Theatre Lover's Journal for June 1999:

The 1999 Tony Awards

by John Kenrick

All in all, it was a pretty dull Tony Awards – unless of course you happened to be one of the winners. No matter how you try to rationalize, it was a godawful season for the musical theatre. The century in which Broadway musicals flourished ends with the art form in pretty wretched shape.

The awards themselves help prove my point. Best Score and Book went to a show that closed months ago due to sheer public disinterest, and Best Musical went to a show that's not really a new show – just a hodgepodge of bits from a old shows and movies, a sort of super-revival. All four musical acting awards went to revivals. As for Matthew Bourne, who won best director and choreographer for Swan Lake, he said it best himself: "I'm absolutely astonished – it isn't even a musical."

The ceremony had some interesting moments. It was great to see Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett together again, especially since they made this an opportunity for Julie to sing a few reassuring snippets for her fans. (Must we wait another decade for these two to do another special together? Surely Julie could risk that sort of effort, and it would be a guaranteed ratings hit.) Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur are no less legendary a team, but neither was at her best as they stumbled through two bars of "Bosom Buddies."

It is disgusting that they cut the excepts from It Ain't Nothin But the Blues – like the black musical is the one they can skip for time? I think those producers have a dandy lawsuit to consider. The musical excepts from the other musicals and revivals were pleasant enough – I was very happy to see that the only one to stop the show was Peter Pan's "I'm Flying." It seems the good stuff still wins out. And how delightful to see Kristin Chenoweth strut her stuff, showing the whole country what people have been buzzing about.

Aside from the musicals (you mean there really is something aside from musicals?), it was a glorious night for Arthur Miller and Death of a Salesman. I was moved to tears when Elizabeth Franz won her well-deserved and long overdue Tony. She is one of the finest actresses I know, one who has spent a lifetime perfecting her craft and turning in so many memorable stage performances. It was impossible not to be swept up in the emotion of her triumph. The same goes for her wonderful co-star Brian Dennehy, who gave one of the most charming acceptance speeches of the evening. These veterans, as well as Miller himself, were reminders that nothing can replace talent and a tenacious commitment to the theatre.

Some diverse observations:

Here's a complete list of the regular awards. The winners are in bold and marked with an asterisk (*):

Best New Musical:
The Civil War
It Ain't Nothing But the Blues

Best Revival of a Musical:
Annie Get Your Gun*
Little Me
Peter Pan
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Best Revival of a Play:
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller*
Electra by Euripides
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Best Book of a Musical
Footloose, Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie
It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues, Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Ron Taylor & Dan Wheetman
Marlene, Pam Gems
Parade, Alfred Uhry*

Best Original Score
Footloose, Tom Snow, Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins & Jim Steinman
Parade, Jason Robert Brown*
The Civil War, Frank Wildhorn & Jack Murphy
Twelfth Night, Jeanine Tesori

Best Direction Of A Musical
Matthew Bourne, Swan Lake*
Richard Maltby, Jr. & Ann Reinking, Fosse
Michael Mayer, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Harold Prince, Parade

Best Orchestrations
Ralph Burns & Douglas Besterman, Fosse*
David Cullen, Swan Lake
Don Sebesky, Parade
Harold Wheeler, Little Me

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Brent Carver, Parade
Adam Cooper, Swan Lake
Martin Short, Little Me *
Tom Wopat, Annie Get Your Gun

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Carolee Carmello, Parade
Dee Hoty, Footloose
Bernadette Peters, Annie Get Your Gun*
Si'n Phillips, Marlene

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Roger Bart, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown*
Desmond Richardson, Fosse
Ron Taylor, It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues
Scott Wise, Fosse

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Gretha Boston, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues
Kristin Chenoweth, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown*
Valarie Pettiford, Fosse
Mary Testa, On the Town

Best Choreography
Patricia Birch, Parade
Matthew Bourne, Swan Lake*
A.C. Ciulla, Footloose
Rob Marshall, Little Me

Best New Play:
Closer by Patrick Marber
Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh
Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams
Side Man by Warren Leight *

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Brian Dennehy, Death of a Salesman*
Br'an O'Byrne, The Lonesome West
Corin Redgrave, Not About Nightingales
Kevin Spacey, The Iceman Cometh

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Stockard Channing, The Lion in Winter
Judi Dench, Amy's View*
Marian Seldes, Ring Round the Moon
Zo' Wanamaker, Electra

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Kevin Anderson, Death of a Salesman
Finbar Lynch, Not About Nightingales
Howard Witt, Death of a Salesman
Frank Wood, Side Man *

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Claire Bloom, Electra
Samantha Bond, Amy's View
Dawn Bradfield, The Lonesome West
Elizabeth Franz, Death of a Salesman*

Best Scenic Design
Bob Crowley, The Iceman Cometh
Bob Crowley, Twelfth Night
Riccardo Hernandez, Parade
Richard Hoover, Not About Nightingales*

Best Costume Design
Lez Brotherston, Swan Lake*
Santo Loquasto, Fosse
John David Ridge, Ring Round the Moon
Catherine Zuber, Twelfth Night

Best Lighting Design
Andrew Bridge, Fosse*
Mark Henderson, The Iceman Cometh
Natasha Katz, Twelfth Night
Chris Parry, Not About Nightingales

Best Direction Of A Play
Howard Davies, The Iceman Cometh
Robert Falls, Death of a Salesman*
Garry Hynes, The Lonesome West
Trevor Nunn, Not About Nightingales

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