2017 Tony Awards: Kevin, Bette, Christine, James Earl, Patti, and Stars Galore and Much More – Sunday, Live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall
By: Ellis Nassour
The 71st annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will have enough star power to light not only 50th Street and Avenue of the Americas but also all of Times Square. The Award will be telecast live on Sunday over three hours from Radio City Music Hall from 8 -11 P.M. (ET/PT time delay) on CBS. Like last year, there will be a lot of social media action throughout the program.
In quite a departure from recent telecasts, this year’s host, celebrated acclaimed Tony- Olivier- [two-time] Oscar- Golden Globe-, and BAFTA winner and (five-time) Emmy nominated actor Kevin Spacey, isn’t a musical comedy veteran – but, hopefully, as he did at the 2015 Oliver Awards, he will break into song – as he has been known to do [below]. The unpredictable Mr. Spacey may open the show with a “host” of nominees in a big production number — maybe even do a jig!
CBS, avidly promoting the Tonys as never before, in a loyal partnership with co-presenters the Broadway League and American Theatre Wing, has telecast the Tonys since 1978. The network will offer full Red Carpet arrivals beginning at 5 P.M., sponsored by Nordstrom.
The program, including the one-hour pre-telecast Creative Arts Awards and special honors portion, sponsored by City National Bank, can be seen on NY1 News as well as www.TonyAwards.com, developed and designed by IBM.
Remember the old M-G-M axiom: “More stars than there are in the heavens!” Well, the goal of the 2017 Tony Awards is to top that. There’ll be more stars than there are in the galaxy – and many of them will be singing and dancing!
Appearing will be nominees Denis Arndt, Denee Benton, Christian Borle, Chris Cooper, Christine Ebersole, Jennifer Ehle, Sally Field, Josh Groban, Corey Hawkins, Andy Karl, Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, Jefferson Mays, Laurie Metcalf, Bette Midler, Eva Noblezada, David Hyde Pierce, and Ben Platt.
Aligning to join this glittering group to celebrate Broadway’s biggest night are Scott Bakula, Sara Bareilles, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bloom, Glenn Close, Stephen Colbert, Brian d’Arcy James, Cynthia Erivo, Tina Fey, Sutton Foster, Josh Gad, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Mark Hamill, Taraji P. Henson, Christopher Jackson, Allison Janney, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Keegan-Michael Key, Nick Kroll, John Legend, John Lithgow, Patina Miller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Mulaney, Leslie Odom Jr., David Oyelowo, Chazz Palminteri, Sarah Paulson, Lea Salonga, Tom Sturridge, Tommy Tune, and Olivia Wilde.
Last year, there was the landmark and Pulitzer-winning Hamilton. People were saying, “How could the 2016-2017 season top that?” There were 20 musicals, which includes six revivals; 20 plays, 10 original and nine revivals; and special productions. There wasn’t another Hamilton, but there’s been plenty of excitement and diversity in a season of distinguished shows.
The casts of Bandstand, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, the Falsettos revival, Groundhog Day, Hello, Dolly!, Miss Saigon, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, and War Paint will perform. In addition, the Radio City Rockettes will be featured.
The Creative Arts Awards comprise seven categories ushered into the early first hour, not telecast, to make room for more entertainment. They are Scenic Design, Play and Musical; Costume Design, Play and Musical; Lighting Design, Play and Musical; and Orchestrations. Winners will be recapped on the broadcast. This segment and the special Tony honors can be watched at www.tonyawards.com.
The Tony Administration Committee is awarding a Special Tony for Lifetime Achievement to two-time Tony winner and Theatre World Award recipient James Earl Jones, who following in his father’s footsteps, made his Broadway debut in 1958 in Dore Schary’s Sunrise at Campobello, opposite Ralph Bellamy and Mary Fickett as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Kevin Spacey, who won the 1999 Best Actor Olivier and picked up a special award for his Outstanding Contribution to the Old Vic, where he was artistic director from 2004 -2015. In accepting the honor, he sang Bridge over Troubled Water with a full orchestra and choir.
