The biggest event of the theatrical season is here. The American Theatre Wing's 56th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards honoring distinguished achievement in Broadway theatre for the 2001-2002 season will be presented June 2.
Hosted by Tony winners Bernadette (Song & Dance, Annie Get Your Gun) Peters and Gregory (Jelly's Last Jam) Hines, the Tony Awards ceremony will be broadcast live on television. 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.
For live, up-to-the-minute updates as winners are announced, be sure to watch Playbill On-Line. And, for a slew of Tony-themed articles, go to our special Tony Awards section.
Another web perk: Devoted theatre fans who have internet access will be able to log on to www.tonys.org to catch the first, non-televised half-hour of the annual Tony Awards ceremony. From 7:30 to 8 PM EST, internet users will be able to watch a live webcast of the first half-hour of the Tony ceremony, live from the stage of Radio City Music Hall.
During these 30 minutes, Julie Harris will be presented with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. Famed playwright Arthur Miller will present another Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement to veteran producer Robert Whitehead, and on-liners will also hear welcoming remarks and instructions to the nominees. Appearances from Jed Bernstein and Cy Feuer, the President and Chairman of The League of American Theatres and Producers; and Roy A. Somlyo and Isabelle Stevenson, the President and Chairman of The American Theatre Wing are also expected. (From 6:45 to 7:30 PM, browsers can view the stars arrive on the red carpet at Radio City. To watch the pre-show or red carpet arrival coverage, click on the IBM Media Console button located on the upper-right corner of the screen at www.tonys.org.) The Tony season officially began on May 6 when Steven Weber, star of The Producers, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the current Proof leading lady, announced the 2001-02 Tony Award nominees. Leading the pack was Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was nominated for 11 awards, including Best Musical. Other shows with multiple Tony nominations include Into the Woods and Urinetown The Musical, both with ten nominations; Morning's at Seven, which garnered nine noms.; and Oklahoma! and Sweet Smell of Success, up for seven each.
This season's Tony race is particularly tight, with several categories — including Best Musical and Best Play — having no clear winners.
As of press time, those performers scheduled to take part in the on-air event will include Harry Connick Jr., Mos Def, Savion Glover, Mary Tyler Moore, Paul Rudd, Edie Falco, Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin, Alicia Silverstone, Calista Flockhart, Ralph Fiennes, John Raitt, Anne Heche, Joanna Gleason, Peter Gallagher, Elaine Stritch, Cynthia Nixon, Gina Gershon, Hugh Jackman, Whoopi Goldberg, Liam Neeson, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Pullman, Michele Lee, Stanley Tucci, Jerry Orbach, Natasha Richardson, Lea Salonga, Donna Murphy and Doris Roberts.
Warning: Those who like to be surprised Tony night with who's singing what song may not want to read any further.
The opening number of the CBS portion of the Tony telecast will pay tribute to the late composer Richard Rodgers, who would be celebrating his 100th birthday this year. PBOL had learned of some of the artists who will lend their talents to the work of the composer of The Sound of Music, Carousel and South Pacific. Although the final order of artists and songs to be featured in the tribute has yet to be officially confirmed by the Tony organization, a likely rundown will include Marvin Hamlisch (singing "With a Song in My Heart), Harry Connick Jr. ("The Sweetest Sound"), Michele Lee ("A Cockeyed Optimist"), Mos Def ("My Favorite Things"), Lea Salonga ("I Enjoy Being a Girl," from Flower Drum Song, which Salonga will star in on Broadway next season), Peter Gallagher ("June Is Bustin' Out All Over"), John Raitt ("Soliloquy," a song from Carousel which Raitt was the first to sing) and hosts Peters and Hines, who will duet on "It's a Grand Night for Singing." The company of the current revival of Oklahoma! will also take part in the opening Rodgers medley, singing a portion of their show's title tune.
