What Will Happen at the Tonys on June 11? It's Unclear.

This season has some of the closest Tony races in recent memory and the broadcast where we'll get to know the winners is still in flux.

By: May. 30, 2023
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What Will Happen at the Tonys on June 11? It's Unclear.

The Tony Awards are less than two weeks away and there are still many unanswered questions.

The most important is likely: who is going to win? That is of course always an unanswered question until the names are announced, but usually at least one of the major races has a clear-cut favorite. In fact, in my over decade of polling voters, I can’t remember a time when the four major races were all this close. I’ve spoken to over 40 voters and yes, there are front runners, but the big four races are close enough that there could be a shift before voting ceases.

In light of this, I was hoping there would be a return to the big campaign materials of old. (Filled HAIRSPRAY lunch box! WONDERFUL TOWN viewfinder! SPAMALOT hand puppet!) But, alas, Tony season hasn’t returned to what it was before the swag ban of the 2005-2006 season. Back then, deep-pocketed producers flooded Broadway and their ability to campaign was simply better, so the Tony Awards Administration Committee added a rule that limited the things producers could distribute as part of their campaign package. During the 2014-2015 season the rule was suspended for one season, then it was suspended for another, and now it is completely out of the rulebook. But things never got back to exactly where they were and this season has proven no different. Many shows went simply with e-blasts. Voters did enjoy the barbecue sauce that FAT HAM sent and the miniature Milky White that the INTO THE WOODS team distributed, but mostly it has been more standard fare. In the extremely important, and competitive, Best Musical race, SHUCKED received high marks for sending a fake newspaper, the “Cob County Gazette,” along with its souvenir book. The paper had a front-page story by director Jack O’Brien and other themed content. Voters lauded the presentation of the & JULIET materials--an annotated script, souvenir book and CD came in a box filled with pink confetti. KIMBERLY AKIMBO went with a script and high school yearbook-themed souvenir book; SOME LIKE IT HOT a more traditional souvenir book. This week, NEW YORK, NEW YORK will be sending a set of postcards of Beowulf Boritt’s hand-painted drops with a QR code taking voters to a site with videos, audio and features. (QR codes came with most materials the shows sent.)

The Broadway League Spring Road Conference is also well-known as a campaign pitch opportunity. All these years later, you can still find some producers angry that AVENUE Q beat WICKED partially by convincing road voters at a Spring Road Conference party that AVENUE Q would tour well, despite AVENUE Q producers signing a Vegas deal that prohibited the show from touring until the Vegas production closed. This season, road voters reported to me enjoying the KIMBERLY AKIMBO prom party and meeting INTO THE WOODS’ Milky White, but no one said they were swayed by a production’s efforts.

The next important unanswered question is just what we’ll be seeing on June 11. I’m not sure anyone knows the exact answer to that one either. Over the weekend it was reported that the WGA is asking its nominated members to skip the unscripted awards. There will be no red carpet interviews. There are expected to be celebrity presenters, but fewer than in a non-strike year, and the list is still in flux. The musical numbers will be introduced by 10-20 second videos composed of prior interview clips/endorsements that will hopefully explain the show. B-roll clips will be aired for the plays. Rumor has it that the Tony folks planned to invite long runners (and one would hope A BEAUTIFUL NOISE, a new musical that wasn’t nominated but could put on a winning Neil Diamond number) to participate, but as of late last week that hadn’t occurred.

So, basically, it’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for just about everyone in the Broadway community.

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BroadwayWorld's Industry Editor Cara Joy David is a New York-based entertainment journalist who has been covering the theater industry for over a decade. Her features have appeared in The New York... (read more about this author)



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