The Odd Relationship between Bernadette Peters and the Tony Awards

Paul W. Thompson
Broadway Legend
joined:11/29/07
I think Bernadette Peters has an odd relationship with the Tony Awards. To wit:

She has won two: for SONG AND DANCE and for the revival of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. While the win for SONG AND DANCE was richly deserved and widely predicted, was it not also felt at the time that voters were making up for her not winning for SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, a role for which she was nominated, and for which she is more remembered today? And oddly, the role which she took after SONG AND DANCE, the Witch in INTO THE WOODS, gave her another role for which she is very well remembered, but for which she was not nominated at all.

Her win for AGYG was somewhat surprising, as she perhaps not ideally cast in the role, and, as it turns out, saw her replacement in the role, Reba McEntire, receive glowing notices and spark discussion of a Tony category for replacement performers. That situation was replicated when Bernadette replaced the Tony-winning Catherine Zeta-Jones in the revival of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, receiving even better notices than the Tony winner received.

Her other recent Broadway appearances, in the revivals of GYPSY and FOLLIES, saw her nominated for another Merman role for which she was cast against type, and then not nominated for a role in which she was somewhat ill-cast, but delivered a knock-out performance of the role's best-known song ("Losing My Mind").

Regarding her early work, she was not nominated for GEORGE M! (for which she is still well remembered), but was nominated for the revival of ON THE TOWN (for which she is not so well remembered). And at least she was nominated for MACK AND MABEL (well remembered, and perhaps should have won). And she was also nominated for THE GOODBYE GIRL later in her career, for which perhaps she should not have been.

It seems that since SITPWG (and arguably since MAM), she has been a Broadway star of the first rank. Roles were written for her, revivals were built around her, and shows stayed open because of her. And yet, looking at her career, Tony has been fickle. And this year, the Tonys presented her with the Isabelle Stevenson Award, for which she is imminently qualified (Broadway Barks) and highly praised. But aren't these sort of awards given to people who are almost done with their charitable acts? I'm sure that she is far from done!

So, in retrospect, she didn't win for her roles in MACK AND MABEL and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, and wasn't even nominated for roles in GEORGE M!, INTO THE WOODS, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and FOLLIES, all of which are shows with which she will forever be identified. Her wins for SONG AND DANCE and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN are somewhat asterisked, in my view, though she was certainly fine enough in both, and clearly a star. And her nominations for ON THE TOWN, THE GOODBYE GIRL and GYPSY do seem somewhat peculiar, given some of the reception those shows received.

Or am I wrong? Is this the experience of every big star?

I mean, everyone loves her. She's Bernadette Peters! But her relationship to the Tony Awards (or rather, their relationship to her) just strikes me as very odd. Thoughts?
qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
I have thought about this before...it is unfortunate that she hasn't won a Tony Award for any of her apparently (at least in hindsight) truly great performances. But I think it is more just unfortunate timing with competition or dates of show openings etc.. than any real agenda (except for FOLLIES, where a lack of nomination suggests her performance was deliberately ignored by the committee...which I do find puzzling because I think her performance of "In Buddy's Eyes" (more so than her "Losing My Mind") is among the best singing/acting combination she has ever done (or I have seen anyone do), along with her recent "Send in the Clowns"). I also don't think this is the experience of 'every big star'. LuPone won two Tonys for the two performances she is probably best known for. Lansbury won Tonys for practically everything but still they were performances she is well known for (e.g. MAME, SWEENEY TODD). And they are not 'big stars' but actresses like Donna Murphy, Christine Ebersole, Alice Ripley etc.. have all won Tony Awards for the roles they are known for in PASSION/GREY GARDENS/NEXT TO NORMAL respectively.

With her replacing CZJ in NIGHT MUSIC and Mazzie replacing Ripley in NEXT TO NORMAL it would have been a great time to introduce a replacement award (even though I would have probably given it to Mazzie..again just unfortunate competition for Bernadette).

Of course I often fantasise that Bernadette's career will regress to the earlier stages by starring in a new Sondheim show...a new vehicle like KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN was for Chita, perhaps.

That said, it would be nice for any ageing Broadway diva to star in a new show. When is Patti LuPone going to get her next new musical vehicle? Will Chita and THE VISIT ever make it to Broadway?





Updated On: 6/21/12 at 01:09 AM
Paul W. Thompson
Broadway Legend
joined:11/29/07
Thank you, qolbinau! Glad to know that this stuff keeps other people awake at night, too........
BroadwayFan12
Leading Actor
joined:4/17/10
I've also thought about this. She didn't deserve the win for AGYG and should have won for Gypsy instead. I still can't believe she didn't win for SITPWG.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Paul,

I think her nominations for On the Town, Gypsy and Goodbye Girl were all deserved. If she had won for the first two, the awards would have been wholly merited. I believe she deserved a nomination for La Strada as well.

