More than 100 former Tony Award winners have been invited to the CBS-TV broadcast of the 50th annual Tony Awards June 2.
The celebrities presenting each award will introduce a retrospective featuring previous winners in each category.
As is traditional, there also will be numbers from each of the four shows nominated as Best Musical. Attempts to expand the category to five in this comparatively bountiful season were rebuffed.
To fit this ambitious schedule of entertainment into a two hour broadcast, 9-11 PM (ET), only eight of the 21 awards will be given live. The other 13 awards will be given in the hour before the broadcast, and the winners' speeches will be shown on edited tape.
The show's producer, Gary Smith, said he hopes to eliminate time wasted as winners walk to the stage, and reduce the need to gradually drown out long-winded speeches with the orchestra, as has been the policy in recent years. All speeches will be edited to 25 seconds. Awards that will be given live: Best Musical, Best Play, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actress in a Play, Best Actor in a Play, Best Revival of a Play, Best Revival of a Musical. (Yes, the latter two categories will be split again this year.)
Awards that will be shown on tape: Best Director of a Play, Best Director of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Score, Best Book, Best Costume Design, Best Set Design, Best Lighting and Outstanding Regional Theatre.
As reported first by Playbill On-Line, the 50th anniversary awards will be given at Broadway's Majestic Theatre, home of many Tony-winning Best Musicals through the years: South Pacific, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, A Little Night Music, The Wiz, 42nd Street and the current Phantom of the Opera.
Nathan Lane, star of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on Broadway and The Birdcage on film will host the Tony show. He was originally to have at least one other co-host, but now is being billed as sole host.
If no new productions are scheduled and no existing ones are cancelled, the 1995-96 Broadway season will have seen 38 productions, nearly 40 percent more than last season's 28 productions.
Here are the shows that were eligible for those nominations:
* Seven new musicals were eligible this year (versus only two in 1995): Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Swinging on a Star, Victor/Victoria, State Fair, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, Big and Rent. This is one of the most diverse offerings in this category in a decade. Only four can be nominated. Which three will they leave off?
* Eight new plays were eligible this year (versus nine in 1995): Moon Over Buffalo, Sacrilege, Master Class, Racing Demon, Getting Away With Murder, Seven Guitars, Jack and The Apple Doesn't Fall . . ..
* A whopping 14 play revivals were mounted; 13 invited Tony voters and were eligible (versus 11 last year). Look at this list of authors: Ference Molnar's The Play's the Thing, Tennessee Williams' Garden District, William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Richard Sheridan's The School for Scandal, Phillip Barry's Holiday, August Strindberg's The Father, William Inge's Bus Stop, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's Inherit the Wind, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Williams' The Night of the Iguana, Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, Sam Shepard's Buried Child, Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. Which four playwrights do you think will come out on top there?
Phillip Hayes Dean's Paul Robeson did not invite Tony voters and is not eligible, according to Susan Harley of the League of American Theatres and Producers.
The same is true of the season's five specialty shows (versus three last season): Red Buttons' Buttons on Broadway, Patti LuPone on Broadway, Fool Moon, Danny Gans on Broadway and Jackie Mason's Love Thy Neighbor.
The Tony nominating committee this year consisted of Jon Robin Baitz, Donald Brooks, Marge Champion, Betty L. Corwin, Gretchen Cryer, Thomas Dillon, Brendan Gill, Jay Harnick, Charles Hollerith, Barnard Hughes, Robert Kamlot, Ming Cho Lee, Robert McDonald, Lynn Thigpen, Douglas Watt and George White.
-- By Robert Viagas