Fortune's Fool Eligible for Best Play Tony; Langella, Silverstone Are Featured Performers

By Robert Simonson
and Andrew Gans
02 May 2002

Fortune's Fool, the 150-year-old play by Russian master Ivan Turgenev which had its first Broadway production this spring, can be considered for the Best Play category, the Tony Administration Committee decided at a May 2 meeting.



Fortune's Fool, the 150-year-old play by Russian master Ivan Turgenev which had its first Broadway production this spring, can be considered for the Best Play category, the Tony Administration Committee decided at a May 2 meeting.

The decree sets up the possibility that Turgenev will compete alongside such living authors as Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) and Edward Albee (The Goat).

Discussing the decision, Tony spokesman Keith Sherman cited the precedent of the 1995 Broadway mounting of Jean Cocteau's 1938 play Les Parents Terribles, retitled for the American stage Indiscretions. The producers of that show successfully argued that, because the work had never seen the Broadway lights, it should be considered a new play. Indiscretions went on to win a Tony nomination (it lost the award to Love! Valour! Compassion!).

Fortune's Fool was adapted for the current Broadway presentation by Mike Poulton. "It is based on a Turgenev play," said Sherman, "but it has been substantially rewritten by the adaptor. The producers made a convincing argument."

In another decision regarding Fortune's Fool, Frank Langella, whose name is emblazoned above the title in ads and posters, will be considered a featured performer—thus preventing the possibility that Langella will compete with his cast mate Alan Bates. Both actors were praised by critics and both are likely to get nominations.

Alicia Silverstone of The Graduate, too, will be eligible as a featured performer in a play. Her co-stars, Kathleen Turner and Jason Biggs, meanwhile, will vie for nominations as leading actors.

Unlike the solo Broadway shows presented by Elaine Stritch, Bea Arthur, Barbara Cook and John Leguizamo—which were earlier deemed eligible for the young category of Special Theatrical Event—Simon Callow's one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens is to be considered a play. Callow himself, meanwhile, will be available for a leading actor in a play nod. (Stritch, Arthur, Cook and Leguizamo are not eligible for acting nominations.)

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An April 11 Tony Administration Committee ruled that the current season's solo shows starring Elaine Stritch, Bea Arthur, Barbara Cook and John Leguizamo are eligible for Tony Awards in the young category of Special Theatrical Event.

The ruling presents the very real possibility that the two-year old category will be filled this year. In 2001, Special Theatrical Event boasted only one nominee: the drum and bugle corps fantasia Blast!.

The full titles of the four solo shows are Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, Leguizamo's Sexaholix... a love story and Barbara Cook's Mostly Sondheim. Only the Stritch show will still be open at the time of the Tony nomination announcement on May 6, though the Cook revue will return to Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont on June 23.

The Stritch and Arthur outings are both autobiographical in nature, with the veteran stars musing about their long careers, peppering the text with songs. Sexaholix is a solo comedy show with characters on the theme of "relationships: dating, trying to 'get some', breaking up, break-up sex, make-up sex, marriage, divorce." Finally, Mostly Sondheim sees legendary cabaret artist Cook devoting her talents to the songbook of the composer in question.

In other news regarding LCT, the Tonys ruled that Peter Parnell's In other news regarding LCT, the Tonys ruled that Peter Parnell's QED is eligible in the Best Play category. The work runs only on Sundays and Mondays at the Beaumont, on Contact's off-nights.

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Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steven Weber are set to announce the 56th Annual Tony Award nominations Monday May 6 at 8:30 AM.

The American Theatre Wing's 56th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 2.  PBS stations begin the national telecast at 8 PM EST with "The First Ten Awards: Tonys 2002," produced for PBS by Thirteen/WNET New York. CBS will televise "The 2002 Tony Awards" beginning at 9 PM. No host has been announced.

The eligibility cut-off date for the 2002 Tony Awards is May 1. Legitimate theatrical productions opening in any of 39 eligible Broadway theatres during the current season are considered for Tony nominations. The Tony nominations will be available on Playbill On-Line.