Here are more reactions from Playbill On-Line members to the 1997 Tony Awards broadcast. Playbill thanks all those who took the time to write.
I felt that every show got what they deserved at the Tony's. And I couldn't have been more thrilled when TITANIC was announced as the best musical! I have the show several times, and each time I was affected by the rich score, and by the best ensemble on Broadway. The only real disappointment of the evening was when Robert Cuccioli's name was not called out for Best Actor in a Musical. I know that the Tony voters did not like Jekyll & Hyde, but don't take it out on someone who is giving the performance of their lifetime. Out of all the nominees, he was the most deserving. But the telecast went well, and best of all, no one was rushed off the stage by the orchestra as in the last several years letting the winners give some poignant and sincere speeches. Congrats to everyone!
From LuvDracula :
Tonys '97 wasn't the most exciting, not the most controversial, but....wow-what a show!
The marriage between CBS and PBS was PERFECT...the extra time allowed everyone to say what they wanted and THANK who they wanted...the "pre Tony" show on PBS was doubly exciting in that we not only saw the awards being given out, but some informative background on the nominees and their work- talented individuals who normally get forced into the background during this event.
There were no major surprises amongst the "acting" awards, but I was especially happy to see Lilias White and Lynne Thigpen get awards- I'd seen Lilas in the role of "Effie" in the L.A. company of DREAMGIRLS, replacing Jennifer Holiday, and this woman's whole performance tore me apart....I've been in love with Ms. Thigpen since seeing her in the film version of GODSPELL, and followed her career in theater, TV and film with anticipation....how wonderful it is to see real talent get its due! While I'm happy for Bebe Neuwirth, I'd seen her perform her current role out in California, appearing opposite Juliet Prowse, in one of her final stage roles before her untimely death- Juliet was truly dazzling, but somehow, Bebe couldn't compare with the role's originator (Chita Rivera)...it's a little sad to see someone of lesser abilities get an award for a role that someone far better missed out on...and to the Tony Commitee- next year, PLEASE LOSE ROSIE!...She's a great gal and all, and theater lovers everywhere can't praise her enough for supporting Broadway, BUT....let's face it- she shouldn't be allowed to sing anywhere other than her shower! She was part of the reason the revival of GREASE was the travesty that it continues to be, and with her incredibly limited vocal talents inflicted on the various Broadway companies during the Opening Number, probably scared off the millions of potential ticket buyers that would have seen the shows...and I'm TRULY grateful I didn't hear Ms. O'Donnell sing ANYTHING from the score of LES MISERABLES, lest I burn the 20 various recordings of it that I own, to try to get what would have been an awful memory out of my brain....
From Jean Sulkes:
Last April, my husband, daughter and I went to New York for a weekend of theater-going.
Our first show was Chicago, and we were all thrilled and delighted with the actors and the dancing. We left the theater with the utmost confidence that this show would win Best Revival, unquestionably.
The next night we saw Titanic. I had held tickets to that show since New Year's, and with all the problems and disappointing reviews, we went with some trepidation. However, just as the night before, we were enthralled with the show. The music, the sets, and the story were done with such good taste and such poignancy. It was almost as if the show became a member of our family, because our hopes for its success were so important to us. You can imagine our gratification last night watching the Tonys.
We also saw A Young Man from Atlanta, and were somewhat disappointed that Rip Torn was not nominated. Although I saw Christopher Plummer in Barrymore in Detroit, and felt he was very good, Rip Torn did a tremendous job.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself.
From Steve Przybylski, Big Flats, NY:
Although I'm active in theatre, I live pretty far away from the city and the action, so I'm not able to go and see for myself what's going on in the theatre world, and the Tony Awards are sometimes my only glimpse of the new productions each season. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard that a musical was going to be written about the Titanic (not that there haven't been less likely subjects that made excellent musicals, "Assassins" among them), but based on the performances that took place during the evening, there's no doubt that "Titanic" was the most deserving work to win best musical. I stand de skepticized! Congratulations, not just to the winners but to everybody that worked hard on these shows- even if some of us can't come to see you, we still appreciate it!
I did not expect Titanic to win the best musical, but I am very glad it did!!! Congratulations to Titanic and Chicago. I think that Robert Cuccioli should have won the best actor in the musical, but other than that I am happy with the outcome of the Tonys. PBS also deserves to be congratulated for a job well done. It was very informative.
Bravo to the voters...they all agreed with me, the first time in a long time...brava Bebe, Chicago and Titanic most of all!!!!
Once again the state of the theater today is reflected by the shows that have won the Tony Awards. There are not enough shows of quality on Broadway, therefore nominations are given to hows such as the Titanic. If there were more shows on Broadway, and the costs weren't so high to mount a production, than the Titanic would not have one a single award, nor would a show like Steel Peer. Shows like this winning are a sad reflection of the Tony Awards and the Broadway as it is today.
Thanks to Playbill On-Line I got my front mezzanine ticket early on. It was an excellent seat by the way. Sitting in the audience definitely added to the excitement for me. I was impressed how the technicians had their act together. Everything was timed very well, and they moved sets in and out beautifully.
All the presenters seemed to be glowing. But I didn't understand the order of presenters--why was Lauren Bacall scheduled so early? And why did Jimmy Smits give the best play award? Shouldn't Julie Andrews have given the Best Musical award? Whoopi Goldberg is hardly a musical giant!