That she was not nominated for Follies was a petty slap, that's all. A power trip, if you will. Sure, why not stick it to a wonderful performer who acted the hell out of the role, and who has also been tireless in her charitable efforts?

Real nice world we live in.
wonderfulwizard11
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/05
Or, you know, it's possible that they simply didn't like Bernadette in the role. They certainly wouldn't be the only ones.

And given that Bernadette received an award for those charitable efforts you mention, it hardly seems like the Tony people were trying to "stick it to her", as you say. I know this may shock you, but sometimes people don't get nominated because the people doing the nominating simply didn't like the performance. But I suppose it's a lot more fun to assign some stupid ulterior motive to it instead.
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.
ticenewyorkcity
Featured Actor
joined:1/13/05
And for which perhaps and such as and perhaps for which.
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04

That she was not nominated for Follies was a petty slap, that's all. A power trip, if you will. Sure, why not stick it to a wonderful performer who acted the hell out of the role


WOW!! I agree with After Eight??? It was a clear snub.
#sadandtransparent
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Wizard,

A little less naiveté, if you please.

wonderfulwizard11
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/05
I just don't understand how not thinking Bernadette's lack of a nomination was some vast conspiracy. Simply put, her performance was viewed by many as uneven at best, and she certainly had a great deal of trouble singing the role. Why is it so surprising she wasn't nominated? She's a legend, but that doesn't mean she automatically deserves a nomination.
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
^

Now, let's see. Her performance was more nuanced than that of the other three stars of the show. All of them were nominated. She was not.

Her performance was certainly better than that of Laura Osnes in Bonnie and Clyde. Osnes was nominated. Peters was not.

These sort of "we'll-show-the-world-who's-boss" stick-it-to-'em snubs happen every year. This year, they got a prize plum.

Have you been following the theatre for any length of time?

Updated On: 6/21/12 at 03:05 AM
ABB2357
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/09
She should have won for GYPSY, and her work in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is a textbook example of why there should be a Tony for replacements.

I agree it's interesting that the NIGHT MUSIC situation is the reverse of Bernadette being replaced by the better-received (despite her Tony win) Reba McEntire in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.
jimmycurry01
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/05
These sort of "we'll-show-the-world-who's-boss" stick-it-to-'em snubs happen every year. This year, they got a prize plum.

I Love Bernadette, but her performance this time around was not widely appreciated. It is still possible that just enough Tony voters really didn't care for her performance enough to give her the nod. Just because you think Laura Osnes didn't deserve the nod doesn't mean everyone else feels the same way.
Now I am not saying that politics don't play into these decisions, nor am I saying that politics weren't at fault in this case. You still have to concede that both politics and a performance that was not universally liked are possibilities for her lack of a nomination. The truth is we don't know the reason her performance is Follies was overlooked, and we never will.
AnythingGoes23
Broadway Star
joined:11/21/11
She should have won for Mack and Mabel (a show that should have a number of awards) and Sunday.

In my opinion, her being snubbed for Follies was deserved. I didn't think her performance was good at all sadly and if anything made the show unbearably slow, i dont think she will be remember in this role at all. Losing My Mind was a big let down too which was surprising giving how well she performs it at her concerts. She just massively over thought the character instead of being it.
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
I'm gonna have to go with wizard here. A conspiracy? Doesn't the nominating committee change each year? It's not like there is some cabal of people who are out to snub Bernadette.


She didn't make the cut this year. It happens. Her performance was equally loved and loathed. There was some very stiff competition.

Her Mama Rose was also polarizing to many.

But I think that ticenewyorkcity summed it up particularly well when he said:

And for which perhaps and such as and perhaps for which.

You can't argue with that.





....but the world goes 'round
Updated On: 6/21/12 at 06:22 AM
amoni2
Featured Actor
joined:3/4/06
Bernadette Peters has had a successful career for forty plus years. She is known world wide, either through stage, movies or TV. She has won a Golden Globe and been Emmy nominated. She is theater royalty with two Tony's. Another couple of pieces of tin on the mantle wouldn't matter a thing to her career. Sometimes fans put more importance on awards than actual performers do.
adamgreer
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/05
The thing about her Tony for Annie Get Your Gun is that she didn't deserve that one. The divine Carolee Carmello should have won in a landslide that year.

Incidentally, despite my preference for LuPone's Rose, I would have voted for Peters to win over Winokur that particular year.

