In a famous musical number in Bells Are Ringing, Ella the telephone answering service operator shows her boyfriend just how friendly New York subway riders can be. Well, producers of this year's Tony Awards telecast on CBS are apparently hoping for the same level of bonhomie from the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the train system.
According to Army Archerd's May 9 column in Variety, the June 3 television broadcast will open with the cast of the current 42nd Street revival exiting the Ford Center and hopping a 42nd Street subway train (presumably the C or E) up to 50th Street. On the train they'll rendezvous with the casts of The Rocky Horror Show and the aforementioned Bells Are Ringing revival. Assuming there are no sick passengers, MTA slowdowns or trains just-ahead-of-them-to-be moving-shortly, all three casts will exit at 50th and scurry to Radio City Music Hall, where performers from the year's fourth Tony nominee for Best Revival, Follies, will join the gaggle for "a giant tap number to open the show, directed by Glen Weiss."
Variety notes that the subway sequence will be pre-taped, and that Actors' Equity has given permission for performers from all four shows to take part in the same production number (generally, actors are allowed to do excerpts only from the show's they're in.)
Asked about the subway opener, Tony Awards spokesperson Keith Sherman reiterated his recent statements about keeping decisions about the telecast's content under wraps until they were official. He did say that, "We at the Tony Awards have a lot of ideas to open the show, and that [the subway sequence] is certainly among them. But we can't confirm anything yet for the telecast — other than that it'll be a terrific show. We're putting it together right now."
— By David Lefkowitz