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hat will be your memorable moment from the 59th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards to be broadcast live by loyal CBS from Radio City Music Hall over three hours tonight? Surely the acceptance speeches of this year's Best Actors could qualify.

The Awards, named to honor the late Broadway actress, producer and director, are presented by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers. Veteran Broadway producer and Theatre Hall of Fame member Elizabeth I. McCann is managing producer. Lead sponsors include VISA, IBM, TIAA CREF and SAAB. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are executive producers, with Weiss also directing.

Which plays moved you the most, and are they nominated? Which musicals entertained you the most, and are they nominated?

You may feel as one veteran Broadway watcher put it that this season saw musicals with "brilliant songs, but not necessarily brilliant books" or "very funny books but the score didn't add much."The bets are already in on the most hotly-contested of the 25 categories: Best Play, Best Musical, Best Actors, Best Actresses. Baring the unexpected, the winners in those four slots will be anti-climatic.

[And when was the last time there was an edge-of-the-seat upset where the underdog won over the multi-million dollar blockbuster?]

Will movie superhunk and now Tony-winning Broadway star for his rousing performance in The Boy from Oz Hugh Jackman, returning for the third year to host, make another spectacular entrance?

Those fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to have been in a backstage groove last June as he was preparing to mount Sally, the camel [usually only onstage in the make], watched in shock as a sudden bout of stage fright brought on, well, let's just call it a intestinal problem. As a couple of wranglers mopped the floor, another shouted up to Jackman, "Watch out for the _____!"

In a bow to CBS wanting to have more production numbers on the three-hour telecast, nine awards will be presented in a pre-telcast segment hosted by 2004 Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical Idina Menzel.

One way to "be" at the Tonys is to visit the official Tony Awards website ó http://www.tonyawards.com/ - presented by IBM. There's much information about nominees and nominated shows and plays as well as video, audio, trivia, a Tony archives and other features. Beginning at 6:15, you can watch red carpet arrivals, followed by Menzel handing out prizes to the Pre-Show Nine.

Marian Seldes at a luncheon for Tony nominees quoted Tennessee Williams: "The essential thing is that we work. If we are true to ourselves and to our partners in this remarkable art of theatre, we are rewarded, and it is not the prize you rememberÖbut the congregation of spirits who worked toward your shared goalÖ" She concluded with the comforting remark, "You were noticed. You matter."

Let's hope these words ring again in her munificent tones to the nominees in these categories: Best Orchestrations, Best Lighting Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Scenic Design of a Musical as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award to Edward Albee and the Best Regional Theatre Award, to Minneapolis' Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

_______________ EDWARD ALBEE _______________
To Receive A Tony for Lifetime Achievement

"I'm not interested in living in a city
where there isn't a production of Samuel Beckett running,"
said playwright Edward Albee at a Drama Desk panel.

The playwright burst onto the theatrical scene in the late 1950s with plays
detailing the agonies and disillusionment of the decade and the transition
to the turbulent 1960s. His themes, many in experimental form, startled
critics and audiences and changed the landscape of American drama.


After the splashy opening, there'll be production numbers from Best Musical nominees Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ["Great Big Stuff"]; The Light in the Piazza ["Statues and Stories"]; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee ["Serenity Prayer"]; and Monty Python's Spamalot ["Find Your Grail"] - as well as from Revival nominees Sweet Charity and La Cage aux Folles. [Pacific Overtures has closed.]

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, Law and Order's Jesse L. Martin, who first made a big impact in the original cast of Rent, and Broadway darlin' Bernadette Peters are set to perform.

Presenters will include Alan Alda, Joan Allen, Christina Applegate, Angela Bassett, Matthew Broderick, Mario Cantone, Don Cheadle, Marcia Cross, Sally Field, Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum, Ethan Hawke, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Laura Linney, Megan Mullally, David Hyde Pierce, Chita Rivera, Doris Roberts, Liev Schreiber, Tony Shaloub, Kathleen Turner and Leslie Uggams.

An unofficial award of the evening could be presented to Applegate for Spunkiest Broadway Newcomer, Most Courageous Broadway Star and for putting up money to make your dream to appear on Broadway come true.

__________________ THE BIG APPLEgate ___________________


Have you voted? If not, here's your opportunity.

