Muscling into THE awards show

A recent complaint on Broadway is that there are so many stalwart shows (Wicked, Phantom of the Opera etc.) and as a result it is getting harder and more difficult to secure a theatre on Broadway to open a new show. If this trend keeps happening the Tony Awards may start to have some problems . . .

sold out

The awards given out at the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre (Tony) Awards are solely based around shows that have opened within the year prior to the nomination announcement. Despite the broad titles like ‘Best Musical’, ‘Best Play’ and ‘Best Revival’ in both of the previous categories, the possible award nominees are rather limited.

Look at the possibilities for this year’s ‘Best Musical’ award:

  • Kinky Boots
  • Motown: The Musical
  • Matilda
  • Hands On A Hardbody
  • A Christmas Story
  • Chaplin
  • Bring It On: The Musical
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Only 8 musicals fall into contention for this award and at least 4 have to be nominated – that’s 50%! And this number has been in decline over the last couple of years. Can anyone else see a time in the future when it will be a real struggle to find 4 newly opened musicals that deserve to be in the running for this award?

Judging from the success of Kinky Boots and Matilda, this eventuality may be getting closer as a further two theatres look to be engaged for a longer period of time.

What will happen with this eventuality occurs? Will we start praying for flops that close early so that the theatre space can open up for another new show? Will we start limiting the number of revivals? Will we start frantically building Broadway theatres so that more shows can be playing at the same time?

If I was in charge of the Tony’s and was keeping an eye on how quickly these circumstances were approaching, I would be looking at two solutions: Off-Broadway and Long-Running Shows.

1)      Off-Broadway: What is to say that Off-Broadway should be excluded from this award ceremony? There have been some fantastic shows on the Off-Broadway circuit in the past year, such as Bare: The Musical, which would be able to hold its own against some of the heavyweights mentioned above. Also, many highly-rated shows have started Off-Broadway or drifted between the two theatre circuits, such as Rent, Avenue Q and Rock of Ages.

2)      Long-Running Shows: Why should a show be discounted as soon as it has run for more than one year? Maybe it shouldn’t be counted in the ‘Best Musical’ category, but let’s think about other ways we could approach it. The one aspect that long-running shows have over new shows is the changing cast – some of which are even better than the originals (Did I just say that?!?). Why not create a ‘Best Replacement Actor/Actress’ award?

Just one more thought. The 2013 Olivier Awards just occurred on the West End (the second-biggest theatre awards show!). The have recently introduced an ‘Audience Award’ where the audiences choose their favourite show from anything that has been playing in the last year. This means that heavyweights like Wicked and The Lion King are still in with a chance to win an award and that can only mean more promotion and advertising for these shows that are trying to win over the public.

With more advertising and promotion comes greater audiences – and we can never have enough of those!

Comments? Let me hear them. If you’re looking for inspiration, let me know how you think we could change the Tony Awards so that they can last into the future.

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