Well, the Tony Awards and Rosie O'Donnell are back together again and they're at Radio City Music Hall. For a few days there, the Tony people didn't confirm that O'Donnell would host the 2000 Tonys, though O'Donnell herself had told the press she would be passing out the trophies on June 4. Of course, the Tonys could have declined her services, but that seems hardly likely. During the two years she hosted the ceremony at Radio City, the show saw its best rating in years; last year, when she didn't, the show saw its worst ratings in years. There's no provable connection between Rosie and ratings, but why chance it?
In recent years, the Tony ceremony has found itself in the odd position of having no obvious choice for host. A stalwart Broadway star, such as Bernadette Peters, seems appropriate, but few Broadway names rope in television viewers. To get the viewers, you need movie stars, but what do movie stars have to do with theatre? That leaves O'Donnell -- no theatre actress, no movie star, just a gal who has made a big noise with a big megaphone ("The Rosie O'Donnell Show") about loving the theatre and wanting to do something about it. To many, it still seems incongruous that this stand-up comic and talk show host should shepherd the nation's most prominent theatre awards program, but more and more O'Donnell seems to the post born.
So, Rosie is reborn as the Tony host. Other rebirths of the week include Spalding Gray's Morning, Noon and Night. Usually, Gray's monologues run their course at Lincoln Center Theater, playing Sundays and Mondays to capacity audiences, and then go on tour. This time, the show is transferring Off-Broadway, where it will play at the Union Square Theatre starting Feb. 20, again on Sundays and Mondays, the off-nights of Wit.
New York Theatre Workshop's Off-Broadway hit Dirty Blonde may be reborn as a Broadway show. That is, if the producers can move it into the Criterion Center, dark since the Roundabout Theatre Company was kicked out by real estate mogul, Charles B. Moss Jr. And if they can get the Tonys to declare the theatre Tony eligible, as it was in the Roundabout days. And if they can work out a deal with the Broadway unions as to the future of the formerly nonprofit space. A lot of "if"s.
James Joyce's The Dead has been reborn as an open-ended run. First booked into the Belasco Theatre as a limited run, it was recently extended until March 11, bumping the Belasco-bound revival of The Real Thing to the Barrymore (which was just fine with that show's producers). Now, it looks as if the show will stay through the spring. If this keeps up, maybe they should rename the musical The Un-Dead. And, finally, Irene Worth has been reborn as a stage actress. Truly, she wasn't absent for very long, but matters looked dire when she bowed out of the Broadway production of Ring Round the Moon last spring after suffering a stroke during previews. Marion Seldes took over and Worth never returned to the production. But, starting Feb. 6, Worth treads the boards once more, appearing in A.R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices at Lincoln Center Theater.
In other goings on, one more Broadway shuffle: As it turns out, A Moon for the Misbegotten will move into the Walter Kerr Theatre on March 7 as planned, sending Waiting in the Wings packing on Feb. 13 for the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Also, one-time stage staple Christine Baranski will return to the New York theatre after a long, long absence (Encores! doesn't count), starring opposite Nathan Lane in the Roundabout's revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Lastly, the season has produced one of those strange coincidences produced by a theatre ever on the lookout for lost gems of musical theatre past. Two of the more obscure composers of the American stage, composer Jerome Moross and lyricist John Latouche, will be celebrated on New York stages almost simultaneously, after not begin heard from for years. The major credit for both men is 1954's The Golden Apple, a musical retelling of The Iliad and The Odyssey that was a success d'estime but a commercial failure. Latouche will be the subject of the York Theatre Company's upcoming revue, Taking a Chance on Love, running Feb. 15-March 26. Meanwhile, the Public Theater's Joe's Pub will present the cabaret show A Tribute to Jerome Moross, Feb. 28, and March 6 & 13, with Alice Ripley, among others, singing the composer's tunes.
So for those who have just been waiting for the chance to compare renditions of "Lazy Afternoon"...
-- By Robert Simonson