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Lack Of Recognition

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MadViolist
Chorus Member
joined:7/23/15
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Lack Of Recognition#1
Posted: 7/20/19 at 6:53pm

How is it possible that MDs and conductors of musicals are so often overlooked? Recently, I went to two professional productions and neither of them had an MD's name on the poster (while both the director and the choreographer were there) and one of them didn't even mention him/her in the program at all!!

Why is there no Tony or any other widely recognized award for Music Directors? It's them who sets the tone of the whole production, who often does the hardest musical job in it and works with everybody else ...

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AADA81
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joined:1/15/11
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Lack Of Recognition#2
Posted: 7/20/19 at 7:00pm

MadViolist said: "How is it possible that MDs and conductors of musicals are so often overlooked? Recently, I went to two professional productions and neither of them had an MD's name on the poster (while both the director and the choreographer were there) and one of them didn't even mention him/her in the programat all!!

Why is there no Tony or any other widely recognized award for Music Directors? It's them who sets the tone of the whole production, who often does the hardest musical job in it and works with everybody else ...
"

Actually, there was a Tony award for that early on.  It was retired in the mid-60s, I think; I don't know why.  I know what you mean though.  A good MD can take the work of others and transform it, and a conductor is as much a part of every performance as anyone else in the show.

 

Updated On: 7/20/19 at 07:00 PM
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JBroadway
Broadway Legend
joined:4/6/12
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Lack Of Recognition#3
Posted: 7/20/19 at 7:18pm
Speaking as someone who has done and seen a fair number of musicals, I completely agree that the MD is absolutely central to the process. Far more than many people probably realize. And it’s true that they have an important influence on how the score is performed. But I think it’s difficult to see that influence from the outside. Unless I’m seeing a revival of a score I’m familiar with, I can almost never tell what was a musical direction choice vs. a composer choice. Maybe that’s just my relative inexperience, but I would guess that most of the Tony people feel the same, and that’s why there’s no award.

BTW, every time (I believe) Sondheim has won a Tony, he has made a statement in his acceptance speech that the MD award should exist.
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HogansHero
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joined:2/26/12
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Lack Of Recognition#4
Posted: 7/20/19 at 7:32pm

I don't know what level you are writing about. Broadway (and off-Broadway) credits pages include these good folks. Beyond that, musicians are not awarded at the Tonys. The only music related Tonys are for the score  and for orchestrations, neither of which relate to anything performative. For reasons that have some  explanation I don't want to get into right now, musicians are not on the credits page and do not have bios. If you have additional interest in this topic, I encourage you to ask the union for more info. 

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
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Lack Of Recognition#5
Posted: 7/20/19 at 8:35pm

RE: the Tony Award question... On a Broadway show, music departments are vast, hierarchy is vague and inconsistent, and it's almost impossible to pinpoint or award who's doing what.  Especially nowadays, where a show could have a Music Supervisor, Music Director, Conductor, Dance Arranger, Vocal Arranger, Orchestrator, Contractor, AND a living Composer.

If the vocals sound good, that's usually the Vocal Arranger, MD or Supervisor, and Composer.

If the orchestra sounds good, that's a combo of the Orchestrator (for which there's already an award), Arranger, Conductor (not always the same person as the MD or Supervisor), and the Orchestra Contractor.  The producer determines the size of the orchestra.  Some nights, the Associate will be conducting.

If the arrangements sound good, that's on the Arrangers and Composer.

After a show opens, who's maintaining the show in rehearsal, casting replacements, overseeing tours, liaising with the Composer, etc?  Could be the Supervisor, could be a MD, could be a combination of people.

All that is MUCH different than a regional theatre production, where the Music Director is usually the sole person teaching the cast vocals, conducting the show, hiring the orchestra, and making all the other musical decisions.

 

Re: the advertising question... All billing is contractually negotiated.  To be blunt, producers wouldn't bill ANYONE if they didn't have to: Outside of frequent New York theatergoers who know names like Bartlett Sher and George Wolfe and Diane Paulus, the vast majority of directors/choreographers do not mean a thing for ticketsales, but their agents negotiate billing of equal prominence to the author due to their invaluable work on the show.

Updated On: 7/20/19 at 08:35 PM
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GavestonPS
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Lack Of Recognition#6
Posted: 7/20/19 at 8:46pm

The Tonys also used to have an award for "Best Stage Technician". I have absolutely no idea how voters were supposed to determine that.

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Lack Of Recognition#7
Posted: 7/20/19 at 8:51pm

addendum:      The Music Director Tony argument is not unlike the Casting Director Tony argument.

Casting Directors don't make the final decisions: they facilitate the Director/Producer/Authors in the casting process and bring options together in the room, with specifics varying show-to-show.

Sometimes, the CD isn't hired til after the leads are cast. Sometimes, they're overseeing the whole casting process. Sometimes, the author or director have actors in mind from day 1. Sometimes, the CD is only casting understudies. And if the performances are uniformly good, isn't that as much about the Director and Actors as it is about the CD? 

(And don't get me started on Stage Manager Tonys! If voters can't judge what a Sound Designer does, they def can't judge the work of the SM. If anything, add a Hair/Makeup Design award.)