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Dear Playbill . . .

Dear PLAYBILL: Can you tell me where and when the first Tony Award ceremony was held?
-Darla Nunzio
Tampa, Fl.

The first Tony Awards were made at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.

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Dear PLAYBILL: When the late Gower Champion won a Tony Award for The Happy Time, he made an amusing comment about the critic Clive Barnes, but I can't remember what he said.
-Benjamin J. McCloskey
Clifton, N.J.

In 1968, Gower Champion won two Tonys one for direction and one for choreography for The Happy Time. When accepting his Tony for choreography, Mr. Champion said: "I don't know how to break this to Clive Barnes." (Mr. Barnes, in his review of this musical, criticized Champion for attempting to do a "proper ballet" in the show. "Mr. Champion might do best," he wrote, "to stick to staging at which he is a master and leave choreography to someone else.")

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Dear PLAYBILL: Some letters have appeared in Dear PLAYBILL about shows, such as the current musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, that allow the audience to vote for the murderer. Back in 1937, at the Imperial Theatre (where Edwin Drood is housed), there was a musical called Between the Devil about a bigamist who had a wife in 

[[box]] MASTER THEATRE QUIZ - #5
What famous choreographer has stated that "Commitment brings substance to dance"? (a) Jerome Robbins (b) Twyla Tharp (c) Gower Champion [[/box]]


London and another in France. At the end of the show, the audience was asked to decide which wife he should keep and which he should renounce.
-Nick Sedelnik
Stratford, Ct.

That's correct. We thank you for refreshing our memory about that Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz musical.

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Dear PLAYBILL: In the February Dear PLAYBILL column, you answered a question about the origin of the term "Break a leg" - that it started in Germany as a good luck wish on opening nights. I have heard that the saying is related to the bending (i.e., "breaking") of the leg during an actor's bow. "Break a leg," therefore, conveys a wish for much applause, and hence, reason to bow.
-Karen K. Jacobsen
New Haven, Ct.

There are numerous explanations for the derivation of this theatrical greeting. The one we quoted was published in Supernatural on Stage by Richard Huggett.

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Dear PLAYBILL: In the PLAYBILL for Jesus Christ Superstar at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in 1971, Harvey Milk is listed as the assistant to the show's director, Tom O'Horgan. Is this possibly the same Harvey Milk who was murdered by Dan White in San Francisco and who is remembered in the play Execution of Justice, recently at the Virginia Theatre?
-Talbot Elliman
Islip, N.Y.

Leo Stern, the Press Representative for Jesus Christ Superstar states that Harvey Milk, who was murdered, is the same Harvey Milk who assisted Tom O'Horgan at the Mark Hellinger Theatre.

[[line]]
Have a question about the theatre? Write to PLAYBILL, Dept. D.P. 71 Vanderbilt Avenue, Suite 320, New York, N.Y. 10169

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Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.