The Tony Awards Administrative Committee is scheduled to meet April 30 to decide, among other things, whether a Special Award should be given in 1998. These special honors are given in addition to the regular Tony Awards, generally for lifetime achievement or special sustained contribution to Broadway.
Playbill On-Line asked readers to tell us who or what they think deserves a Special Tony or Tony Honor this year. We asked readers to include a paragraph explaining their choice.
Owing to the volume of replies, we have created this second file of responses. Playbill thanks all who took the time to write.
CY COLEMAN!!! The Best Broadway composer ever!!!! He has composed twelve full-length Broadway shows in total, with ten having been great successes. He has been honored with three Tonys for best score, but I believe he should have gotten more for such shows as, Seesaw, Barnum, and Sweet Charity. I believe the should be honored with a lifetime achievement Tony for he tremendous contribution to the Theater!!!!
From Jeffrey L. Walker:
It would be difficult to choose whom to begin giving the award to, but I think that RCA Victor (BMG?) should receive a special Tony for their dedication to preserving the best of Broadway on disc and for being a leader in re-releasing (and often re-packaging with archival material) the best from the Golden Age of Broadway. In years to come, Columbia/Sony, Varese-Sarabande (especially for the lesser known gems), MCA and others could receive a Special Tony Award for Broadway Recording Excellence (or whatever it could be called).
From Mauro da Fonte:
It should be given to Rosie O' Donnell. For the past year she has promoted Broadway and it's shows. Also all those responsible for getting the shows on tour. All of us living far from New York, now have a chance of seeing the best of Broadway, without having to travel. They also deserve a special Tony.
I am disappointed to see that very little attention was paid to Side Show and it's cast. Great score, very interesting story, not your everyday sugar and water. Kudos to Skinner and Ripley, the best. I hope the Tony does not forget them.
Lifetime Achievement - Betty Buckley - an incredible career on both sides of the Atlantic!
From William P. Hines, Scranton, PA (Wphines@aol.com):
A special Tony Award should be given to Jac Venza, from PBS who has created several wonderful documentaries about the Broadway experience. He also serves as the producer for show on PBS which airs one-hour before the national broadcast on CBS. Venza has produced the "Great Performance Series" which has taken backstage at "Jelly's Last Jam," "Guys and Dolls," and "Victor/Victoria" to name a few of his credits.
The Tony Awards should recognize PBS---its a friendship which will be very beneficial in years to come.
Also, the Tony's should pay tribute to Laurie Beechman. Her determination to sing at "Cats" birthday party despite suffering immensely from ovarian cancer. She will always be an ambassador of hope especially for the suffering actor---and those living with AIDS. Her spotlight continues to shine brightly in theaters all across America.
Beechman received national recognition from President Clinton--isn't it about time that the Tony Awards which celebrates the theater do the same.
Chita Rivera should be honored for brilliant musical theater career. Her rendition of "All That Jazz" is entirely different from the current New York concert version of the show. Thank God, Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City has booked her for 7 weeks beginning on June 29. There are very few performers in the industry like Chita Rivera. Please post "Chita and All That Jazz" in the theater news section.
And I think PLAYBILL should be honored for its wonderful theater programs and especially for PLAYBILL-ON LINE. Take a bow!
From Tina Sheing (TBeanzo@aol.com):
My name is Tina Sheing and I'm an avid fan of the Broadway Theater. I feel a special Tony Should be given to one of the following: Laurie Beechman because of the outstanding ability she had to bring the house down. Her strength & courage through her illness and STILL performing as if nothing was wrong!!! Her contribution to the theatre and it's music should be honored for life!
Rosie O'Donnell is the other suggestion. She has helped revitalized Broadway by bringing snips of every show she can get her hands on to everyone across America! She gets the audiences interested in theatre. She boosted the ratings of the TONY's last year and I'm sure it will rise again this year!
Patti Lupone should get an Honorary Tony. Why? What modern day diva has had just as much success on Broadway as she has on the West End? And she is STILL doing it!
From Victor Rodriguez:
Chita Rivera.From a chorus girl in "Call Me Madam" to a 1999 revival of "Dear World!" It is not just the staying power or the quality of her technique; what makes her deserving of this award is the love and vitality she pours into each performance. She gives 100% whether she's dancing with the best, Gwen Verdon, or dancing in something less then "best" ie. "Bring Back Birdie." She loves the theatre and we love her back. (you know what Fanny Brice would say next.) The year she injured her leg during the run of "Jerry's Girls," she appeared on the Tony telecast and sang Put On A Happy Face, with a leg brace! Chita Rivera is my choice for this year's special award.
