Industry Editor Exclusive: Tidbits on the 2019 Tony Awards
The Tony Awards are this coming Sunday and, of course, that is all anyone in the industry is talking about.
One topic is the new Tony voting system. As we wrote about this fall, Tony Award Productions is using a new system in which a person marks her/his attendance, and the date of that attendance, on the Tony Voter Portal. If the voter does not mark her/his attendance to a certain show, then that person is blocked from voting in a category that show has received a nomination. Except there are issues that have come up as we get closer to the end of voting.
First, people are wondering what happens if someone lies. Tony Award Productions official statement on that is: "There are variety of cross checks that take place to ensure the integrity of the process on several levels." This biggest cross check is that the General Manager of a show can check their records verses the Tony Voter Portal. The GM can then challenge a voter. Except ask 10 people exactly what happens after that challenge and you'll get at least six different answers. Most will have some version of "it will begin by contacting the voter," but remember votes aren't due until noon on Friday. So if there are a lot of last minute votes and challenges, it's going to be a long weekend. (I personally do not think there will be a ton of challenges overall, but others disagree.)
Second, if you don't report you saw X show, you are indeed locked out of voting from any category in which X show is nominated. However, the system does not seem to be sensitive to actors being out of a show, whether due to illness or simply having left the show. In other words, everyone who did not take in THE FERRYMAN until after the nominations did not see original actors and nominees Paddy Considine or Laura Donnelly, who have all departed the play. Therefore those voters should not be able to vote for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play or Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. But the system does not lock the voter out of those categories-the voter can vote in those categories as long as s/he saw THE FERRYMAN at some point. The voter still should not vote in those categories if that voter didn't see all the nominated performers, but most spoken to believe it will happen.
The system is new and it is likely the kinks from this year should be cleared up by next, but, meanwhile, the impact on this season's voting remains to be seen.
Some other Tony tidbits:
If you've ever wondered why there are a flurry of tour announcements this time of year it is because wooing road presenters, many of whom also happen to be Tony voters, has always been sort of important. Announcing a tour supposedly shows you are a success. And the idea has been that tour friendly shows have the edge. But note that this factor isn't necessarily determinative - for example, FUN HOME was unlikely to tour as well as AN AMERICAN IN PARIS or SOMETHING ROTTEN!, yet FUN HOME took home the big award. Also, many producers complain that now every show announces a tour, even if no dates or venues come with it. Those tours are more likely never to materialize and their announcements are seen simply as a grab for votes.
The public has already influenced this year's Tony Awards. When friends of Eric LaJuan Summers--who performed in six Broadway shows and passed away on April 9th after a two year battle with Multiple Myeloma--heard he wouldn't be included in Tony's In Memoriam montage, they started a petition. Over 5000 signatures later, someone listened. Summers will now be in there, alongside such lost luminaries as Carol Channing and Neil Simon.