And the 2005 Tony Award nominees are:

[HighlightsÖFor a complete listing of categories, visit www.tonyawards.com]

Best Play
Gem of the Ocean
The Pillowman

Best Musical

. . . . . . Dirty Rotten Scoundrels . . . . . . . . . .The Light in the Piazza . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Monty Python's Spamalot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Philip Bosco,
Twelve Angry Men
Billy Crudup, The Pillowman
Bill Irwin, Edward Albee's
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
James Earl Jones, On Golden Pond
Br"an F. O'Byrne, Doubt

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Cherry Jones, Doubt
Laura Linney,
Sight Unseen
Mary-Louise Parker,
Phylicia Rashad, Gem of the Ocean
Kathleen Turner, Edward Albee's
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Hank Azaria, Monty Python's Spamalot
Gary Beach, La Cage aux Folles
Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Tim Curry, Monty Python's Spamalot
John Lithgow,
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Christina Applegate,
Sweet Charity
Victoria Clark, The Light in the Piazza
Erin Dilly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sutton Foster,
Little Women
Sherie Rene Scott,
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Alan Alda, Glengarry Glen Ross
Gordon Clapp,
Glengarry Glen Ross
David Harbour, Edward Albee's
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Liev Schreiber,
Glengarry Glen Ross
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Pillowman

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Mireille Enos, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Heather Goldenhersh,
Dana Ivey, The Rivals
Adriane Lenox,
Amy Ryan, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Dan Fogler, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Marc Kudisch,
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Michael McGrath,
Monty Python's Spamalot
Matthew Morrison,
The Light in the Piazza
Christopher Sieber,
Monty Python's Spamalot

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Joanna Gleason,
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Celia Keenan-Bolger,
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Jan Maxwell,
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Kelli O'Hara, The Light in the Piazza
Sara Ramirez, Monty Python's Spamalot

_________ ....MORE 2005 NOMINEES :....._________

The cast of Doubt; Kathleen Turner, Bill Irwin in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?;
Christina Applegate, Sweet Charity; David Hyde Pierce, Spamalot; Victoria Clark,
The Light In the Piazza; Dan Folger and Celia Keenan-Bolger,
...Spelling Bee; the
Jones - Cherry of Doubt and James Earl of On Golden Pond.

Best Direction of a Play

John Crowley, The Pillowman
Scott Ellis,
Twelve Angry Men
Doug Hughes,
Joe Mantello,
Glengarry Glen Ross

Best Direction of a Musical
James Lapine,
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Mike Nichols, Monty Python's Spamalot
Jack O'Brien,
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Bartlett Sher,
The Light in the Piazza

Best Revival of a Play
Edward Albee's
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Glengarry Glen Ross
On Golden Pond
Twelve Angry Men

Best Revival of a Musical
La Cage aux Folles
Pacific Overtures
Sweet Charity
___________ THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE : ___________

in stiletto heels and fur in La Cage aux Folles
Best Choreography
Wayne Cilento,
Sweet Charity
Jerry Mitchell, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Jerry Mitchell, La Cage aux Folles
Casey Nicholaw, Monty Python's Spamalot

Best Book of a Musical
Jeffrey Lane, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Craig Lucas, The Light in the Piazza
Eric Idle,
Monty Python's Spamalot
Rachel Sheinkin,
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek
[Original Cast CD on Ghostlight Records]

The Light in the Piazza
Music and Lyrics: Adam Guettel
[Original Cast CD on Nonesuch Records]

Monty Python's Spamalot
Music: John Du Prez and Eric Idle; Lyrics: Eric Idle
[Original Cast CD on Decca Broadway]

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and Lyrics: William Finn
[Original Cast CD on Ghostlight Records]

Sondra Gilman is chair and Doug Leeds is president of the American Theatre Wing with Howard Sherman as executive director. The Shubert Organization's Gerald Schoenfeld is chair and Jed Bernstein is president of the League of American Theatres and Producers.

[Photos, in sequence from top : Anita and Steve Shevette; Aubrey Reuben/Playbill;
Paul Kolnik; Carol Rosegg 2; Joan Marcus 4; Carol Rosegg; Paul Kolnik;
Joan Marcus 2; Aubrey Reuben/Playbill 2; Carol Rosegg]




Toni was the nickname of beautiful Denver actress Antoinette Perry, who, after several years playing ingÈnues on Broadway, turned to producing and directing in an era when women in the theater were relegated to acting, costume design, or choreography. The success of the same named home permanent product that was the subject of a huge media blitz caused her to change the i to a y. When she decided to move from acting and become a producer and director, she became a theatrical trailblazer for women.

