I would have preferred to see it broadcast from one station rather than half PBS and half CBS, and I'd would have liked to seen it at the New Amsterdam, but then there's always next year.
I really hope that Rosie gets to become a Tony tradition. She's was great.
I agreed with just about every single decision. I just wish that Juan Darien had won in at least one of its categories. That was one unusual show I'll never forget.
From Abraham Leib:
We thought the Tony show was terrific this year and that Rosie O'Donnell did a great job. 2 stray thoughts:
1. Kander and Ebb - talk about mixed emotions. Chicago gets raves and Tonys, what exhilaration, Steel Pier gets nothing, what a bummer.
2. Whoever thought that a 3 hour Tony award show could go by and the name Stephen Sondheim was not even mentioned once?
From Stephen B. Michigan:
Hooray! Finally the cast, crew and production staff finally get credit for the musical of the year, TITANIC! It was so great to see this wonderful musical finally get the credit it deserves and what an appropriate place to put its live performance. They saved the best for last! Overall I was very impressed at how the Tonys were run this year. No hurried speeches, or shortened numbers but a wonderful display of what the Broadway theatre has to offer America and the world. Bravo to PBS for their one hour special which included not only presentations for some of the most important categories (Choreography and Best Score to name a few) but wonderful interviews and behind-the-scenes looks at this years nominees. And of course, a huge BRAVO and THANK YOU to Rosie for bringing Broadway into American homes through her talk show and giving the Tonys that extra special something during the telecast! And... I am sure most of you will agree that the opening number was the perfect start to the show showing what Broadway still has to offer through many great musicals that are still playing on the Great White Way. Making the Tonys more accessible to the public through having the event at Radio City and offering tickets to the public made the Tonys even more special. Radio City was a perfect venue for the awards offering a large stage for all of the numbers and giving the Tonys a boost into to the "bigtime!" I only hope that this tradition continues along with the one hour PBS coverage! And once again Congrats to the entire cast and staff of TITANIC!
From Alan Forsyth:
I am overjoyed Lynne Thigpen won for An American Daughter and was able to thank Wendy Wasserstein and tell the world what a wondersful play it is. By far a superior play to Last Night of Ballyhoo!?! - Best Play? I don't think so. I think it is very ironic that Man From Atlanta won the Pulizter Prize last year, yet failed to win the Tony. While Last Night of Ballyhoo was considered not worthy of a Pulitzer, so none was given but went on to win the Tony?!?!
Congrats also to Janet McTeer for A Doll's House and truly stunning performance. - I'm sorry that John Lee Beatty did not win for Little Foxes stunning set! - Overall a good show, and the extra house on PBS was great!
From Meryl Evans (email@example.com):
They were much better this year. I didn't feel like I was being rushed as in recent years. Rosie O' was nice and I hope she brought a much needed audience since I don't want the Tonys to stop being broadcasted due to lack of audience. However, she was not up to Angela Lansbury standards. Angela sang and entertained us throughout the show. Rosie's opening was great, but of course, her voice is not as strong as Angela's. I yearn for the Tonys of the 80s. Those were more entertaining since there were more songs than just those from the nominated shows.
I just don't want the awards show to be cancelled. It's the only way a Texan can see the latest and greatest from Broadway.
From Marshall Grant:
Fantastic show. I greatly enjoyed how each presenter told of their theatre memories, and Rosie O'Donnell (whom I am watching right this second) was fantastic and entertaining. I do, however, have one qualm. "Jekyll and Hyde", a show I saw on tour in Dallas, was shut out of the ceremonies, and it upsets me. Robert Cuccioli deserved the Tony far more than that beanpole, James Naughton. Also, I was upset to hear that Linda Eder wasn't even nominated. Besides the ignorance surrounding J&H, the awards were pleasing, and I look forward to watching them for years to come.
I'm still dissappointed that Jekyll and Hyde was snubbed at the Tonys- and for what? Juan Darion, which didn't even perform because it was long closed- come on! As for Titanic winning, I'm glad. I haven't seen it yet (have tickets last week in June- yipee!), but part that I have seen look wonderful and I can't wait to see it. Also- Hooray for THe Last Night Of Ballyhoo! This was one of the best plays I have seen ob Broadway in a long time! ( not to mention that Paul Rudd is absolutely beautiful). The performances were enjoyable as ever, and 3 cheers for PBS for giving us an extra hour of the night for theatre lovers!