Most of the numbers came off smoothly. Annie and Candide didn't wow the audience, but everything else did. I thought Steel Pier came off particularly well--the dancing is a high-point of the show so that was emphasized in the number. Although I enjoyed The Life number, I don't think it gave a good idea of what the show was about since not all the characters were present.
Rosie was much funnier off-camera and I'm sorry her delight didn't totally come across as a hostess. I don't think the opening number did her justice--she can be so funny. But all in all, I was so thankful to attend the show, and the extra hour allowed the behind-the scenes people to get some recognition. I'm not sure why Dream got so much coverage in the first hour; if they did that, there should have been footage of Jeckyll and Hyde as well.
I am one of the supporters of Titanic, even though I also liked The Life. I saw the show twice before the Tonys and several weeks after it opened. The show has really come together and there is none of that chilliness in the production that the reviews kept referring to. The actors really connect with the audience, and Maury Yeston's music is often thrilling to listen to.
I think The Life didn't win the Best Score award because of the lyrics, which were often terrible. I still think the strongest element of The Life were the performers and they were justly recognized.
No, Titanic's cast wasn't nominated which was an oversight. I think early on the nominators were strongly influenced by the critics. There was no reason not to nominate some of the actors in Titantic, such as John Cunningham, Brian d'Arcy James, and Victoria Clark. But this is an ensemble show and there is no Tony for Best Ensemble. I have no idea why the director of Titanic wasn't nominated. I'm told that Steel Pier was really held together by Susan Stroman, not the director, and you can see that a lot of the weak sections of that musical are in the non-musical parts.
Well, each of the new musicals has their supporters. No matter how much I enjoyed Chicago, which didn't need any Tonys to keep running, I wish some of Chicago's Tonys had been bestowed on the newer shows, but that's show business.
Finally, I wish Skylight had won the Best Play award.
I enjoyed both the PBS and CBS presentations-- The PBS hour was concise and insightful and the comments from the nominees were very interesting-- Rosie--- Loved her but, please, Rosie-- those outfits!!! very unfortunate fashion choices.
Didn't see Titanic, but felt that another show suffering from poor reviews deserved at least a nomination-- that show being Jekyll & Hyde (which Ben Brantley torpedoed worse than that iceberg took down the Titanic).
James Naughton is a fine actor, but after seeing an electrifying, demanding performance by Robert Cuccioli, I was disappointed that he didn't get the nod.. but hey, Naughton is a "name" and a "safe" vote in a "safe" show like Chicago.
Despite the Jekyll & Hyde shutout (couldn't they at least have allowed Linda Eder to show off those golden pipes?) no evening is bad that spotlights Live Theatre- THE greatest form of entertainment available on the planet!
Thanks Playbill for the great coverage and a great website!!
PLEASE, someone please cork Rosie O's mouth. I've heard better notes out of frogs. Bring back the elegant Angela Lansbury. Also along with Rosie's retirement should be that women who heads the Theatre League. She needs to go or rehearse her lines better.
JEKYLL & HYDE certainly got overlooked, like last years V/V and BIG, it's really too bad. I also feel shows that have closed should not have the oppertunity to be nominated. Isn't it all about boxoffice $$$$ after all? Shows up and running depend on the Tonys for boxoffice boost. That could make or break a show. What does a nomination or a win ( something I don't think has ever happened) bring to a show that couldn't pull through atleast a season to deserve that recognition? If it's closed isn't it obvious it wasn't something the public cared for? Regardless of what the critics say. CATS is a good example of what power the pubic has over what the critics write. They all panned CATS when it opened and look at it now . . .and forever.
I always look forward to the Tonys each year, but I have felt that they are not as of high of a priority for CBS as some of the other award shows. I think it was great that PBS picked up the first hour, thereby giving on-air recognition to some well deserved winners. Actually, I wish PBS would air the entire evening; with no commercials there would be more time for additional numbers from the musicals.
Now as for Rosie, I expected more from her given the excitment and humor she displays on her TV show. This night she appeared nervous and rigid and she didn't seem to be having a good time. She also kept talking over the applause (something you usually learn not to do in a high school Drama I class). Finally, I think it should be a new tradition to hold the Tonys at Radio City each year. The larger theatre can accommodate a larger audience and I like the idea that one day I may be able to buy a ticket to the Tonys (I doubt that I will ever be nominated for one)! showing was a great idea also.
Maybe we can look forward to the 52nd Tonys to be hosted by the theatrical talents of Vanna White or Kathy Lee, now there's a winner!
From Stacey Mac Kinnon:
Thank the Lord for justice at the Tonys this year!!! BEBE NEUWIRTH was the most deserving candidate on the ballot! She is the only person I know of who's talents could never be exaggerated! A marvelous dancer, a brilliant actress, a captivating singer, and gorgeous as hell - she is the highlight of Broadway this season!
The dumbing down of America continues full steam by moving the show OUT of a Broadway Theater and into Rosie's pick, Radio City. The producers of the show who wanted nothing more than T V ratings from the masses, who have never seen a show and don't intend to but would tune in for a while just to see Rosie, got what they wanted. More audience. At a sacrifice of transmitting the intimate feel of being there and seeing what one would see in the theater, they made it clear that it was about the buck and had little to do with the shows. Congrats, Rosie, you made it. You managed almost single-handedly to take the class out of one of the shining examples of class left in America. Now if we can just get Dennis Rodman to host the Oscars. . .