Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Did Tony Forget Jerry?

Lynne Sherwin, an editor at the Beacon Journal and someone I turn to for answers about obscure song lyrics and anything Broadway-related, has a beef with the Tony awards.
''I can't comprehend how they could have Jesse L. Martin sing ''Razzle Dazzle'' as a tribute to Fred Ebb and NOT EVEN MENTION Jerry Orbach,'' said Sherwin after watching the Tony telecast.
Nor, she said, was Orbach included in a Tony tribute to performers who had died since the last Tony show. (Orbach died in December 2004.)
Why is this what Sherwin called a ''disgraceful oversight''? Well, Orbach was a stage guy long before he became known on ''Law & Order.'' Here's the stage-credits section of his NBC biography:

Orbach’s professional acting career began in the theater. He did summer stock at the age of 16 and made his first New York stage appearance at the age of 21 in “The Threepenny Opera” as Mack the Knife. In 1960, he created the role of El Gallo in the Off-Broadway milestone, “The Fantasticks.”
Orbach made his Broadway debut in 1961 in David Merrick’s production of “Carnival” and received his first Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of Sky Masterson in the City Center revival of “Guys and Dolls.”
He won a Tony Award for his starring role in “Promises, Promises” and has also appeared in “The Cradle Will Rock,” “Scuba Duba,” “6 Rms Riv Vu” and “Chicago.” It was in this production that Orbach met his wife Elaine Cancilla, who replaced Chita Rivera as his co-star.
Orbach toured with the national company of Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two” for nine months and was last seen on Broadway in the original production of “42nd Street.” Orbach was inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame in 1999.
(end NBC section)

So Orbach sang ''Razzle Dazzle'' on Broadway; you can still hear him on the CD of the original cast. (He's good, too.) Martin played his partner on ''Law & Order'' for about five years. Sure, some people will get the connection without having it spelled out. But Orbach deserved the spelling-out, too.

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