Onscreen May 18 at the Paley Center for Media
By: Ellis Nassour
The Tony Awards are June 9, telecast live in a three-hour frame by CBS from Radio City Music Hall and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. However, you don’t have to wait that long for a taste of past Tonys and a classic color telecast of a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. The Third Annual Tony Awards Film Series is May 18 at the Paley Center for Media.
Screening at 12:30 P.M. in the Goodson Theatre is a rarely seen tape of the 1971 Tony Awards which celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Awards, named in honor of actress/producer/director Antoinette Perry. It was the year of Sondheim’s Company; and the first time with the exit of original star, Dean Jones, shortly after the opening, that his replacement, Larry Kert [West Side Story], was Tony-nominated for Best Actor, Musical. It was a sparse season for musicals with only two others nominated: The Me Nobody Knows and The Rothchilds. Producing was the legendary Alexander Cohen.
Stars recreating their original roles sang songs from 24 previous Tony-winning Best Musicals. Vivian Blaine and Sam Levene performed from Guys and Dolls; Yul Brynner and Patricia Morison, The King and I; Carol Channing, Hello, Dolly!; Alfred Drake, Kismet and Kiss Me, Kate; Paul Lynde, Bye Bye Birdie; Robert Morse, How to Succeed…; Zero Mostel, Fiddler on the Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Robert Preston, The Music Man; John Raitt, The Pajama Game; Gwen Verdon, Can-Can, Damn Yankees and Redhead ; and, among others, David Wayne, Finian’s Rainbow.
For the finale, hosts Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Anthony Quayle, and Anthony Quinn, joined by the company created an unforgettable moment, rendering Irving Berlin’s "There’s No Business Like Show Business" to thunderous applause.
At 3 P.M., in the Bennack Theatre, another rarity will screen: Armstrong Circle Theatre’s adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, broadcast on ABC in 1967. Presented collaboration with Opera Index, it was headlined by Robert Goulet as Billy Bigelow and Mary Grover as Julie Jordan with verteran character actor Charlie Ruggles as the Starkeeper.
Following the screening, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Ted Chapin will moderate a panel with Miss Grover, who went into TV (becoming a regular on Love America Style), film, records, and stage roles such as co-starring in the West Coast premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. She then launced a successful career as a voice instructor (speech training, vocal technique and therapy) to the stars. Joining her will be dancers Bambi Linn (Louise, original Broadway Carousel) and Gemze de Lappe. Both dancers had a long association with Carousel choreographer, the groundbreaking Agnes de Mille. Ms. Linn will be seen dancing Carousel’s Act II "Ballet" on film-transferred-to video.
The Tony screening is free for Paley Center members, and free with general admission to the public (a donation of $10 for adults is suggested; $8 for students/senior citizens; and $5 for children under 14). Seating is limited. Tickets are be available on a first come, first serve basis. Tickets are required for the Carousel event. They are $10 for members and $15 to the public. To RSVP for either event please contact: FilmSeries@TonyAwards.com.