He made his Broadway debut in 1982’sa short-lived production of Ibsen’s Ghosts; David Rabe’s Hurlyburly in 1984 (also a 1998 TV adaptation); 1986 revival, O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (also, a 1987 TV adaptation); Neil Simon’s Tony-winning Lost in Yonkers, 1991 (Tony, Featured Actor); 1999 revival, O’Neill’s Iceman Cometh (Tony nomination, Best Actor); and 2007’s revival of O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten.
Classic screen roles include Swimming with Sharks (1994), Usual Suspects (1995; Oscar, Featured Actor), L.A. Confidential (1997), American Beauty (1999; Oscar, Best Actor); and TV’s 2013-present House of Cards (reaping four Emmy nominations).
Tony telecast veterans Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment return as executive producers of the Awards; with Weiss also directing.
At the Broadway League, Robert E. Wankel is chair and Charlotte St. Martin is president; at the American Theater Wing, David Henry Hwang is chair and Heather A. Hitchens is president.
“It’s Broadway’s biggest event,” says Ms. St. Martin, “and, rightly so. It will be a starry, starry night seen in 45 countries (which include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the world-wide Armed Forces TV Network). We welcome our friend Kevin Spacey to an illustrious roster of Tony hosts.”
In the United Kingdom, Olivier-winning Elaine Paige will host a special program on BBC Radio 2, which will include telecast performances. The Tonys will be seen throughout Canada live and time-delayed. In many countries, the Awards will be seen within a week of the event.
Ms. Hitchens, adds, “There’s nothing like celebrating Broadway’s biggest night, with Broadway’s biggest fans.”
During the telecast, for behind-the-scenes coverage she recommends visiting www.TonyAwards.com/secondscreen. Follow the Tonys at Facebook.com/ theTonyAwards, @theTonyAwards on Twitter, and Instagram.com/ theTonyAwards. Join the conversation using the hashtags #TonyAwards2017 and #TheatreInspires.
Additional sponsors for the 2017 Tonys include: Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever higher education partner; Grant Thornton LLP – Tony’s official accounting services partner; Sofitel New York – official Tony hotel; the Rainbow Room; United Airlines – official Tony airline, and People/Entertainment Weekly magazines.
For a complete list of the nominations, a ballot to pick your choice for winner, video features and interviews, trivia, and a history of the Awards and the Awards namesake Antoinette Perry, go to www.TonyAwards.com.
2017 Tony Award Nominations Highlights:
Have you voted? Placed your bets?
A Doll’s House, Part 2, Lucas Hnath
Indecent, Paula Vogel
Oslo, J.T. Rogers
Sweat, Lynn Nottage
Come From Away, Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Dear Evan Hansen, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Groundhog Day, Tim Minchin
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy
Actor, Leading Role, Play:
Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Jefferson Mays, Oslo
Actress, Leading Role, Play:
Cate Blanchett, The Present
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Actor, Leading Role, Musical:
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Actress, Leading Role, Musical:
Denee Benton, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Actor, Featured Role, Play:
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Danny DeVito, The Price
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes
John Douglas Thompson, Jitney
Actress, Featured Role, Play:
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
Condola Rashad, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Michelle Wilson, Sweat
Actor, Featured Role, Musical:
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos
Actress, Featured Role, Musical:
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia
Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!
Come From Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Jitney, August Wilson
The Little Foxes, Lillian Hellman
Present Laughter, Noel Coward
Six Degrees of Separation, John Guare
Come From Away, Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Dear Evan Hansen, Steven Levenson
Groundhog Day, Danny Rubin
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy
Falsettos, William Finn; Book, Finn and James Lapine
Hello, Dolly!, Jerry Herman; Book, Michael Stewart
Miss Saigon, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Richard Marltby Jr.; Book, Boublil
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn
Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Recipients of Special Tony Awards and Honors:
Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award:
Baayork Lee, original cast, The King and I; A Chorus Line: dancer, singer, choreographer
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre:
General managers, Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser
Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
James Earl Jones
Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers, The Encounter
For more information including the full list of nominees, a meet-the-host feature, photo gallery, multimedia, trivia, and the history of the Awards, visit www.TonyAwards.com.
Read about Tony Awards namesake, Antoinette Perry:
Who’s This Tony?