The Tony Awards Countdown #2: The Non-Nominated Shows
It has never been much of a secret that the Tony Awards are essentially a big advertisement for Broadway. And if you are one of the eight shows that get nominated for the Best Musical/Best Revival of a Musical Award, then you automatically get to perform. But what about the other shows? The ones who missed out in the major nominations. Well, things are rather rapidly changing.
It is in every show’s interest to have all musicals playing on Broadway perform at the Tony Awards. Why? Because while your show may be nominated for a Best Musical Award, that doesn’t mean it will appeal to all visitors to New York. But another show may bring new audiences to the theatre who have a spare day on their holidays and decide to give your show a chance.
However, non-performing shows performing at the Tony Awards has a chequered past.
Generally there has been a blanket rule against these performances. A change was attempted in 2007 when the Tony Awards Committee invited the non-nominated Legally Blonde and LoveMusik to perform, but when the other performers kicked up the offer was unfortunately reneged. Money seemed to change this fact recently when major sponsor Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines had their touring cast of Hairspray perform. And last year’s ceremony featured Sting performing a song from his upcoming show The Last Ship and Jennifer Hudson singing a song from Finding Neverland which had not yet landed on Broadway as well as Wicked celebrating their 10th anniversary.
But this year has marked a dramatic change. All three still-running musicals that missed out on a major award nomination, Finding Neverland, It Shoulda Been You and Gigi, were invited to perform.
So what changed?
There is definitely a shifting tide towards increasing the performances in this show and, surely, there is a slow awakening to the importance of having all these shows perform. But I think that there was something more this year . . .
While the plays were jam-packed with them, this season’s musicals were largely devoid of commercial stars. There are plenty of the famous musical theatre entourage, but not many people who the average American would recognise and encourage them to book their next holiday to New York. At least not in the nominated shows.
In the nominated musicals, the most famous performers to a non-theatre audience are Peter Gallagher and Kristin Chenoweth (who has managed to carefully toe the line between theatre and Hollywood stardom). The celebrity big hitters were largely missed by the nominations with High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens in Gigi and Glee’s Matthew Morrison in Finding Neverland. Now, thanks to a new ruling by the Tony Awards committee, these shows have been invited to perform and will certainly play their part encouraging lots of new theatre audiences into New York.
Other shows may feel threatened by this move, but ultimately these new audiences will look for other musicals to see while visiting the Big Apple and choosing a show that has won lots of Tonys would be a great second option!