It was recently announced that the Tony Awards would reinstate the previously nixed Best Sound Design categories. The two awards, handed out to a play and musical, were eliminated in 2014. But thanks to vocal complaints from the Broadway community and professional review by the Tonys, they’re back! The announcement of their return has us thinking about other categories the Tonys could create.
Is there a certain theatrical profession or craft you wish the Tonys would honor? Take a look at the potential categories below and let us know which you want to see most by voting in our poll at the bottom of this post.
Best Ensemble Cast
This Broadway season has been a stellar one for large ensembles. “Come From Away,” “Indecent,” “Jitney,” “The Play That Goes Wrong,” and “Sweat” are all filled out by big casts billed below the title. But these shows are always in danger of losing out on deserved acting nominations since the entire cast is crammed into the featured acting races. An award for Best Ensemble would be a wonderful way to showcase these performances. The Drama League sometimes chooses to bestow a special (non-competitive) award for Best Ensemble when they see fit.
Best Musical Direction
Anyone who has ever performed in a musical knows that the director, choreographer, and music director form a de facto “holy trinity” for the cast. Together they create the tone and shape the world of the show. Yet there is no category to recognize the invaluable contributions of musical directors. The Tonys had a field called ”Best Conductor and Musical Director,” which was handed out from 1948-1964. Concerns over how to best judge and distinguish the music director’s contributions likely lead to its elimination. When Best Sound design makes its return next year, the winners will be determined by a select pool of experts. The same voting tactic could be applied to this category.
Best Projection Design
What started as a trend has become a theater staple. It seems like every Broadway production is utilizing projections to some extent. The Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards have both recently created a category for Best Projection Design to reward these talented designers. The Tonys response to this new art form is to put the projection designer on the ticket with the set designer for Best Scenic Design. But, surely some voters think of projection as lighting rather than a set piece. Sooner or later the Tonys will need to adopt this category.
When Brooke Shields stepped into the revival of “Wonderful Town” in 2004, her performance was so well liked that a Best Cast Replacement category was considered. The category was actually created in 2005, with Jonathan Pryce (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) and Harvey Fierstein (“Fiddler on the Roof”) both qualifying for consideration. Neither reached enough votes in a complicated voting process, so Best Replacement was discontinued without any award ever given out. The rules for such a category would get complicated, but actors are doing outstanding work on Broadway long after the original cast leaves.
Sometimes a musical has that one song you can’t shake from your mind, and that’s what this category is for. And in a year where a juggernaut like “Hamilton” dominates the awards ceremony, this would be a prime spot to reward a songwriting achievement like ‘She Used to be Mine’ (“Waitress”) by Sara Bareilles. This would be an award for the song that defined the season, a tune that is sure to become a standard among auditioners and cabaret singers for years to come.
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on May 2. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.