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Talkin' Broadway V.J.

Awards Season Begins

It's springtime which means it's Awards time. The Outter Critics Circle Awards nominations were recently announced and this will be followed by many other different awarders including the Drama Desk and the Tonys. Many feel that most of the awards are rather meaningless, especially the Outter Critics. Other than stroking a few egos and adding some bio info in Playbills, I can't see much value in awards, except for the Tonys, of course.

And, the Tonys are the most controversial too. Each year the nominating committee is either damned when they do or damned when they don't. They must decide who is eligible for which acting category, or which play is a play and which musical is a musical. Should be a simple job, right? But, it never is and that's half the fun of the Tonys.

The biggest flack was over Contact being made eligible for the Best Musical category. Faster than a speeding bullet, the committee was attacked by the musician's union because no new music was created for Contact and, of course, there are no musicians employed in the Lincoln Center production. A pre-recorded soundtrack is used instead.

Riverdance is a musical too! And the lead dancers can be considered for Best Actor or Actress in a musical. I suppose a musical doesn't need a book either.

Swing can be nominated in the Best Musical category even though its' music, or most of it, comes out of the 1940's big band era.

Dame Edna can't be nominated for anything, but perhaps, a nod with a special award. Meanwhile, Jackie Mason, doing a stand-up comedy show, will be considered for zip. The show, or its producers, didn't invite the Tony voters, thus saving around $70,000.00 in complimentary tickets. The very funny Mr. Mason doesn't, obviously, need any awards; his fans flock to his shows year after year. Even so, his show is simply stand-up schtick, while Dame Edna is a character created by Barry Humpries, and it's the season's comedy hit. Go figure!

And those actors in True West created their own special problem by switching roles every few performances. Of course, it was dumped on the committee to consider a dual nomination. No way was the verdict. Now, if they were joined at the hip that would have been another matter.

Then, of course, there are always actors being placed in categories they shouldn't be. To theatre-goers it's obvious who is a lead and who isn't. But to Producers, it's another story. Year after year, the committee receives requests to place a lead in the Best or Best Supporting category, or vice versa. Rather than go into names here, I'm sure all of you can cite examples. Why billing over the title has anything to do with it I'll never know. Here's a paradox for you. Joel Grey won the Tony in 1967 for Best Featured Actor in a musical (Cabaret). In the very same role 31 year later, Alan Cumming won the Tony for Best Actor in a musical.

The bottom line with a Tony is that it's a marketing tool, and that's why it's more important than any other award. The advertising value is enormous, and to actors and actresses, in addition to receiving the honor, it's an immediate pay raise!

Each year we handicap the Tonys, criticize the committee and the Producers, and, of course, state that most awards are meaningless and worthless. And that's how I feel...but I might be whistling a different tune if the Outter Critics came up with a Best Broadway Theatre Website category. ;)

Tony nominations will be announced May 8 at Sardi's and the awards show is slated for June 4th.


  • Sandi Durell's Just Me and My Friends' Cabaret has moved from The Garrick Bistro to the roomier and grander Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Every other Sunday, beginning April 30th, Sandi invites her Broadway and cabaret performer friends to join her in her cabaret show. The line-up for the 30th is Mark Nadler, Rebecca Spencer, and recent MAC Award-winner Richard Skipper. Phillip Officer, Donna Lynne Champlin (The Dead), Teri Lynn Paul, Susan Baum, Anthony Inneo, and 14 year old Rory Kress-Weisbord complete the line-up. Musical director is Ken Gould. Cover is only $10. plus a 1 drink minimum. Showtime - Sundays at 7:30 PM. Information (212) 724-3566. Reservations (212) 362-2590.

  • Those clever P.R. people! In Sunday's New York Times, Jesus Christ Superstar uses a pull-quote from Ben Brantley's New York Times review - "A Chain of Virtuosic Songs." And we all know the Times review was a major pan. Here's the actual quote: "Superstar works better as a chain of virtuosic songs than as a sustained piece of theatre."

  • A light has dimmed on Broadway. Alexander Cohen passed away. He had produced more than a hundred shows between Broadway and the West End. Currently he's represented on the boards with Waiting in the Wings. It's sad to think that at one time a great man like Cohen produced many Broadway shows, and now they're done by a mouse. God bless you Alex. You'll be long remembered.

  • Caught The Scarlet Pimpernel tour the other week in San Francisco. Loads of fun and Douglas Sills looks like he's still having a ball. On that same trip I caught Richard Skipper in his MAC Award winning performance in An Evening with Carol Channing. Richard does an uncanny impersonation. Catch him sometime, you'll have a ball. It's a lot of fun and also a lovely tribute to the great Carol Channing.

  • Yesterday, on an uptown subway platform, a 4 1/2 foot horse stood at one end of the station waiting for an uptown train. The horse's owner had just collected him from the cast of Annie Get Your Gun. The pony was a prop in The Capeman, the previous tenant of the theatre. The auction on eBay earned $1,000. which the cast donated to BC/EFA. Ride 'em cowgirl!

  • Vacationing Matron Mama Morton, Marcia Lewis, (Chicago) was spotted strolling Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy the other day. I hear it's her favorite city on earth. Mine too! Marcia will be doing her cabaret show onboard the Seabourn Viking Sun. The show is part of the Theatre Guild's Theatre At Sea program and Marcia's ol' college chum, Lee Roy Reams, is entertainment director for the Guild. After a few weeks on the high seas, Matron Mama returns home to the Shubert Theatre.

See you Thursday!

Special for our Readers: If you're heading over to Roundabout's production of the hit Cabaret at Studio 54, click HERE for a Talkin' Broadway discount through April 30, 2000.

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