This season's nominees will be announced at 8:30 AM on May 12 at the famed Sardi's Restaurant (West 44th Street) by two-time Tony Award winner John Lithgow and Broadway newcomer Melanie Griffith, who will join the New York company of Chicago July 11.
Hairspray, which opened last summer (Aug. 15), is poised to be one of the top nomination-getters, with co-stars Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur sure to receive performance nominations in the Best Leading Actor and Best Leading Actress in a Musical categories. Their competitors will most likely include Nine’s Antonio Banderas and Gypsy’s newest Momma Rose, Bernadette Peters. Both the Billy Joel-Twyla Tharp musical Movin’ Out and the critically praised revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night — starring Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Dennehy, Robert Sean Leonard and Philip Seymour Hoffman — should also fare well May 12.
The Antoinette Perry ("Tony") Awards celebrate the best of the Broadway theatre season and are presented yearly by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing. The season past officially began May 2, 2002, and ended May 7, 2003. Legitimate theatrical productions opening in any of the 39 Broadway theatres are eligible for nominations in 22 categories, which include Best Play, Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Director of a Play, Best Director of a Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Play, Best Leading Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Revival of a Play, Best Revival of a Musical and the relatively new category, Best Special Theatrical Event.
The Tony Awards Nominating Committee, who select the nominees for each category, is a rotating group of up to 30 theatre professionals selected by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. Those on the Nominating Committee are asked to attend every Broadway production of the season, and then meet to vote on nominations. This year's committee includes Maureen Anderman, actress; Price Berkley, publisher; Ira Bernstein, general manager; Robert Callely, administrator; Schuyler G. Chapin, cultural executive; Veronica Claypool, managing director; Betty Corwin, theatre archivist; Gretchen Cryer, composer; Jim Dale; actor; Merle Debuskey, press representative; David Marshall Grant, actor; Micki Grant, composer/lyricist; Julie Hughes, casting director; Betty Jacobs, script consultant, Robert Kamlot, general manager; Louise Kerz, historian; David Lindsay-Abaire, playwright; Theodore Mann, producer/director; Gilbert Parker, agent; Shirley Rich, casting director; David Richards, journalist; Aubrey Reuben, photographer; Arthur Rubin, producer; Judith Rubin, arts executive; Bill Schelble, press representative; Meg Simon, casting director; Sister Francesca Thompson, arts educator; Rosemarie Tischler, casting director; and Jon Wilner, producer.
Prior to the nominations, the Tony Administration Committee meets several times to determine eligibility of shows and/or performers that do not fall neatly into the established categories. This year's Committee comprised Alan Eisenberg, Arthur Whitelaw, Barry Grove, Billie Allen, Cecilia Friederichs, Christopher Wilson, Dasha Epstein, Doug Leeds, Emanuel Azenberg, Gene Saks, Gerald Schoenfeld, Henry Hewes, James Freydberg, James L. Nederlander, James M. Nederlander, Jay Harris, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Julia Hansen, Leonard Soloway, Margo Lion, Melvin Bernhardt, Michael David, Michael McBride, the late Peter Stone, Philip M. Getter, Philip Smith, Rocco Landesman, Roger Berlind, Roy A. Somlyo, Sondra Gilman Gonzalez-Falla, Ted Chapin and Tom Schumacher. Some of the committee’s many rulings to date: Bill Maher’s Victory Begins at Home, Jackie Mason’s Prune Danish, the London comedy The Play What I Wrote and Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam are all eligible in the relatively new category, Best Special Theatrical Event. Only Yakov Smirnoff’s As Long As We Both Shall Laugh was deemed ineligible for that — or any other — Tony category because “the show does not perform a reasonably conventional playing schedule.”
Billy Joel's Movin' Out — featuring choreography by Twyla Tharp and told entirely in dance and existing pop songs sung live — is eligible for the Best Musical category. Because the musical, which features the songs of pop star Joel, is eligible as Best Musical, its stars are eligible in the best actor/actress musical categories. La Bohème, a modern retelling of the classic Puccini opera directed by Baz Luhrmann, is eligible in the Best Revival of a Musical category. This decision was based on a new "classics" rule created by the Tony committee last summer. Because the staging has been deemed a revival, La Bohème’s creative team and cast are Tony eligible. No decision has been announced about the eligibility of Bohème’s three rotating casts. That announcement is expected May 12, prior to the Tony nominations.
There were also numerous decisions made regarding what actors are eligible in leading (or featured) categories.
The American Theatre Wing's 57th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards ceremony will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 8. CBS will televise the entire three-hour event, 8-11 PM ET.
The complete list of Tony nominations will be available on Playbill On-Line early on May 12.