Tony Awards upheaval: Sound categories out, revival authors in, nominating committee upped to 50

Just days after the Tony Awards on Sunday, the two groups that oversee these kudos — the non-profit American Theater Wing and the Broadway League that represents producers — announced several key changes.

Among them:

The elimination of the two Sound Design awards.
This decision is a real headscratcher as these categories have only been around for seven of the 68 years of the Tonys.

Were people peeved that this year’s Play prize went to “Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill“? The Tonys had ruled that this production was a play even though more than half of its 90-minute running time had Tony champ Audra McDonald raising her voice in song as Billie Holliday

Or were those on the Administration Committee like so many of us who had made Tony predictions at Gold Derby? The vast majority of our Experts, Editors and Users expected “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” to take the Sound Design (Musical) award but it was “Beautiful” that prevailed.

Tony Awards: Complete List of Winners 

The addition of authors to the Revival winners
Those authors whose works have not appeared on Broadway before are to be included as nominees alongside the producers. 

Had that rule been in place this year, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” creators John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask would have gotten their own Best Musical Revival awards rather than just the reflected glory when producer David Binder collected his. 

This year’s Best Play Revival award went to “A Raisin in the Sun.” As that was first produced on Broadway in 1960, the later Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote this landmark work, would not have been listed among the nominees. She lost the Best Play race back then to William Gibson for “The Miracle Worker.”

One of the other Play Revival contenders this year was “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare. One wonders if the Bard will reap a bid when one of his two collaborations — “The Two Noble Kinsmen” (with John Fletcher) and “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” (with George Wilkins) — makes it to Broadway for the first time. 

Join the fierce fight about the Tony Awards
going on right now in our notorious message boards

The nominating committee is increased to 50 members
While there were 46 members on the committee this past season, 13 had to disqualify themselves at some point in the proceedings due to a conflict of interest with at least one of the contenders under consideration. The rules allow for up to 50 members who serve for rotating terms of three years. 

The 18 new members of the committee are: 

Barry Brown – Retired Broadway Producer
Paul Cremo – Dramaturg/Director of Opera Commissioning Program, The Metropolitan Opera
Harvey Evans – Actor
Paul Gallo – Lighting Designer
Jenny Gersten – Executive Director, Friends of the High Line
Jack Hofsiss – Theatre/Film/Television Director
Kate Levin – Cultural Assets Management Principal, Bloomberg Associates
Reynold Levy – Former President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Patricia Marx – American Humorist and Writer/Former Television Writer
Jim McLaughlin – Former Producer, CBS News/TV Feature and Documentary Producer
Roger Morgan – Lighting Designer/Theatre Designer
Debra Monk – Actor
Katherine Oliver – Media and Entertainment Executive
Christian Parker – Assoc. Artistic Dir. at Atlantic Theater Co./Chair, Columbia MFA Theatre Program
Ravi S. Rajan – Dean, School of the Arts – SUNY Purchase
Susan H. Schulman – Director/President, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
Wynn Thomas – Production Designer
Preston Whiteway – Executive Director, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

They join:

Douglas Aibel – Artistic Dir., The Vineyard Theatre
Arin Arbus – Associate Artistic Dir., Theatre for a New Audience
Ira Bernstein – Former Producer/General Manager/Stage Manager/Casting Director
Susan Birkenhead- Lyricist
Mark Brokaw – Artistic Dir., Yale Institute for Music Theatre/Director
Donald Byrd – Choreographer
Ben Cameron – Program Dir. for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, NY
Mary Schmidt Campbell – Dean, Tisch School of the Arts
Veronica Claypool – Arts Management Consultant, Full Circle Management Group/Former GM
John Darnton – Former Cultural Editor, The New York Times
Jacqueline Z. Davis – Executive Dir., The NY Public Library for the P. A. at Lincoln Center
Rick Elice – Playwright
Kent Gash – Director/Founding Dir., of NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio on Broadway
Liza Gennaro – Choreographer
Adam Guettel – Composer/Lyricist
Wendall K. Harrington – Projection Designer/Lecturer
Philip Himberg – Artistic Director, Sundance Institute Theatre Program
Ann Hould-Ward – Costume Designer
Julie Hughes – Former Casting Director
Cheyenne Jackson – Actor
Stephen Karam – Playwright
Corby Kummer – Senior Editor, The Atlantic Magazine
Dick Latessa – Actor
John Leguizamo – Actor/Playwright
Sara Lukinson – Documentary Film Producer/Television Writer
Marsha Mason – Actor/Playwright
Mary-Louise Parker – Actor
Nigel Redden – Gen. Dir., Spoleto Festival USA/Dir., Lincoln Center Festival
Arlene Shuler – President & CEO, New York City Center
Scott Schwartz – Director
Linda Shelton – Executive Dir., Joyce Theater Foundation
Robin Wagner – Scenic Designer

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2 thoughts on “Tony Awards upheaval: Sound categories out, revival authors in, nominating committee upped to 50

  1. Thankfully there is already a petition to have the sound design awards reinstated. We stopped them from removing Orchestrations a few years ago with similar tactics so hopefully it will work again.

  2. What I’d like to see the Tony committee do is institute a new category: Best ORIGINAL Musical. By that I mean one with an ORIGINAL book as well as ORIGINAL score and lyrics. Not one based on a movie, which seems to be the current trend, or that uses old standards and existing songs (i.e. “Bullets Over Broadway”), or jukebox musicals (i.e. “Beautiful”). It would be more along the lines of the Oscars separating the screenplay awards: Based on Material from Another Medium, etc., and Original Screenplay.

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