Why it is time for some audience-voted Tony Awards!

The Tony Awards are one of the best marketing opportunities for any show on the Great White Way. Scoring a record number of Tony nominations or even a spot in the hotly contested ‘Best Musical’ category can change your future from dismally fading out of existence to seeing your show’s name up in lights for many more seasons. But there appears to be a growing trend in the nominations which could leave some of the most popular shows out in the cold.

Nominees

The marketing power of a Tony Award is unbelievable. Well, actually it makes a lot of sense. Broadway is predominantly a tourist market and, whether you are a fan of musicals and plays or not, seeing a Broadway show is something everyone has to tick off their New York bucket list. For those who are not anxiously following the latest openings, they need an easy way to determine which show poses the least risk – both financial risk in purchasing a ticket and time risk by using up three precious hours in the Big Apple. The easy way . . . Look at which show won lots of awards.

‘If it won lots of awards, then it must be good!’

This is the mentality of the non-theatre goer. And it is great! It provides an incentive to get into the theatre and see a show that is clearly so wonderful it beat all the other shows which opened during that period.

But there is one issue. More and more, the awards are going to artistically-oriented shows. And this has stemmed from the understanding of the marketing power gained from a Tony Award.

Last year’s winner is a great example. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was an average performer when it opened. Filling roughly 75% of the theatre most weeks and only gaining between 45%-60% of the potential earnings (i.e. there were a lot of discounted tickets) the show was not doing terribly well. Why? Competing with big sellers from that season such as Beautiful: The Carole King Story, Aladdin and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, this show couldn’t compete on spectacle, was a rather old-fashioned spin on musicals and didn’t feature headline stars. But then it won the Best Musical Tony Award and sales went through the roof. Suddenly it was one of the most successful shows on the strip virtually selling out most nights.

That was due to the Tony Award. There was an easy way for tourists who didn’t know much about theatre to know that it wouldn’t be a waste of money and time if they were to see that show.

Great, but it comes with a catch. If the show isn’t accessible for non-theatrical audiences then the Tony Awards could lose some of their sheen!

If these awards go to the more high-brow, less family-friendly productions then there is the opportunity for the Tony Awards to lose their unimaginable marketing power. If people don’t enjoy themselves at a ‘Best Musical’ or ‘Best Play’ award winning production, then next time they won’t choose it.

Why do I bring this up? This year, a lot of the shows which were snubbed were some of the best selling options of the season. Finding Neverland, the musical adaptation of the popular movie starring Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Fraiser’s Kelsey Grammer, failed to receive any nominations despite being the most popular new musical. Larry David’s Fish in the Dark and the Hugh Jackman-led The River were both in the same boat (pardon the pun!) despite pulling crowds in excess of 100% capacity almost every week.

So what would solve this dilemma?

Bring in an audience voted award. We already know which productions are the most popular audience choices because that is where the money is being spent. That way not only do the artistic shows get awarded by the prestigious Tony Award committee, but the audience favourites also get awarded. And this means that theatre fans and aficionados will know which artistic shows to see from the committee’s awards while the non-theatre fans will be able to make an appropriate choice based on the audience awards.

It is simple strategies like this which will ensure that everyone who walks through the door of a show, whether they know everything about the theatre or nothing, will have a great time and come back for more!

Check out the nominations below.

­­­Nominations for the 2015 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing

Best Play

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Disgraced

Hand to God

Wolf Hall Parts One & Two


Best Musical

An American in Paris

Fun Home

Something Rotten!

The Visit


Best Revival of a Play

The Elephant Man

Skylight

This Is Our Youth

You Can’t Take It with You


Best Revival of a Musical

The King and I

On the Town

On the Twentieth Century


Best Book of a Musical

An American in Paris

Craig Lucas

Fun Home

Lisa Kron

Something Rotten!

Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell

The Visit

Terrence McNally


Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Fun Home

Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: Lisa Kron

The Last Ship

Music & Lyrics: Sting

Something Rotten!

Music & Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick

The Visit

Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home


Best Scenic Design of a Play

Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It with You


Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home


Best Costume Design of a Play

Bob Crowley, The Audience
Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Zinn, Airline Highway


Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
Catherine Zuber, The King and I


Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight
Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway


Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit

 

Best Direction of a Play

Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God


Best Direction of a Musical

Sam Gold, Fun Home
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town
Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


Best Choreography

Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


Best Orchestrations

Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

 

Tony Nominations by Production

 

An American in Paris – 12

Fun Home – 12

Something Rotten! – 10

The King and I – 9

Wolf Hall Parts One & Two – 8

Skylight – 7

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – 6

Hand to God – 5

On the Twentieth Century – 5

The Visit – 5

You Can’t Take It with You – 5

Airline Highway – 4

The Elephant Man – 4

On the Town – 4

The Audience – 3

The Last Ship – 2

Constellations – 1

Disgraced – 1

Gigi – 1

The Heidi Chronicles – 1

It’s Only a Play – 1

This Is Our Youth – 1

Shows with zero nominations: The Country HouseFish in the DarkLiving on LoveThe RiverDoctor ZhivagoFinding NeverlandHoller If Ya Hear MeIt Shoulda Been YouA Delicate BalanceLove LettersThe Real ThingSide Show.

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