I thought the show and the awards were great - but James Naughton over Jekyll & Hyde? I think not.
Also Jimmy Smits? Jimmy Smits? I was hoping the announce made a mistake and meant to say Maggie Smith or someone like that. Jimmy Smits? Could someone explain please?
Thought Rosie's opening number was great!
Unsure of why it took until very end to see clip of Titanic, but hey, I don't get paid the big bucks to produce the show, I just watch it.
How horrid!?!?!?!! I mean come on...I was positive The Life would win!!!! I mean the shows about junky mammals have always won the Best Musical. Rent, Cats. . .the list goes on. And The Life...well, had good music. I mean Titanic is good, but the music seems overdone. Did the Life win anything?!?!?!
Steel Pier, I have not seen, but looks like a fun plotless show. CATS seems to have a better plot...(which is really sad, even though I support CATS).
That one, can't think of the name right now (the one with the puppets?) looked fun, but hopeless. Oh well...
The Life, I supported totally. Although the number they performed last night was horrid, I supported it.
Chicago was definitely good for the win, but Candide should have got some sort achievement award or something. Annie had good singing, hopeless choreography, and muddled acting.
Besides the dissapointments of the awards, the musical numbers and opening medely on CBS were fun. Next year...PUT THE WHOLE THREE HOURS ON ONE STATION.
From Jay Clark (JCLARK@AAC.ORG), Boston, MA:
In my humble opinion this was the best Tonys ceremony since I can't remember when. Overall the whole affair was polished, glamorous, exciting and entertaining. I was also pleased with the outcome of the award's recipients, however, I feel Robert Cuccioli deserved the Best Actor in a Musical award in comparison to James Naughton. Perhaps if J&H (the musical) wasn't under such a harsh critical umbrella, Cuccioli would have been favored.
For the sake of ratings I think the producers should consider moving the ceremony to another night, perhaps Monday. I understand all Broadway shows are dark on Sunday evenings but I think the reality of it is that most people are otherwise occupied on Sunday evenings. This time of year people are returning from their day or weekend getaways or turn in early to prepare for a busy week ahead.
Kudos to PBS for broadcasting the fascinating and educational first hour. It was well executed, concise and highly informative. It made the anticipation of the next two hours all the greater for me. It also made me think that a documentary about the development and fruition of a Broadway play or musical would be an outstanding idea for PBS to produce down the road. Lastly, I was elated to discover I had won the Tony Awards pool at the party I attended for the second consecutive year. I can't wait until the 52nd Annual Tony Awards! RAGTIME, anyone?
From Phillip A. Gates:
Thanks for to opportunity to talk. First, I commend the televsion productions of the ceremonies last night - especially the PBS version. Oh so nice to watch without commercials. Again, theater people reveal themselves to be on average genuinely articulate and thoughtful - even, perhaps especially, non-actors. I find the time constraints on thank-yous inhibits the most charming part of the evening, but it was tolerable last night. The musical numbers presented disappointed a bit. For the most part they seemed unmemorable. Additionally, I thought the scripted vignettes by the presenters wore a bit thin. Still and all the "live-ness" of the shows came through and the joy of the audience at being a part of it came through.
As to the awards I want only to comment on those which went to "Chicago." I saw the production in a matinee performance in March at which Ms. Reinking was absent. I was deeply disappointed in the show. It lacked spark; it seemed self-satisfied. I understand this can happen when a key ingredient in the mix is missing. But her absence should not account for the walk-through performance that Mr. Naughton gave - MOST disappointing for a "star" of Tony calibre. Nor, more importantly, can it account for the sense in which this production comes off as simply a glorified (minimally) stage reading. I had opportunity to see a college production of the show last fall which showed more life and more attention to the show's dramatic qualities. To be sure, the dancing/choreography was excellent, and Ms. Nuewirth performed powerfully. But the best performance I saw was turned in by Michael Berresse. I think my comments speak adequately to the question of direction. On the whole I cannot - and have not - recommended the show to any friends who've asked what's worth seeing in New York these days. And why the Tony folks think that's the best they've got worries me.
On the other hand, allow me to applaud a performance that was not available for awards: Dixie Carter's in Master Class. Her performance is as Tony worthy as was the play - both magnificent.