Another vote for Laurie Beechman. Her talent speaks for itself. I believe she should and would have received a Tony in her life time if only A) The Tonys recognized replacement performers (her Grizabella & Fantine would have been formidable competition.) and B) if the broadway musical as a whole were in better shape, she'd have been afforded more opportunities to originate roles, thus making her eligible.
Additionally, she was involved with many humanitarian efforts, such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, which had a direct impact on the quality of life of many of her theatre colleagues. If not a special Tony, I think they could at least mention her remarkable contribution to the theatre on the telecast.
From Bob Stempin, Playwright, Dearest Teacher:
I have two requests for special awards. One is for Julie Harris/William Luce (Playwright) for their contributions in theatre. Julie's for her remarkable acting throughout the years and Bill's for his contributions, as a playwright, to the theatre. The other request is also one for Rex Harrison, who was not remembered after his death by the industry.
Could there not be a special Tony for what is being done to help promote theatre all around the world. . . the internet websites such as: Talkin' Broadway and the Tony website?
I also think that Rosie O'Donnell should get a Tony for all the promoting of Broadway that she does on her show.
I'm in agreement with previous in feeling that Laurie Beechman (her family accepting) should win a special Tony award for her incredible contributions to theatre. She loved the business ever since she began and until the day she died. Very few people could light up the stage as she; and her dedication to her occupation through the thick and thin remains, at least to me, an incredibly courageous and honorable accomplishment. These other actors & directors are all well and good, and certainly should be recognized-but after Ms. Beechman.
I feel that Julie Andrews is long over due for a Tony award. She has created some of the most classic characters in Broadway history, and it is a joke that she has not been recognized by the Tony committee. Shame on you!
From dennis j. pauly:
I like all the choices. Julie Harris should probably get the Lawrence Langer Lifetime Achievement Award. She is still treading the boards.
Since Julie Andrews never won a Tony maybe it is time she gets one. I can see why people would disagree since she only did a few shows. The cast in VICTOR/V did work for a long time thanks to her drawing power.
If Rosie O'Donnell continues to push the theater then give her something later. If they give any awards it should be to those who have been around a while and were not flashes in the pan.
Reading over the list of previous winners you often wonder what happened to people like Brian Backer, Virginia Capers and others. I guess they work in regional theater. It is only when a book on CHORUS LINE comes out that you find out what happened to some of the people.
I wonder if the list of nominees this year will include both Natasha and hubby Liam.
From Hector Laguna Garrido (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Well I do not know much about theater but one thing I know is that Rosie [O'Donnell] has promoted new musicals since the beginning of her show, so if someone deserves a Tony, she does. Another thing, why there isn't a tony award for best song in a musical, like in the Oscars, there are musicals that don't inspire or deserve to win the best musical award but have songs like "This is the moment" from Jekyll and Hyde, "Endless night" from The Lion King or "Who will love me as I am" from Side Show, that really get your emotions going. For songs like these ones, the audience is able to receive the essential meaning of the show.
From Bob Stempin:
A gypsy who is now retired and worked in the theatre continuously 'as a gypsy'....doing what he loved for many, many years. He was always very much in demand, and was well known in the industry as one of Broadway's most talented dancer/singers. He was written up in 'Playbill' which honored him and his contributions several years ago. He appeared in many, many musicals (Hello Dolly, LaCage, Funny Thing...and many too numerous to mention. He also appeared with many Broadway stars in Las Vegas, etc.
His name is David Evans!
From Dave in NJ:
While one might consider the highly-unusual Ripley/Skinner tandem worthy in a special category, I'm hopeful that they share a nomination for Best Actress, and that this truly wonderful show gets a nod for Best Musical. Sorry to say, "Side Show" was experienced by too few.
I think there should be a special category in the Tony's recognizing children actors. There are quite a few of them on Broadway at all times and they contribute largely to the success of the shows, but have no forum to be recognized for their performances. They should be recognized for their stamina alone....most giving eight performances a week, going to school and participating in publicity events and charity benefits. Let's hear it for the kids!