The nominating committee of the Antoinette Perry Awards is scheduled to meet Sunday, May 3, and choose nominees for the 1998 awards.
The nominees will be announced 8:30 AM May 4 at Sardi's Restaurant in Manhattan by Rosie O'Donnell, Bernadette Peter and Peter Gallagher. The awards will be given in a televised ceremony June 7, hosted by O'Donnell.
Be sure to log in to Playbill On-Line after 9 AM (ET) May 4 to learn the nominees. Tickets to the ceremony at New York's Radio City Music Hall go on sale to the general public starting 10 AM (ET) May 4, by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171.
The two major categories, Best Play and Best Musical, are tight races this year.
Ragtime and The Lion King seem sure to be nominated for Best Musical, but the other two spots on the ballot are a question mark. Those eligible: Side Show, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Capeman, Triumph of Love, High Society, Forever Tango and Street Corner Symphony.. Similarly, Art and The Beauty Queen of Leenane seem likeliest to be nominated, based on their reviews, but the other two spots will go to two of the following: Freak, The Golden Child, The Judas Kiss, The Old Neighborhood, Proposals, Jackie, The Herbal Bed or Honour.
The Tony Committee met twice during April to decide on the eligibility of the 1997-98 shows -- that is, shows that opened between May 1, 1997 and April 29, 1998. According to spokesman Kevin Rehac, its decisions have included:
* Cabaret is eligible for Best Revival and all attendant categories (actor, actress, director, costumes, etc.). However the committee has postponed a decision about whether the category will be split into Best Musical Revival and Best Play Revival this year. The otherwise bountiful 1997-98 Broadway season has seen only two other musical revivals: The Sound of Music and 1776.The decision on whether to split the category will be made at a special meeting April 30, the day after the Tony deadline. The Kit Kat Klub, a former disco brought back into the legitimate fold for Cabaret, was recognized as a full Broadway theatre, despite its 522 seats in its current configuration (499 is the contractual minimum for Broadway).
* The one-man show Freak is eligible for Best Play and all attendant categories, including Best Actor, for its author/star John Leguizamo. The committee has ruled various ways on this question in the past.
* Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley of Side Show are eligible to be nominated for Best Actress in a Musical as a single performance. They played Siamese twins in the musical. The move is unusual but not unprecedented. In 1975 John Kani and Winston Ntshona were nominated as a single performance in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and The Island. They won the Tony as Best Actor (Dramatic).
* The committee refused a similar request from the producers of The Sound of Music that the seven child actors who play the Von Trapp brood be considered a single performance -- though the children in the original 1959 were so considered, according to Rehac.
* The committee affirmed that The Lion King is fully eligible for Best Musical, Best Score and attendant categories, even though much of the score was heard previously in Disney's animated film of the same name. The committee has ruled various ways on this question in the past as well. In 1994 another Disney screen-to-stage adaptation, Beauty and the Beast was found to be fully eligible for Best Musical and Best Score. However, in 1996, producer David Merrick sued the Tonys when it ruled that only new songs interpolated into the State Fair, score were eligible for Best Score. It was nominated, and lost. Merrick's suit was dismissed.
* Best Revival will be split into separate categories -- Best Revival of a Play and Best Revival of a Musical -- again this year.
* Though High Society is eligible for Best Musical, its score of Cole Porter standards and trunk songs will not be eligible for Best Score, despite considerable new lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.
* The Chairs will be eligible for Best Revival of a Play.
* There will be at least one Special Tony given this year. It/they will be announced with the nominees for the other categories May 4.
See which people and institutions were proposed by Playbill On-Line members in our Special-Tony Poll.
* Also announced May 4 will be the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Here is the complete list of shows that opened on Broadway during the 1997-98 season, and their eligibility status for the 1998 Tony Awards.
The list includes opening date, closing date where applicable, and the theatre in which the show opened. Abbreviations: M = Musical, P = Play, R = Revival, # = Ineligible.
Forever Tango (M) 6/19/97 Marquis Theatre
1776 (M-R) 8/14/97 Gershwin Theatre
Side Show (M) 10/16/97 to 1/3/98 Richard Rodgers Theatre
The Cherry Orchard (P-R-#) 10/30/97 to 11/9/97 Martin Beck Theatre
Triumph of Love (M) 10/23/97 to 1/4/98 Royale Theater
Proposals (P) 11/06/97 to 1/11/98 Broadhurst Theatre
The Scarlet Pimpernel (M) 11/9/97 Minskoff Theatre
Jackie (P) 11/10/97 to 3/1/98 Belasco Theatre
The Lion King (M) 11/13/97 New Amsterdam Theatre
The Old Neighborhood (P) 11/19/97 Booth Theatre
Ivanov (P-R) 11/20/97 to 1/4/98 Vivian Beaumont Theatre
Street Comer Symphony (M) 11/24/97 to 2/1/98 Brooks Atkinson Theatre
The Diary of Anne Frank (P-R) 12/4/97 Music Box Theatre
The Sunshine Boys (P-R) 12/8/97 Lyceum Theatre
A View from the Bridge (P-R) 12/14/97 Neil Simon Theatre
Ragtime: The Musical (M) l/18/98 Ford Center for Perf. Arts
The Capeman (M) 1/29/98 to 3/28/98 Marquis Theatre
Freak (P) 2/11/98 Cort Theatre
Art (P) 3/11/98 Royale Theatre
The Sound of Music (M-R) 3/12/98 Martin Beck Theatre
Ah, Wilderness! (P-R) 3/18/98 Vivian Beaumont
Cabaret (M-R) 3/19/98 "Kit Kat Klub"
The Deep Blue Sea (P-R) 3126/98 Roundabout Theatre
The Chairs (P-R) 4/1/98 John Golden Theatre
Golden Child (P) 4/2/98 Longacre Theatre
Wait Until Dark (P-R) 4/5/98 Brooks Atkinson
The Herbal Bed (P) 4/16/98 to 4/26/98 Eugene O'Neill
The Beauty Queen of Leenane (P) 4/22/98 Walter Kerr Theatre
Honour (P) 4/26198 Belasco Theatre
High Society (M) 4/27/98 St. James Theatre
The Judas Kiss (P) 4/29/98 Broadhurst Theatre
Nominations for the 1998 Antoinette Perry Awards will be made at a May 3 meeting, and announced May 4. Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, the tireless supporter of Broadway who hosted the acclaimed 1997 Tony Awards broadcast, will be back to host the 1998 awards on June 7 and the ceremony will, for the second year, be broadcast from New York's Radio City Music Hall. Tickets go on sale May 4 at (212) 247-4777. Tony nominees will be announced that same morning, 8:30 AM (EST), at Sardi's Restaurant in Manhattan.