As for the show's other musical numbers, the cast of the Trevor Nunn-Susan Stroman Oklahoma! will also perform "The Farmer and the Cowman" as its official number later in the program, the Tony organization announced. Songs from Thoroughly Modern Millie, Urinetown, Mamma Mia!, The Sweet Smell of Success and Into the Woods will also be part of the two hour CBS broadcast. Thoroughly Modern Millie's number will include "Forget About the Boy" as well as a portion of the show's title tune. Urinetown is scheduled to perform their second-act show stopper "Run Freedom Run," led by Hunter Foster and the show's company. The ABBA musical Mamma Mia! will feature a medley of tunes — including "Dancing Queen" — performed by the company and led by its three stars, Louise Pitre, Judy Kaye and Karen Mason. The Sweet Smell of Success will offer John Lithgow and the show's chorus singing "Dirt," a tribute to the gossip found in the daily newspaper columns. And, the Into the Woods company, led by Tony nominee Vanessa Williams, will sing parts of its title tune and Stephen Sondheim's second-act anthem, "Children Will Listen."
Co-hosts Peters and Hines will take part in a musical salute to the City of New York during the CBS broadcast, and scenes from the four nominated Best Plays will also be offered. Although subject to change, Playbill On-Line has learned that the Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event — which will go to either Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Barbara Cook: Mostly Sondheim or Sexaholix....A Love Story—will be presented during the second half of the CBS portion of the evening. As for presenters, it appears that Cynthia Nixon and Paul Rudd will present the awards for Best Scenic, Best Lighting and Best Costume Design, Jason Biggs and Alicia Silverstone will present the award for Best Featured Actress in a Play, Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci will present the Best Revival of a Play Tony, and Whoopi Goldberg will present the Award to the season's Best Play.
The complete list of Tony nominations follows:
Sweet Smell of Success
Thoroughly Modern Millie
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL:
Into the Woods
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL :
Gavin Creel, Thoroughly Modern Millie
John Cullum, Urinetown
John Lithgow, Sweet Smell of Success
John McMartin, Into the Woods
Patrick Wilson, Oklahoma!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Nancy Opel, Urinetown
Louise Pitre, Mamma Mia!
Jennifer Laura Thompson, Urinetown
Vanessa Williams, Into the Woods
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Harry Connick, Jr., Thou Shalt Not
Marvin Hamlisch, Craig Carnelia, Sweet Smell of Success
Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis, Urinetown
Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, Thoroughly Modern Millie
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY :
Frank Langella, Fortune's Fool
William Biff McGuire, Morning's at Seven
Brian Murray, The Crucible
Sam Robards, The Man Who Had All the Luck
Stephen Tobolowsky, Morning's at Seven
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY:
Kate Burton, The Elephant Man
Katie Finneran, Noises Off
Elizabeth Franz, Morning's at Seven
Estelle Parsons, Morning's at Seven
Frances Sternhagen, Morning's at Seven
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL :
Norbert Leo Butz, Thou Shalt Not
Gregg Edelman, Into the Woods
Shuler Hensley, Oklahoma!
Brian d'Arcy James, Sweet Smell of Success
Marc Kudisch, Thoroughly Modern Millie
BEST SCENIC DESIGN :
John Lee Beatty, Morning's at Seven
Tim Hatley, Private Lives
Daniel Ostling, Metamorphoses
Douglas W. Schmidt, Into the Woods
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN :
Paul Gallo, The Crucible
David Hersey, Oklahoma!
Natasha Katz, Sweet Smell of Success
Brian MacDevitt, Into the Woods
Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Martin Koch, Mamma Mia!
Douglas Besterman and Ralph Burns, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Bruce Coughlin, Urinetown
William David Brohn, Sweet Smell of Success
SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT:
Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends
Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Barbara Cook: Mostly Sondheim
Sexaholix....A Love Story
SPECIAL TONY AWARDS:
Robert Whitehead, producer
Julie Harris, actress
Williamstown Theatre Festival
—By Andrew Gans