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Spotlight on Sound: A History of 'Best Sound Design' at the Tony Awards

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Spotlight on Sound: A History of 'Best Sound Design' at the Tony Awards

As BWW reported yesterday, the 2013-2014 Tony Awards Administration Committee met for the final time this season to determine the eligibility rules for the 2014-2015 season. The most controversial decision determined that Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical Categories would be eliminated from the established list of competitive categories, beginning with the 2014-2015 season. The Tony Administration Committee may bestow a Special Tony Award to a production when it determines that extraordinary sound design has been achieved.

In response to the decision, sound designer John Gromada, who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Sound Design of a Play for 2013's revival of The Trip to Bountiful, has started an online petition (which currently has over 9,000 signatures) to reverse the Committee's ruling.

With so much interest in the ruling, BroadwayWorld wants to give you a full rundown on the history of the award. The first Tony Award for 'Best Sound Design of a Play' and 'Best Sound Design of a Musical' was given in the 2007-2008 season. At the time the category was added, Howard Sherman (the then executive director of the American Theater Wing) told the New York Times: "We want to reflect an evolution of the understanding of the sound designer's role, both among artists and in the community at large. This is not an award for placing a microphone somewhere. It's about the creation of an aural environment that impacts our relationship to a production, just like any other design."

The addition of the category marked the first time that a change was made to the Tony Awards ballot since 2005- when 'Best Costume Design', 'Best Scenic Design' and 'Best Lighting Design' were split into categories for both plays and musicals.

Past winners of 'Best Sound Design of a Play' include:

2008- Mic Pool, The 39 Steps

2009-Gregory Clarke, Equus

2010- Adam Cork, Red

2011- Christopher Shutt, War Horse

2012- Darron L West, Peter and the Starcatcher

2013- John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful

2014- Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Past winners of 'Best Sound Design of a Musical' include:

2008- Scott Lehrer, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

2009- Paul Arditti, Billy Elliot, The Musical

2010- Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!

2011- Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

2012- Clive Goodwin, Once

2013- John Shivers, Kinky Boots

2014- Brian Ronan, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

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