Industry Pro Newsletter: Final Tony Eligibility Decisions, Drama League Awards

As challenges continue across the industry, awards season in New York is kicking into gear

By: May. 01, 2023
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In this issue, we discuss the challenges faced by Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in the performing arts in adapting to a changing landscape to maintain their level of excellence. We also take a peek behind the curtain at some of the final Tony eligibility decisions and share the nominations for the 2023 Drama League Awards. In addition, we share the exciting news that the 2023 Tony Awards Live Pre-Show will be available for free streaming on Pluto TV. Finally, we bring you the results of the Easter Bonnet Competition, which raised over $3.6 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Read on for more details.

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Executive Director - Second Stage

Second Stage invites strong cultural executives interested in providing shared leadership, along with the Artistic Director and Board, to set overall direction and identify appropriate support and resources; to motivate staff, artists, trustees, and the theater's core constituencies in pursuit of that direction; and to create a working culture in which decisions are made most effectively. Click here to learn more...

Industry Trends

"The MFA Squeeze: Maintaining Excellence in a Changing Landscape" - American Theatre
American Theatre discusses the challenges faced by MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs in the performing arts in maintaining their level of excellence in a changing landscape. The article highlights the difficulties of maintaining diversity, keeping up with technological advances, and addressing the ever-evolving needs of students while also delivering the core curriculum. It suggests that MFA programs must adapt and innovate to ensure that their graduates remain competitive in an industry that is continually evolving. Click here to read more...

Broadway/New York

Final Tony Admin Decisions Leave Some Scratching Their Heads by Cara Joy David

Tomorrow is the big day--the Tony nominations. That means last week brought us the last eligibility decisions. Let's peek behind the curtain at some of the main things we learned.

First, the score for NEW YORK, NEW YORK was deemed ineligible for Best Score, presumably because the Administration Committee did not feel enough of the songs were new. There is not a hard-and-fast rule about how much music has to be new in order to qualify for the Best Score award, but the general guideline followed has been that the original content has to be over 50% of the score featured in the show. This rule was analyzed in 2003 when URBAN COWBOY was originally deemed not eligible in the category, but then the Administration Committee reversed course when it was pointed out that Jason Robert Brown in fact wrote over 50% of the songs featured in the musical. Now, most consider material "new" if it has never been commercially released. But on the Tony questionnaire, the production must give a percentage of material "written for this Production." NEW YORK, NEW YORK may have an argument that the majority of songs in it are "new," as in were not previously commercially available, but they do not have a good faith argument that a majority of songs were "written for this Production" because so many of the songs are trunk songs. This "written for this Production" analysis is an odd way to approach the question because in most cases you will never know how many songs were trunk songs--composers insert old, unreleased material in shows all the time. But the wording of the questionnaire is what it is.

Second, Liza Colón-Zayas is Tony eligible for her performance in BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY, but questions still remain. As previously reported, a Tony rule would indicate that nominators that did not see Colón-Zayas must recuse themselves. I asked a Tony spokesperson to confirm whether the rule's plain language applied and whether any exception was being made to the rule. No response on that. I also asked if the nominators who did not see her performance did indeed recuse themselves. (Emily Altman, Kathleen Chalfant, Kristoffer Diaz, Michael R. Jackson and Tracey Scott Wilson have recused themselves since I reported on the Tony nominators, bringing the list down to 40.) A source has informed me that nominators that missed Colón-Zayas remain on the current nominator list, but a Tony spokesperson said she had "no insight" into whether that was true.

Third, if this season has proven anything, it's that the phrase "opening night" no longer has any meaning. INTO THE WOODS changed its opening date for Tony purposes months after critics had come. And now THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN'S WINDOW technically "opened" before the cutoff, but that opening did not include inviting critics, it just included saying it was opening night (which is all that is required under the rules).

Fourth, the Tony Administration folks clearly don't want to give any additional special Tonys to puppet creators. In 2011, Handspring Puppet Company got one for WAR HORSE. In 2019, Sonny Tilders got one for KING KONG. What are LIFE OF PI puppet designers Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell getting for their amazing work? A possible joint Tony nomination for Best Costume Design of a Play with actual costume designer Tim Hatley. No one in the general public had previously thought of puppets as costumes, but that was the Administration Committee's call.

Fifth, the PARADE orchestrations are not Tony-eligible. The great Don Sebesky, who sadly passed away over the weekend, orchestrated the original PARADE. The revival has both Sebesky and Jason Robert Brown credited with orchestrations, but the differences were not enough for eligibility.

A decision more important than any of these is on the horizon. If the Writers Guild of America strikes, that strike's impact on the Tony Awards will be dramatic. But, meanwhile, the nominations are what is on everyone's mind.

