Tony Awards TV Viewership Down 10 Percent Despite Record Breaking Broadway Season

Broadway Grosses and Attendance Up By Over 7 Percent

tony awardIn the 2014 to 2015 Broadway season, 37 new productions opened. These included 15 musicals, 10 of which were new and 5 of which were revivals, as well as 20 plays, 11 of which were new and 9 of which were revivals. This is in addition to two special engagements. Across the board, the industry yielded $1.37 billion dollars, which is a 7.6% increase from last year’s gross of $1.27 billion dollars. On top of that, total attendance reached 13.1 million people, up 7.3% from last year’s total attendance of 12.2 million people. Though the number of shows was down to 37 from 44 the year before, that is actually a positive sign, as it shows that the shows that did go up stayed up more successfully, leading to less turnover. With regards to the sheer number of shows running on a weekly basis, the number of total playing weeks increased by 8.7% from the previous season. Despite these record breaking figures, the greatest theatre event of the season on broadcast television – the Tony Awards on CBS – had remarkably low TV viewership. According to Nielsen, the event pulled 6.35 million viewers, which is down by 10% from the year before. In comparison, the Golden Globes, often considered the Oscar’s poor cousin, brings in about 20 million viewers.

NBA Conflict Overstated in the Press

When Variety reported on this strange contradiction, its headline proclaimed that the Tony Awards “flirted” with record lows “opposite big NBA finals,” which were shown on rival station NBC. However, this is simplifying the facts. First of all, this was only Game 2 of the NBA Finals. If it were nearing the end of the finals, this may be more of an explanation for the low Tony viewership. Furthermore, the core demographic for theatre awards ceremonies and NBA basketball games couldn’t be less overlapping. The only justification for this could be households where there were conflicting interests, such as wives wanting to watch the Tony Awards and husbands wanting to watch the sports game. In addition, the Tony Awards began at 8:00pm, and the basketball game didn’t begin until 9:00pm. That first hour also includes the opening number, traditionally one of the more exciting elements to watch, as well as some of the major awards. Therefore, the real reason may have more to do with other factors.

Less Interesting Hosts? Less Interest in Awards?alan cumming and kristin chenoweth

One major difference between the 2015 Tony Awards ceremony and the 2014 Tony Awards ceremony is that this year, the hosts were Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth, whereas last year the host was Hugh Jackman. From the Broadway box office reports, it is clear that Hugh Jackman is a major attraction, as both The River and Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway performed excellently in terms of ticket sales. This year’s hosts, though certainly big names on Broadway and with lists of screen credits that are nothing to scoff at, are arguably less big stars. Also, it is possible that having two hosts diluted the interest in the hosting position. Whereas the decision to have two co-hosts may have been an effort to make up for each individual not being a big enough star, the result may have been the opposite: that two hosts are inherently less interesting than one. The Broadway League could be tempted to bring in someone more mainstream who is also funny, but it is doubtful that Ricky Gervais, Amy Poehler or Tina Fey would be expected to host any time soon. Furthermore, the contradiction between an excellent Broadway season and low Tony Award viewership may be explained by the fact that there has been an increased interest in seeing live theatre, but the fan aspect of watching the awards ceremony may have not increased in kind. There were also complaints about this year’s broadcast, such as the Dramatists Guild’s statement that they were increasingly dismayed that key awards, such as Best Book and Best Score, were not shown live on the telecast. In any case, it is excellent for Broadway that more people went to the theatre this past season, and perhaps next year more will tune in for the awards.

“Fun Home” and “Curious Incident” Win Big at the Tony Awards

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth Host at Radio City Music Hall

alan cumming and kristin chenowethLast night, the 69th Annual Tony Awards took place at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. After much excitement, the winners were revealed, amidst many gorgeous musical numbers performed by shows that were nominated, as well as by shows that received no nominations. At the end of the night, the final and most anticipated award was announced: Fun Home took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. Arguably the most prestigious and meaningful award among a list of huge honors, this award will ensure that Fun Home continues to run for at least another year if not many more. After transferring from the Off-Broadway Public Theater, Fun Home has been playing at the small Circle in the Square Theatre since March 27, 2015. Though it has been playing to sold out houses, it has not been reaching the top of its money earning potential. This past week, the week ending June 7, 2015, it made only 87.60% of its gross potential. That is sure to change immediately, as the tiny venue can only accommodate 776 people, by far the smallest house on Broadway. Time will tell whether the show will need to transfer to a larger venue to meet demand, or whether it will just become an extremely tough ticket.

