We asked for your opinion of the 53rd Annual Tony Awards, and, boy, did we get an earful.
Scores of e-mails to Playbill On-line expounded on high points and low of the three-hour June 6 broadcast (8-9 PM on PBS and 9-11 PM on CBS). Most of the response focused on the presentation of the awards rather than who won awards and how Tony members voted.
Readers missed former host Rosie O'Donnell, cheered Cathy Rigby, loathed the male-dominated collage of script snippets, had advice for the Tony organizers, pointed to fashion disasters, griped about the loss of a number from It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues (it was cut at the last minute) and wondered how something so inherently "live" seemed so...well, here's a sampling of your feedback.
"It isn't lost on me that all the plays highlighted in the montage were male-dominated...and all the characters chosen from those male heavy plays were male. Do the Tonys think that only men can be taken seriously...? Where was Elizabeth Franz in the mix? Why couldn't something from Amy's View have been chosen? Of all places, theatre should champion equality, and diversity." "Loved Kristin Chenoweth and I wonder why Rosie wasn't there."
"Julie and Carol would make fabulous hosts for next year! What a team! And the ratings would zoom!"
"Based on scenes presented, I would see You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and Fosse. Wish Parade was still running."
"Dame Judi was radiant. Whoever designed her dress did right by her. Julie Andrews looked great. I did regret that Uta Hagen was not given her award on stage. She is a living legend."
"For me, they could have skipped the monologues by the men."
"Highlights: Julie and Carol; Angela and Bea; Dame Judi Dench; Parade excerpt, and the fact that it won best book & score awards..."
"Let all us theatre lovers across the country give $100 (or whatever we can) to PBS this year, specifically to ensure that next year they produce and run the entire broadcast. The first hour ran so well and seemed so promising with its combination of documentary and award presentation, but then that lame opening number on CBS. Who was responsible for that fiasco? It certainly set the tone for the following 2 hours: no spontaneity, no direction and no life. Even presenters were joking about the show's feel of neverending lifeless eternity. Broadway only gets one opportunity a year to show its face to a national audience. This year the result was disfigurement. How grotesque is it to have four Best Musical nominees and only present numbers from three of them? Or to constantly be reminded that this was the year of the play and yet not present one scene from one play? Are we unable to focus without the aide of hostess? Have we been reduced to less annual air time than weekly professional wrestling? "
"Low points: Isabelle Stevenson giving a five-minute speech on receiving her lifetime achievement award while Ain't Nothin' But the Blues lost its four-minute slot to perform...[and] letting both producers of Annie Get Your Gun give a speech...while Ain't Nothin' But the Blues lost its slot to perform..."
"Martin Short's number from Little Me -- I think he's a brilliant comedian, and even a pretty good singer...but watching him struggle through that horrible number all I could think was: He beat Brent Carver?"
"All the pandering to Kevin Spacey -- why did so many people feel the need to keep announcing what a wonderful thing he had done for New York audiences? It's great when movie stars come back to Broadway, but Mr. Spacey was a Broadway star first. He is a character actor in films, who rarely gets an opportunity to 'star' in any film project. So to have the opportunity to 'star' on Broadway in a four-hour Eugene O'Neill drama is his privilege, not New York City's!"
"The most captivating moment of the entire evening was Kristin Chenoweth's quick-change from Sally to Tony winner."
"It was a sorry night for the state of theatre. The Tony broadcast was once a classy, exciting evening. This year, it was a boring, poorly-produced-and- directed mess. Cameras were in the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong people at the wrong angle. At least Judi Dench showed the class that once pervaded the evening."
"I thought that the Tonys this year paled in comparison to last year. However, Kristin Chenoweth and the cast of Charlie Brown, and Cathy Rigby and Peter Pan gave some of the spark back. I loved seeing Miss Julie A., and Miss Carol B. together. Also even though I detest The Civil War, I love the song 'Freedom's Child,' so that was a treat as well."
"Happiness is Kristin Chenoweth! Peter Pan left everyone flying!"
"I was so happy Alan Cumming was there to present four awards...the comment he made about rubbing his genitals to a beat had me rolling on the floor. It also was adorable when he tried to pronounce 'Hammerstein'..."
"Alan Cumming using the word 'genitalia' less than five minutes into the show was poor taste. And who dressed him? Yuck. Judi Dench was indeed the fashion winner. Definitely the high point was the moment Julie sang! I think she and Carol would make a great team as hosts next year. I thought Julie was very happy and her enthusiasm was electric!"
"I found it totally unnecessary for Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur to attempt to sing a snippet of 'Bosom Buddies' before they presented their categories. They did the entire number smashingly some 10 years ago and [this year] it looked amateurish and at sea."
"Practically every acceptance speech was way too long (especially Isabelle Stevenson -- shouldn't she know better?). And how come Uta Hagen only got to stand up during the PBS section while Ms. Stevenson got a speech in prime time?; Julie and Carol were fabulous together again, and it was a wonderful coup on Julie's part to sing a few bars of some songs. She looked radiant! Roger Bart's mentioning of Jonathan Larson, the author of Rent, was particularly poignant and very appropriate."
"The biggest highlight of this year's Tony Awards ceremony was definitely the musical selection from Peter Pan. Even though she was non-eligible for a Tony nomination this year, Cathy Rigby is a true winner."
"I thought the Peter Pan segment was terrible! I wanted to see Rosie O'Donnell on the show. What happened to her? I thought overall, the show was well done. The Fosse section was also amazing. That would be one I would definitely like to see."
"Despite everyone's undying affection for all things Rosie, I was glad to see that Ms. O'Donnell didn't appear at all. While I give her credit where it is due, in exposing the nation to Broadway, her pompousness and lack of understanding of all things theatrical always shone through -- who ever heard of having the Broadway awards in a non-Broadway house?! Keep the awards at the Gershwin, and keep Rosie away."
