One of the most highly anticipated days of any theatrical season is the announcement of the Tony Award nominations, an annual event that occurs about a month prior to the actual awards ceremony. This season's nominees will be announced at 8:30 AM on May 6 at the famed Sardi's Restaurant (West 44th Street) by two star replacements, Jennifer Jason Leigh — who currently plays the role originated by Mary-Louise Parker in Proof — and Steven Weber, who has taken over Matthew Broderick's role as Leo Bloom in The Producers.
The Antoinette Perry ("Tony") Awards celebrate the best of the Broadway theatre season and are presented yearly by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing. The season past officially began May 3, 2001, and ended May 1, 2002. Legitimate theatrical productions opening in any of the 39 Broadway theatres are eligible for nominations in 22 categories, which include Best Play, Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Director of a Play, Best Director of a Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Play, Best Leading Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Revival of a Play, Best Revival of a Musical and the relatively new category, Best Special Theatrical Event.
The Tony Awards Nominating Committee, who select the nominees for each category, is a rotating group of up to 30 theatre professionals selected by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. Those on the Nominating Committee are asked to attend every Broadway production of the season, and then meet to vote on nominations. This year's committee includes Maureen Anderman, actress; Price Berkley, publisher; Robert Callely, administrator; Mary Schmidt Campbell, educator; Veronica Claypool, managing director; Betty Corwin, theatre archivist; Gretchen Cryer, composer; John Cunningham, actor; Jim Dale, actor; Jerry Dominus, executive; David Marshall Grant, actor/playwright; Micki Grant, composer/lyricist; Carol Hall, composer/lyricist; Sheldon Harnick, lyricist; Betty Jacobs, script consultant; Robert Kamlot, general manager; Louise Kerz, historian; Galt MacDermot, composer/orchestrator; Theodore Mann, producer/director; Peter Neufeld, general manager; Gilbert Parker, agent; Aubrey Reuben, photographer; David Richards, journalist; Arthur Rubin, producer; Judith O. Rubin, arts executive; Meg Simon, casting director; Rosemarie Tichler, casting director; Arnold Weinstein, educator; George White, artistic director; and Jon Wilner, producer.
Prior to the nominations, the Tony Administration Committee meets several times to determine eligibility of shows and/or performers that do not fall neatly into the established categories. This year's Committee comprised Emanuel Azenberg, Roger Berlind, Jed Bernstein, Ted Chapin, Alan Eisenberg, Dasha Epstein, James Freydberg, Cecilia Friederichs, Sondra Gilman Gonzalez Falla, Jay Harris, Henry Hewes, Rocco Landesman, Doug Leeds, Paul Libin, Margo Lion, Jo Sullivan Loesser, James M. Nederlander, Lloyd Richards, Gene Saks, Gerald Schoenfeld, Roy A. Somlyo, Isabelle Stevenson, Peter Stone and Robert Whitehead. Some of their rulings to date: The solo shows presented by Elaine Stritch (Elaine Stritch at Liberty), Bea Arthur (Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends), Barbara Cook (Mostly Sondheim) and John Leguizamo (Sexaholix... a love story) are eligible for Tony Awards in the young category of Special Theatrical Event. Because Best Actor/Actress nominations are only available to those appearing in plays or musicals, these four performers are ineligible for separate acting awards. The Tony Committee also ruled that Peter Parnell's QED is eligible in the Best Play category as is Fortune's Fool, the 150-year-old play Ivan Turgenev, which had its first Broadway production this spring. Additionally, Frank Langella, whose name is emblazoned above the title in ads and posters for Fortune's Fool, will be considered a featured performer—thus preventing the possibility that Langella will compete with his cast mate Alan Bates. 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 Stritch, Arthur, Cook and Leguizamo, Simon Callow's one-man show, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, is to be considered a play, which will allow Callow to be nominated in the Best Actor in a Play category. And, James Lapine, who helms the current revival of Into the Woods, will be eligible for a Best Director of a Musical Tony nomination even though he was nominated for a Best Director Tony in 1988 for the original production of that Stephen Sondheim musical.
The American Theatre Wing's 56th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards ceremony 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. At press time, no host has been announced. The complete list of Tony nominations will be available on Playbill On-Line on May 6.