"Into the Woods," "Sweeney Todd," "A Doll's House" & More Lead in Nominations for 2023 Drama League Awards - BroadwayWorld
"Into the Woods," "Sweeney Todd," and "A Doll's House" were among the productions leading in nominations for the 2023 Drama League Awards. The Drama League honors productions, performers, directors, and designers for excellence in the theatrical community. The awards ceremony will take place in May. Click here to read more...

2023 Tony Awards Live Pre-Show Will Stream for Free on Pluto TV - BroadwayWorld

The 2023 Tony Awards Live Pre-Show will stream for free on Pluto TV. The pre-show will feature interviews with nominees, performances, and behind-the-scenes looks at the ceremony. Pluto TV is a free streaming service available online and on select devices. Click here to read more...

Easter Bonnet Competition Raises $3,601,335 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS - BroadwayWorld

The annual Easter Bonnet Competition, a fundraising event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, raised $3,601,335. The competition is a showcase of Broadway shows and performers wearing elaborately decorated Easter bonnets. The money raised will go towards helping people in the entertainment industry living with AIDS and other serious illnesses. Click here to read more...

Regional

Arena Stage Names Hana Sharif as New Artistic Director - BroadwayWorld

Arena Stage has named Hana Sharif as its new artistic director. Sharif is a director and producer who has worked with numerous regional theaters across the United States. She is the first person of color to lead the theater, which is based in Washington, D.C. Click here to read more...

Arkansas Rep Will Adjust Performance Schedule - Arkansas Online

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has announced a change in its performance schedule due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The theater will reduce the number of productions it puts on in the 2024 season to focus on producing high-quality shows that can be performed safely. They will also move their production model from being school year adjacent to running over the summer, with more community focused engagement and work happening during the school year. Click here to read more...

COVID affecting Denver theaters in 2023 - Westword

The Westword reports on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Denver theater scene. The article discusses the challenges faced by theaters, including lower attendance, production delays, and increased costs due to safety protocols. However, the article also highlights how theaters have adapted to the new environment by offering virtual programming and outdoor performances. Click here to read more...

San Francisco Theatres Experiment with Term Limits

A recent experiment in the Bay Area theatre industry aims to restructure the traditional hierarchy of the theatre world by limiting the length of time that artists and administrators can hold positions of power. The initiative was inspired by concerns about the lack of diversity in theatre leadership and the tendency for the same individuals to hold power for many years. Under the program, leadership roles will have a maximum of five years, with the hope of encouraging fresh ideas, promoting inclusivity, and creating new opportunities for underrepresented groups. Click here to read more...

International

Outgoing ENO Chief Executive Stewart Murphy Takes Aim at Arts Bosses - BroadwayWorld

Outgoing English National Opera (ENO) CEO, Stuart Murphy, delivered a powerful speech at the ENO's annual press conference, challenging arts leaders to create lasting change in the industry. In his speech, Murphy stated that the performing arts need to embrace innovation, build diverse teams, and be more environmentally friendly. He called on arts organizations to take action and be bold in their decision-making, emphasizing that history will judge them based on how they respond to the current challenges facing the industry. Click here to read more...

Missed our last few newsletters?

April 24, 2023 - Broadway vs Resellers, A Deeper Look at the Dallas Theater Center Cuts

This week, we talk about the reintroduction of the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, which provides tax relief for performing artists. We also report on AMC Networks' partnership with the Black Theatre Coalition, which aims to support diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry through production and casting fellowships. Finally, we cover the challenges that Broadway faces with ticket resellers, and how this affects both producers and customers. We discuss the various official ticket sellers for Broadway shows and how having multiple sellers can ameliorate some problems, but consumers may still struggle to find direct box office tickets. Click here to read more...

April 17, 2023 - A Touring Contract Agreement, Tony Eligibility Rulings for Nonbinary Performers

​​In this week's newsletter, Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway League have come to an agreement on touring contracts, which include salary increases, better benefits, and increased safety protocols for touring productions. In addition, President Joe Biden has appointed a number of high-profile artists, such as Lady Gaga and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Furthermore, a recent ruling on Tony eligibility has raised questions about Tony nominators and nonbinary performers. Finally, we learn that the New York City Council has passed a ticket transparency law, which requires that primary ticket sellers disclose to customers any resale restrictions on tickets and provide detailed information about fees and taxes, a move opposed by the Broadway League. Click here to read more...

April 10, 2023 - Shucked's Journey to Broadway, A Complete Awards Season Calendar

Actors' Equity Association has threatened to strike over touring contracts. The union opposes proposed changes to contracts by the Broadway League that would reduce pay for actors and stage managers on national tours. SHUCKED, a musical that debuted in Utah, has raised questions about the use of non-profit venues for regional tryouts, which allow producers to develop shows with less media attention and at lower costs. The Tank, a non-profit arts organization in New York City, has launched a new producers cohort program to provide mentorship to producers from underrepresented communities. Harold Steward has been named the new Executive Director of the New England Foundation for the Arts, while Kimberly E. Douglas has been named the new Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Click here to read more...

BroadwayWorld Resources

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