With the exception of Kristin Chenoweth's performance and Cathy Rigby flying out over the audience, I found the evening to be sort of disorganized and unsatisfying. The lowest point of this year's awards had to be that inane 'collage' from Side Man, Salesman, Iceman, and Westman (okay, Lonesome West). A pointless jumble of non sequiturs (and poor Max Wright from Twelfth Night!) that bumped a musical number from Blues -- this in a television production that needed all the musical segments they could get!"
"High point: Julie Andrews actually singing. Low point: That ridiculous game of actor's pinball played by Dennehy, Spacey, et al."
"Waste of time: The Dustin Hoffman film clip tribute to Arthur Miller (completely redundant after Brian Dennehy's intro), especially when they're busy cutting musical numbers.Low point? That awful, unrehearsed (?) montage of lines from various plays. Out of context, all seemed lost, and it sure wouldn't inspire me to see any of the plays if I didn't know better."
"I was outraged that Ain't Nothin' But the Blues was cut from the Tonys. To me that showed no respect for the African-American community or those actors and actresses in the show."
"Missed Rosie! Her enthusiasm for Broadway is the best!"
"Many African-American children watch the Tony's for they love to see what they can do someday, and I never let the children I work with use the excuse that directors will never cast them in a show because they are black, but the move that was made last night by the Tonys I cannot overlook. I am appalled at the way that was handled and it's a shame because I look forward to the Tonys every single year! I pray that this will never happen again and I hope that the cast and crew of Blues takes the necessary action to regain the money they have lost!"
"It's hard to admit, but the best musical number had to be 'I'm Flying' from Peter Pan. Despite the show's triteness and candy-coated story, the youthful exuberance of Cathy Rigby certainly won my attention."
"Kristin Chenoweth tops the night with 'My New Philosophy' and then tops it again with an amazing quick change!!!"
"I think we were all disappointed when Rosie O'Donnell declined to host, if only because she brings some production clout with her (plus, of course, those godlike ratings numbers)."
"As I watched this year's Tony Awards, a line from a song in Parade kept going through my head: 'All the Wasted Time.'"
"Clearly the low point of the evening was the unceremonious bumping of the performance from It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues How could this have happened? Not only was it a nominee for Best Musical, but it's a show that is still running and came from the theatre that had won the Regional Tony Award earlier in the evening -- Crossroads Theatre."
"The truth is that the Tonys produced few high points this year. The only truly enjoyable segment of the CBS broadcast was Kristin Chenoweth and the Charlie Brown company's performance, the Parade and Peter Pan performances a close second. PBS, as usual, did a refined job in their allotment."
"Calista Flockhart and Paul Giamatti? Whoever paired them together ought to be shot. Another embarrassment."
"Perhaps the most obvious lapse of intelligent judgment was the deletion of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. Why in heaven's name do you present two featured numbers from shows that have closed over a currently running musical?"
"With such uninformed and questionable decisions being executed by those in charge of the network television broadcast, maybe PBS/cable should take over the production of the entire evening."
"PBS actually did a far superior job on producing their segment, with the various documentary-like bits about the nominated designers and directors. CBS should learn something from that."
"I found the awards to be very unorganized, bad timing, bad sound man. An embarrassment to the theatre industry."
"High point: Martin Short's acceptance speech. Low point: Everything else about this boring aimless show. Lower point: The so-called dramatic reading of random speeches unrehearsed, unpolished, and pointless. Lowest point: Cutting [the] It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues number."
"It would be nice if the Tony Awards just disappeared and in its place were theatre awards for real theatrical achievement on Broadway, Off Broadway, regional theater."
"The definite highlight of the evening was 'My New Philosophy,' as performed by Kristin Chenoweth. Also, the speeches by both Martin Short and Brian Dennehy were very funny (although the rigors of a live TV broadcast marred Short's Little Me number)."
"Neither PBS nor CBS did a stellar job this year. The PBS show seemed a little too dry, while the network broadcast kept stumbling all over itself in order to meet the needlessly imposed time restraints."
"High points of the Tony broadcast included Julie and Carol (they should have hosted the entire evening!), Kristin Chenoweth and Roger Bart (two very bright new Broadway stars), Martin Short being a real trouper when his mike went out during his number, Audra and Alan during the PBS broadcast were hysterical (although someone needs to give Mr. Cumming some fashion advice) and Brian Dennehy and Judi Dench, the best actors on Broadway today!"
"It was unprofessional, badly written and unfocused."
"I almost turned it off and watch on tape the next day. I never thought I would have thought that of the beloved Tony Awards."
"Anyone who thought this was a great show, should go and watch some of the shows of the '80s and early '90s to see what greatness is."
"Low points: The inexcusable exclusion of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues (absolutely unforgivable), the silly and pointless dialog from the plays and play revivals (I was embarrassed for all those guys -- surely there is a better way of representing the play nominees)..."
"The highlight of the show was Dame Judi Dench, radiant as always and stunning in that beautiful gown. The lowlight was the dramatic readings by the lineup of actors from the nominated dramas, from the botched introduction by Kevin Kline to the incomprehensible readings, a real loser all the way."
"Cathy Rigby and the Peter Pan segment -- one of the few moments of real theatrical magic on display..."
"It would be nice to see The Tony Committee nominate and honor more women in theatre (producers, writers, directors). Theatre is just too male dominated; women need role models, too!"
"Cathy Rigby should be given a lifetime achievement award for all those years out there on the road in the hinterlands perfecting Peter Pan and other shows. My gawd what a worker!"
"Lets hope it's a Rosier show next year!"
-- By Kenneth Jones