O'Donnell's stint as host -- and her promotion thereof -- are credited with increasing the broadcast's viewing audience by 48 percent from 1996. The 1998 show will be broadcast starting at 9 PM (EST) on CBS-TV once again. The increased ratings apparently enhanced the network's interest in the show -- they've signed on for broadcast rights through 2004.
Leslie Moonves, president of CBS TV, said in a statement, "The Tony Award is the preeminent celebration of theatre in this country . . . Last year's broadcast had dramatic ratings increases in both households and key demographics. I'm sure Rosie's role as host of the program contributed significantly..."
O'Donnell will serve as a producer of the event, with Walter C. Miller -- who's directed Tony broadcasts since 1987 -- serving as executive producer. Says the actress-turned talk show host, "Last year was an extraordinary experience for me. This year's show promises to [be] entertaining and accessible to everyone." 1997's Tonys were the last to be directed by Gary Smith, who had clashed with O'Donnell on aspects of the broadcast.
Isabelle Stevenson, president of the American Theatre Wing, called Miller "the logical successor to Gary Smith, who did a great job for five years."
Roy Somlyo will again serve as managing producer of the Tonys, as he has since 1987. In 1999, however, he'll step down and be succeeded by Edgar Dobie, former president of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company. Somlyo will stay on as a consultant for two further years.
Also for the second straight time, the first hour of the awards (8-9 PM) will be a semi-taped broadcast on Public Television. This allows the presentation of all 20 Tony Awards to be broadcast live (as opposed to previous years, which sometimes had a cut-and-paste feel for the pre taped, technical and design awards). Great Performances' Jac Venza will executive produce the PBS special, "Broadway `98: Launching the Tony Awards."
The PBS special will include highlights of the 1997-98 season, plus interviews and live coverage of celebrities arriving at the Tony gala.
Twenty-eight theatre professionals comprise the 1998 Tony Award Nominating Committee, a decrease by two from last season's group. New names on the list include playwrights Lanford Wilson and Romulus Linney, actress Maureen Anderman and lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes. New members serve a three-year term.
No longer on the Committee are Merle Debuskey (former press agent), Brendan Gill, Jay Harnick (Sheldon Harnick remains), David Ives (playwright), Ming Cho Lee (set designer), Robert McDonald, Dorothy Olim, George White and Edwin Wilson.
According to the Tony Awards Administration Committee (which is run by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers), here is the full list of 1998 nominators:
Billie Allen (actress/director)
Maureen Anderman (actress)
Price Berkley (publisher of Theatrical Index)
Donald Brooks (costumer)
Mary Schmidt Campbell (New York University dean)
Marge Champion (choreographer)
Betty L. Corwin (theatre archivist at NY Public Library of the Performing Arts)
Gretchen Cryer (composer, I'm Getting My Act Together...)
Tom Dillon (administrator)
Mallory Factor (entrepreneur)
Robert Fitzpatrick (educator)
Morton Gottlieb (producer)
Sheldon Harnick (lyricist, Fiddler On The Roof)
Geoffrey Holder (director/actor)
Charles Hollerith (producer)
Barnard Hughes (actor, Da)
Allen Lee Hughes (lighting designer)
Betty Jacobs (script consultant)
Robert Kamlot (general manager)
Jack Lee (musical director)
Romulus Linney (playwright)
Jon Nakagawa (managing director, Vineyard Theatre)
Peter Neufeld (general manager)
Polly Pen (author/composer, Bed & Sofa)
David Richards (writer/critic)
Douglas Watt (writer)
Franklin R. Weissberg (judge)
Lanford Wilson (playwright, Talley's Folly)
Playbill On-Line is still accepting reservations to its special pre-Tony banquet at the Warwick Hotel, hosted by Playbill's Senior Editor, Louis Botto, and featuring surprise guests.
For details on the banquet, visit the Playbill On-Line Club area, accessible from our home page, or the navigation bar at left. Join the Playbill On-Line Club today.
-- By Robert Viagas