Approximately 100 members of the press received a very surprising notice yesterday. Journalists on what is known as the “First Night Press List” (i.e. the top priority theater journalists) were informed that they are no longer invited to vote for the Tony Awards. The letter came without warning and did not include much insight into what precipitated the decision. The only reason suggested was that the Tony Management Committee sees journalists as having a conflict of interest (some members of the press, notably those at the New York Times, already have a policy of not voting for such awards). Some people have noted that considering the remaining 700 Tony voters are made up primarily of theater owners, Broadway producers, publicists, theater artists, and others who clearly have a personal interest in the outcome of the awards, the Tony logic is backwards. Suspicions are that this move is another step for the Tony Awards to become even more commercial, where the results are more about rewarding the Broadway shows with the greatest commercial potential than those of the highest quality. Several members of the Broadway press have already made their displeasure clear in their publications. The remaining fallout should be interesting to observe. The Tonys could see a drop in press coverage if the spurned journalists turn vengeful.
On the heels of the 63rd Annual Tony Awards ceremony, it has been announced that the Tonys will stop giving out the Best Special Theatrical Event award. This award was created to honor unusual, non-traditional, and limited run Broadway shows that didn’t fit so neatly into the Best Play or Best Musical categories. Nominees in that category this year included Will Ferrell’s limited engagement (almost) one-man show You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush, the magical wintry clown show Slava’s Snowshow, and winner Liza’s at the Palace starring Liza Minnelli. The advantage of eliminating the category is that these Broadway shows are now eligible for other production element awards such as set design and costumes, which they previously weren’t eligible for. To ensure that these special theatrical events can still be recognized, the Tonys will consider them for the Best Play or Best Musical categories. The Tony committee will also reserve the right to honor these types of shows with a Special Tony Award if deemed worthy.
The sun shined in Radio City Music Hall last night where they held the 63rd Annual Tony Awards, and where Best Musical Revival winner Hair made a particularly impressive showing. The broadcast’s opening number began with Elton John singing a song from Best Musical winner Billy Elliot, which led into a medley that featured several current Broadway shows, culminating in all of the performers singing “Let the Sun Shine In” together on stage as Hair‘s hippies prowled through the aisles and danced with Tony attendees. The rest of the ceremony – for better or for worse – was similarly eventful, and was jam-packed with musical numbers this year (including songs from touring shows Legally Blonde, Mamma Mia, and Jersey Boys). Neil Patrick Harris proved to be a great host, with a relaxed demeanor and a sharp wit – he also sang a hilarious closing song recapping highlights from the ceremony. Big winners during the night included Best Play winner God of Carnage and Best Revival of a Play winner The Norman Conquests. Actors that took home trophies included Angela Lansbury and Geoffrey Rush, whose acceptance speeches were particular highlights, Next To Normal‘s Alice Ripley, West Side Story‘s Karen Olivo, and the trio of young men who play the title role in Billy Elliot.
Attention theater fans: Tonight is your night! It’s Tony Awards night, which is practically a national holiday for those who love Broadway. The 63rd Annual Tony Awards will air on CBS at 8pm Eastern time in a three-hour broadcast coming live from Radio City Music Hall in midtown New York City. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) hosts the ceremony, which will feature musical numbers from the nominated shows, in addition to the awards. The impressive list of presenters will include Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda, Kristin Chenoweth, Anne Hathaway, Angela Lansbury, Kevin Spacey, Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini, and many more. For Broadway lovers who would like to enjoy the telecast in the company of fellow theater fans, there is going to be a simulcast of the ceremony in Duffy Square (home of the TKTS booth), right in the heart of Times Square. Hosted by Tovah Feldshuh (currently starring in the Broadway play Irena’s Vow), this special broadcast of the Tonys will also include the untelevised pre-show Creative Arts Awards from 7pm to 8pm.
