Skip to content

Exclusive: Read Tony Awards testimonials from John Kander, Leslie Uggams and the late Angela Lansbury

Learn about the Tonys from the viewpoint of theater legends in these exclusive clips from the upcoming book “The Tony Awards: A Celebration of Excellence in Theatre.”

Angela Lansbury presents George Abbott with his Special Tony Award at the 1987 Tony Awards ceremony, weeks before Abbott’s 100th birthday (Credit: Courtesy of the American Theatre Wing)

The Tony Awards, founded by the American Theatre Wing, began in 1947. Named for actor, producer and director Antoinette Perry, the first Tonys ceremony took place at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on April 6 of that year. Perry had been the chairperson of the Wing during the challenges of World War II. She passed away in June of 1946, and the Awards were named in her memory. That first ceremony bestowed awards in 10 categories as well as eight special awards for individuals related to the industry. Since then, the Tony Awards has only grown: As of the 2023 ceremony, it included 26 competitive categories and seven special awards. 

As one of the four major awards ceremonies for the arts — along with the Emmys, Grammys and Oscars — the Tonys are a celebration of achievement and a gathering of the Broadway community. Over the past 76 years, hundreds of artists have made lasting memories and offered defining performances. The new book “The Tony Awards: A Celebration of Excellence in Theatre” documents the Tonys through the people who make Broadway. Across more than 130 interviews — and a foreword by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald — artists share their greatest memories from all 76 past ceremonies. With firsthand accounts from the likes of Tony recipient Carol Burnett, Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth, David Henry Hwang, Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Julie Taymor, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the late Chita Rivera and more, the new tome (due out on April 16) takes readers through the Tony Awards decade by decade.

Here, Broadway News shares three exclusive excerpts from the soon-to-be-released book. Read reflections from five-time Tony-winning performer and five-time Tony host the late Angela Lansbury, four-time Tony-winning composer John Kander and Tony-winning actor Leslie Uggams.

Angela Lansbury:

I love the theater, and my mother Moyna Macgill was a successful actress in London before World War II, so it was through her that I became drawn to the theater and to acting. It was director Moss Hart who once famously wrote that “The world of the theater is as closed a tribe and as removed from other civilian worlds as a gypsy encampment, and those who enter it are spoiled for anything else and are tainted with its insidious lure for the rest of their lives.” I certainly was caught by the lure and became spoiled for anything else, and I am tremendously grateful and consider myself blessed to have been a part of the “tribe” all these years. It is a great honor to be recognized by one’s colleagues and peers and given a Tony Award. However, I have always felt a little conflicted, because the other nominees were so talented and equally deserving. It always heightened the honor to be nominated among other such gifted actors. And, on a lighter note, it goes to show what can happen if one hangs in there long enough. 

Introductory Offer

$1/month for 6 months


Already have an account? Log in