Nominations for the 63rd annual Tony Awards will be announced bright and early Tuesday morning by Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon and In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. You can bet that the two former Tony winners (she got it for Rabbit Hole, he for Heights, which will hit South Florida next season) will look impossibly perky that ungodly hour when most normal theater folk are still fast asleep.
Jumping the gun in several non-competitive categories, the Tony folks on Monday announced the winners of four special awards. The prestigious 2009 Tony for Lifetime Achievement goes to the University of Miami's own Jerry Herman, whose string of Broadway hits as a composer-lyricist includes Hello, Dolly! and Mame and La Cage aux Folles. Herman, for whom UM's Ring Theatre is now named, is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he has already collected Tonys for Dolly! and La Cage. But this one has to be special.
Each year, the American Theatre Critics' Association offers the Tony committee a recommendation for the Regional Theatre Tony Award. This year's winner is the Signature Theatre of Arlington, Va. Under the artistic leadership of Eric Schaeffer, the 20-year-old company has turned its suburban Washington D.C. home into a place where new musicals are developed and where established musicals are freshly interpreted -- the work of Stephen Sondheim in particular.
Also being honored at this year's Tonys is actress Phyllis Newman, who receives the new Isabelle Stevenson Award for her work raising more than $3.5 million for the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actor's Fund of America. And press agent Shirley Herz, a theater publicist for more than half a century, receives the Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
The Tonys will be broadcast from Radio City Music Hall on CBS-TV from 8 to 11 p.m. June 7. For more information on the awards and nominations, visit the Tony Awards web site.