2019 Tony Awards eligibility rulings (Round 3): Harvey Fierstein’s surprise return to the race

00The Tony Awards Administration Committee met for the third time in the 2018-2019 Broadway season, and announced eligibility rulings for the 73rd Annual Tony Awards. Seven productions were discussed in the meeting: “King Kong,” “Choir Boy,” “True West,” “Be More Chill,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations” and “What the Constitution Means to Me.”

The committee made the following decisions:

Christiani Pitts and Eric William Morris will be eligible for Lead Actress/Actor in a Musical for their respective performances in “King Kong.”

Peter England’s projection design will be considered eligible along with his scenic design in the Best Scenic Design of a Musical category, for “King Kong.”

Jeremy Pope will be considered eligible for Lead Actor in a Play for his performance in “Choir Boy.”

Will Roland will be considered eligible for Lead Actor in a Musical category for his performance in “Be More Chill.”

Beowulf Boritt (scenic design) and Alex Basco Koch (projection design) will be considered jointly eligible for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for their work on “Be More Chill.”

Corbin Bleu will be considered eligible for Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Derrick Baskin will be considered eligible for Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.”

Robert Brill (scenic design) and Peter Nigrini (projection design) will be considered jointly eligible for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for their work on “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.”

Heidi Schreck will be considered eligible for Lead Actress a Play for her performance in “What the Constitution Means to Me.”

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Remember that standard Tony rules mean that any performer billed above the title is eligible in Lead, while those below the title are eligible in Featured. So unless a performer in one of the discussed productions was mentioned in the above decisions, their eligibility matches their opening night billing in the Playbill.

In addition, the Tony Awards Administration Committee has established the following new rules, beginning with the 2018-2019 season:

Rule 1: “The author(s) and composer(s) of plays and musicals that are determined eligible in a Best Revival of a Play or Musical categories but did not have any prior presentation in an eligible Broadway theatre, and who are living at the time the production receives the determination, will be considered eligible along with the producers of the production in the Best Revival of a Play/Musical categories.”

In compliance with the new rule, the following authors will be eligible, along with the producers, in the category of “Best Revival of a Play”:

“The Boys in the Band” – Mart Crowley

“The Waverly Gallery” – Kenneth Lonergan

Rule 2: “The author(s) and composer(s) of plays and musicals determined eligible in a Best Revival of a Play or Musical categories, whether or not such author(s) and composer(s) have won previously, will be considered eligible along with the producers in these categories, provided, only if, in the judgment of the Tony Awards Administration Committee, the author(s) and composer(s) have substantially re-worked the play or musical.”

In accordance with this new rule, the Tony Awards Administration Committee has determined that the following author will be eligible, along with the producers, in the category of “Best Revival of a Play”:

“Torch Song” – Harvey Fierstein

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We saw a similar rule play out in recent years in specific regard to musical revivals. In his 2014 acceptance speech for Lead Actor in a Musical, Neil Patrick Harris noted that John Cameron Mitchell would be unable to ever collect a Tony Award for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The musical was deemed a revival per the Tonys “classics” rule, because the show had existed in the professional realm for years even though that revival was its first time on Broadway. The following year, Mitchell was given a special Tony Award and a rule was enacted to nominate composers of these “classic” revivals alongside producers in Revival of a Musical if said revival was receiving its first Broadway production.

It seems the rule now extends to playwrights. It also comes with the added caveat that an author can be nominated and win a Tony for their work even if they have already won for the play, provided the committee determines there has been enough tinkering and re-working on the piece. That’s good news for Harvey Fierstein. His original “Torch Song Trilogy” netted him Best Play and Lead Actor Tony wins in 1983. Now he could potentially snag a third nomination and win from that piece for his revised “Torch Song.” Revival of a Play just got more interesting.

down the remaining list of contenders.

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