The presenters for the 63rd Annual Tony Awards ceremony have been announced, and it’s quite a starry line-up, full of theater celebrities (many who are currently appearing in Broadway shows) and well-known personalities from film and TV too. The stars currently scheduled to present awards and introduce the evening’s performances on the telecast are: Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda, Kristin Chenoweth, Anne Hathaway (upcoming Twelfth Night in Central Park), Angela Lansbury (Blithe Spirit), Kevin Spacey, Lauren Graham and Oliver Platt (Guys and Dolls), Jessica Lange, Audra McDonald, Susan Sarandon (Exit the King), Carrie Fisher (upcoming Wishful Drinking), Piper Perabo (Reasons To Be Pretty), Lucie Arnaz, Kate Burton, Edie Falco, Hallie Foote, Colin Hanks, Frank Langella, David Hyde Pierce (Accent on Youth), John Stamos, Chandra Wilson, James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis (God of Carnage). Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony, which will air on June 7, broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Most of Broadway dressed up and headed to Radio City Music Hall last night for the annual Tony Awards. Some awards went exactly as expected, with Patti Lupone taking Best Actress in a Musical for Gypsy, South Pacific grabbing Best Musical Revival, and August: Osage County winning Best New Play and Best Play Direction. There were no big upsets, though a few slight surprises, such as Stew taking Best Book of a Musical (many predicted Xanadu‘s Douglas Carter Beane would win) and Rondi Reed being awarded for her outstanding supporting work in August (she was up against critic’s darlings like Martha Plimpton and Sinead Cusack). There were many, many close contests: In the Heights got the Best Musical and Best Score prizes (which Passing Strange took in many other awards contests), Paulo Szot took Best Actor in a Musical against all-around strong competition, Deanna Dunegan got Best Actress in a Play (her biggest rival being co-star Amy Morton), and Andy Blankenbuehler’s wonderful In the Heights choreography won over Rob Ashford’s impressive work for Cry-Baby.
Whoopi Goldberg was a great host for the night, and the show moved at a brisk pace. The fact that such major awards as Best Play Revival, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Choreography were not handed out during the televised broadcast was an embarrassment, but on the upside it did allow more time for musical performances. No doubt many viewers will be anxious to head to Broadway to see shows like Cry-Baby, Gypsy, Passing Strange, Xanadu, and Young Frankenstein after seeing their energetic performances on TV. To get discount tickets to see these Broadway shows, and many others, click here.
The Tony Awards, the annual honoring of Broadway’s best achievements, begins at 8pm on CBS tonight in a three-hour show hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. Some of the creative awards are being left off the TV telecast tonight, so Broadawy fans should point their browsers to www.TonyAwards.com at 7:15pm to see those being handed out. Visit that site at 6pm to watch the red carpet arrivals being webcast.
Generally the annual Tony Awards telecast only features musical numbers from currently nominated Broadway musicals, but this year’s Tony broadcast is also going to feature appearances by the casts of two formerly nominated Broadway shows, The Lion King and Rent. The Lion King‘s return performance is in honor of the long-running Broadway musical’s 10-year anniversary (the “Disney on Broadway” hit is still going strong and selling out regularly). For Rent, the return will be more bittersweet, since that 1996 Tony Award-winning Broadway phenomenon is finally calling it quits and closing its Broadway production in September. However, Rent has enjoyed a long and good life on Broadway, having played for over 12 years.
This morning the nominations for the 62nd Annual Tony Awards were announced by David Hyde Pierce (Broadway’s Curtains, TV’s Frasier) and Sara Ramirez (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, Broadway’s Spamalot), and the musical In the Heights came out on top with an impressive 13 nominations. Other musicals that did well were Passing Strange and the Broadway revivals of South Pacific and Sunday in the Park with George; August: Osage County fared particularly well among the plays. Given that all of these shows were well-reviewed, their success was expected, and today’s Tony nods actually yielded very few surprises. However, they have set up some pretty exciting contests for Tony night on June 15, when we’ll find out which Broadway shows and performers reign supreme. If you want to judge for yourself, make sure you see as many of the noms as possible before then. To get discount tickets to see nominees like Passing Strange, August, and Sunday, click here.
As she announced herself this morning on The View (which she co-hosts), Whoopi Goldberg will be the host of the 62nd Annual Tony Awards, which will broadcast live on CBS on June 15. Whoopi appeared on Broadway only a couple years ago in a solo show, and she also occasionally serves as a producer of Broadway shows. “I love Broadway and I’m thrilled to be doing anything for the first time,” she said about the Tony gig, “I’m gonna have a blast.”