Amazingly, well into the 70s, Miss Perry was the only woman director with a track record of hits. Today, she's all but forgotten. In her prime, she showed innovative theatrical instincts and scored an enviable roster of hits - producing and often directing 17 plays in 13 years. In one month in 1937, according to her daughter Margaret, Miss Perry directed and produced three productions, "once rehearsing in our Fifth Avenue living room while peeling peaches for preserves."

Among her impressive hits were Personal Appearance [1934] and Claire Boothe's Kiss the Boys Goodbye [1938], a spoof of the search for Scarlett O'Hara for the film adaptation of Gone with the Wind. The latter had a stellar cast, including Benay Venuta, a perennial star of stage and screen [who died in 1995].

"Tony was rather a theatrical pioneer," said Miss Venuta, "in that she made a huge impact as a producer and director in an era of male theatrical powerbrokers. She was successful and success either earns you envy or respect. In Tony's case, it was both, but I never heard her criticized on the basis of being a woman."

in honor of the59th Annual TONY AWARDS

Clockwise : 1967: The first Tony Awards national telecast - Alexander H.
Cohen, telecast and Broadway producer[left], [his wife] Awards writer Hildy
Parks and director Clark Jones in ABC's mobile studio in Shubert Alley;
1967: Barbra Steisand, Joe Masteroff [left], John Kander and Fred Ebb pose in
the Sardi's press room. Streisand presented Tonys to the composers for Cabaret;
1972: Richard Rodgers and Ethel Merman are honored with special Tonys
after showstopping performances.

[Photos: ABC-TV, CHRISTOPHER LUKAS; The New York Times; ABC-TV
~ from the Collection of ELLIS NASSOUR]


Early awards to honor Antoinette Perry by making her the namesake of best in theater awards were engraved ladies' compact and cigarette cases. In 1949 a contest was held to select a special design. Herman Rosse won with a silver medallion that, on one side, features the masks of comedy and tragedy and, on the other, a profile of Miss Perry. Initially, they were presented in felt cases. Later, they were mounted on a swivel stand.

1. Who is the only Tony to have hosted the Tonys since the first national telecast in 1967?
A. Tony Bennett
B. Tony Curtis
C. Tony Quinn
D. Tony Randall

2. What is the shortest title of a Tony-winning play?
A. Da
B. Duh
C. Yah
D. Yep

3. Which actresses tied for the coveted Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1968?
A. Angela Lansbury, Dear World; and Dorothy Loudon, The Fig Leaves Are Falling
B. Barbara Harris, The Apple Tree; and Mary Martin,
I Do! I Do!
C. Patricia Routledge, Darling of the Day; and Leslie Uggams,
Hallelujah, Baby!
D. Julie Harris, Skyscraper; and Angela Lansbury,

4. In 2003, Vanessa Redgrave in Long Day's Journey Into Night became one of a handful of actresses to have won a Tony, an Emmy and an Oscar. Who else can boast membership in this award trifecta club?
A. Patty Duke
B. Rita Moreno
C. Suzanne Somers
D. Joanne Woodward

5. Three sets of family members have been Tony-nominated in the same category in the same year. Which duo below is not correct?
A. Richard Rodgers and daughter Mary Rodgers, 1960
B. Jason Robards and son Sam Robards, 1988
C. Lynn Redgrave and niece Natasha Richardson, 1993
D. Rosemary Harris and daughter Jennifer Ehle, 2000

[ Answers: 1. D; 2. A; 3. C; 4. B ; 5. B ]


Anyone interested in the archives of great performances from the early Tony Awards produced by Broadway impresario Alexander Cohen [through the 1986 Tonys] will enjoy excerpts from those telecasts presented on Broadway's Lost Treasures, Volumes 1 and 2.

Volume 3, due for broadcast on PBS in August and onsale from Acorn Productions in the DVD format in October, will feature 23 performances: the company of Merrick's 42nd Street ["We're In the Money"], Gwen Verdon performing "Whatever Lola Wants" from Damn Yankees along with, among others, an eight minute tribute to Ethel Merman, a Julie Andrews medley and numbers from Fossee, A Funny Thing..., How Now Dow Jones, Into the Woods, Kiss Me Kate, Peter Pan, Ragtime and West Side Story.


Ellis Nassour is an international media journalist, and author of Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, which he has adapted into a musical for the stage. Visit www.patsyclinehta.com.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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