Why the Tony Awards need to watch their back.

The Tony Awards are pretty impressive, but I think that we are giving them some serious competition with our Helpmann Awards. And it’s not just because I’m Australian . . .

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The Tony Awards is, hands down, one of the most impressive awards shows in the business. They have an enormous budget, Radio City Music Hall, theatre legends such as Audra McDonald and Bernadette Peters, and of course their host Neil Patrick Harris. But while I think our awards show gives them a run for their money in most areas, there is one thing that we do better.

Each year at the Tony Awards, the set of shows that are invited to perform at the ceremony generally have to be nominated for either the Best Musical or Best Revival award. There have, of course, been exceptions like when Godspell performed in 2012 and Phantom of the Opera performed in 2013. But even then, Godspell was one of the new revivals from the past year and there was nothing new about Phantom of the Opera.

However, at the Helpmann Awards there is a slightly different view towards programming the performances. Hear that Tony Awards? It’s time to pay attention!

One of the highlight performances of the night was from the 2013 Australian Revival of Grease. The only catch is that it hasn’t actually opened anywhere yet!

Set to start performing in Brisbane on the 20th August, last night’s performance was the first time anyone had ever seen the cast on stage. They came straight from the rehearsal room to the Sydney Opera House to debut ‘Sandy’, ‘Grease’ and ‘Born to Hand Jive’.

They wouldn’t do this at the Tony’s . . . . But they should.

Why? Because it gets people excited about what is coming up as opposed to what has already finished. Which, in a small market like Australia, is very important as shows keep changing. Especially when you have a captive audience who are all interested in theatre and have probably seen most of the shows that are receiving awards!

But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work in the world’s biggest theatre market. So Tony Awards, maybe there is something you could learn from this!

In 2013, two of the Tony Award Best Musical nominations, Bring It On: The Musical and A Christmas Story: The Musical, had already closed before the nominees were even announced. And while it is great to feature these shows because they deserve their moment in the spotlight, balance it out by throwing in a couple of new ones as well.

Chances are that the tourist market has already seen the big shows from this season if they are really serious about the theatre. So give them a new attractive show to book their next holiday around, plus you would also be giving these new shows a leg up when it comes to gaining traction in the market. Because we all know it isn’t easy being the new kid on the block, especially when that block houses titans of musical theatre like Wicked and Phantom!

Congrats to all the winners, nominees and performers at last night’s awards show and congrats to the producers who had the forethought to include the upcoming Grease in their festivities.

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