Bernadette's Desiree was great in the early going, but the longer that run went on, the more unhinged she became. By the end, it was extremely "Bernadette-y." Her Clowns, however, was never anything less than perfection.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them"
~Walt Disney

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
~Walt Disney

My name is neither "adam" nor "greer."
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Bernadette Peters is a great star and a great performer. Extremely popular and beloved. She has two tony awards. I have no issue with her not being nominated for Into the Woods or Follies. She gave a good performance in Into the Woods, but giving a good performance should not or does not guarantee a tony nomination (although in some seasons it would appear that all one has to do is give an eligible performance to get a nomination, that should not be the model for tony consideration). I didn't like her performance in Follies and while many people loved it, many people did not; so it is not a big surprise that she did not receive a nomination especially in a season such as this in which there were several acclaimed performances which were nominated. I have no issue with her not having won for Gypsy. And while her Annie Oakley may not have been as great as McIntyre's, I and many others loved her performance (and certainly there was no possibility of comparing her to McIntyre at the time when she opened as Annie and at the time when she won - not to suggest that such a comparison would have been justified in not giving Peters the award). It may well be that there was a bit of an overdue factor in her winning over Carmello, but that is the nature of awards. In any event I don't see her tony for Annie as undeserved (I can not say the same for the tony for Jones's Desiree, which was, IMHO, not deserved; whereas Peters was marvelous when she took over, giving what for me is her greatest performance).

I don't think she has been at all abused by the tony's. Far from it. If anything, the tony's have been as far as I can tell quite judicious and selective when it comes to the Peters performances it has nominated honored. They have actually meant something, which is not always the case with the tony's or with any award for that matter.

More importantly, it is my impression that Peters has always taken risks, done her work, and let the chips fall where they might with a realistic understanding that awards are wonderful but something to which she is not entitled or is unduly concerned with. i am sure she realized she gave a great performance in Sunday, but does not begrudge Chita Rivera winning for The Rink or think the Tony's robbed her in awarding another great star, long overdue for a tony, who had given a highly acclaimed performance.

For many stars the unevenness of the quality of their work is a deficit. It shows a lack of discipline or commitment. I have found it to be the opposite with Peters. I see her career triumphs and less thans as a tribute to her taking huge risks. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, although of course she has fans who love everything she does, and more power to them. My point is that while I have not always responded to her work, I have never thought that she was going through the motions or writing a performance in and I've never thought she had done less than give her all to her audience. I have a great deal of respect for her for making strong choices and delivering, with her work always making a vivid impression. But that's not the same as her work always being her best, let alone it succeeding enough to merit a tony.









Updated On: 6/21/12 at 07:34 AM
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
On some websites you get conspiracy theories about plots to murder JFK.

On other websites you get conspiracy theories about plots to bring down the World Trade Center.

On BroadwayWorld you get conspiracy theories about plots to deprive Bernadette Peters of Tony awards.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Didn't Peters remove herself from consideration for "Into the Woods," because she was only in it a few months? I didn't think that was a snub by the committee.

Similar things have happened for Oscars. Paul Newman has given dozens of indelible screen performances. He was nominated many times ... and won his only Oscar for "The Color of Money," a sequel to "The Hustler." WTF?
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
luckyleo81
Swing
joined:6/21/12
A little of topic, but I was just thinking about this type of thing with the Tracey Bennet/Nina Arianda discussion for Best Actress in a Play. Although Tracey seemed to be the lead I couldn't imagine that the Tony committee wouldn't want to tie Arianda to the Tonys and Venus in Fur as her starmaking role, like I have a feeling they regret doing with Bernadette and Sunday in the Park with George (not necessarily her first starmaking role but one all the same) and Streisand with Funny Girl.
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
I always thought Nina was a front-runner in Best Actress in a Play.
E.Davis
Broadway Legend
joined:1/1/08
What Best said, she either pulled herself or just wasn't eligible because she was in the show for such a short period of time that TONY voters did not get to see her.
"I think lying to children is really important, it sets them off on the right track" -Sherie Rene Scott-
EponineAmneris
Broadway Legend
joined:5/25/06
^^^ Well said, henrikegerman!!! I agree 100%. And as always, best12bars makes a great point and brings up something new and valid.

I love this thread and I love Bernie.
"TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD"- LES MISERABLES--- "THERE'S A SPECIAL KIND OF PEOPLE KNOWN AS SHOW PEOPLE... WE'RE BORN EVERY NIGHT AT HALF HOUR CALL!"--- CURTAINS
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Thanks Eponine. As to Arianda's performance in VENUS IN FUR, it was a tony award worthy performance if I've ever seen one. It is a starmaking performance, and with good reason. My only comment is that the performance is so brilliant that for many it masks the brilliance of last season's best play (although I realize that many genuinely disagree about its merits).
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
This theory seems so out there that next, people will be saying that Raul Esparza lost his Tony for Company because Bernadette was the presenter.

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