Best Play, Best Revivals, Best Actors, and Best Directorscurious incident

The other very prestigious honor at the Tony Awards is that for Best Play, which was earned by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Having transferred to Broadway from the National Theatre in London, this show took home 5 of the 6 awards for which it was nominated. In addition to Best Play, it won the awards for Best Direction of a Play for Marianne Elliott, Best Actor in a Leading Performance in a Play for Alex Sharp, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Paule Constable, and Best Scenic Design of a Play for Bunny Christie and Finn Ross. As for revivals, the award for Best Revival of a Play was earned by Skylight, which did not earn any of the other awards for which it was nominated. These include three acting awards, for Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, and Matthew Beard, none of whom took home an award for their performances, as well as the award for Best Direction, which Stephen Daldry lost to Marianne Elliott. The award for Best Revival of a Musical was given to The King and I. That show also earned the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, given to Kelli O’Hara. This is the sixth time this wonderful actress has been nominated for a Tony Award, and the first time that she won. The award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play was given to Helen Mirren for The Audience, and the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical was given to Michael Cerveris for Fun Home. Finally, Sam Gold took home the award for Best Direction of a Musical, also for Fun Home.

Writing and Composing Awards

fun homeWhereas the creators of straight plays are honored through the awards for Best Play and Best Revival of a Play, separate awards are given to the book writers, as well as the composers and lyricists, of musicals. These awards are in addition to the awards for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical, which are generally accepted by the producers. The award for Best Original Score was given to Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, who wrote the music and lyrics respectively for Fun Home. The award for Best Book of a Musical was also given to Lisa Kron for Fun Home. Whereas this year the award for Best Musical served basically the same purpose as these two awards, sometimes the recipients do differ. In this case, the three separate honors proved irrefutably that Fun Home is the most exciting new musical of the year. Something Rotten!, which was the only show nominated for Best Musical not based on a previous work, was only recognized once, when Christian Borle took home the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. Still, that show was nominated for a total of ten awards, which is certainly no small honor. As for An American in Paris, which was considered to be the next most likely show to win Best Musical, it only took home the awards for Best Choreography for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, and Best Lighting Design, showing that the Tony voters ultimately considered it to be a beautiful ballet show, but not dramatically substantial enough to win the highest honor of the event.

Four Newly Opened Shows Vie for Best Musical

“An American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” “Something Rotten!” and “The Visit”

fun homeOn June 7, 2015, the Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The most prestigious and significant award is arguably that for Best Musical. This year there are four nominees for that honor: An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The Visit. It will certainly be a tough race, and it is difficult to determine which the favorite will be among Tony voters. A somewhat less prominent Broadway awards ceremony, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, just announced their winners, which may or may not presage the Tony results. Of the five nominees for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, three overlap with the Tony nominees, but Fun Home was excluded from the options, while It Shoulda Been You and The Last Ship were also included. The winner was An American in Paris. Still, many believe that Fun Home and also Something Rotten! have a fighting chance at this year’s awards. The Visit, on the other hand, is a nod to its creators John Kander and Fred Ebb, but there is little chance that show will prove victorious on the big day.

Post-Opening Critical Responsesomething rotten

If the critical reaction to these musicals means anything for their Tony prospects, then it does seem that it’s most likely a race between An American in Paris and Fun Home. When An American in Paris opened on April 12, 2015, the New York Times gave it a rave, as did most other critics. Charles Isherwood called the ballet musical adapted from the film of the same name “rhapsodic,” “witty,” and “vivifying.” Of the major press, only David Cote from Time Out New York was on the fence, deeming the quality of the show “patchwork,” though admittedly “lavish,” and believing it to be principally a dance show with a storyline squeezed in between the numbers. As for Fun Home, all the main reviewers were extremely impressed, with Ben Brantley of The New York Times describing Visit-Broadway-Musical-Chita-Rivera-Tickets-176-012818it as a universal detective story. He was relieved and revitalized by the breath of fresh air that this show is in comparison to the often recycled nature of Broadway fare. Furthermore, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York found Fun Home to be graceful and moving. As for Something Rotten!, many critics were moved and delighted by this original take on the origin of the musical in Shakespearean times, but the most well regarded critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, vehemently disagreed. He was not impressed by the unchecked enthusiasm on display, and he was bored by the repetitive nature of the wannabe showstopper. Still, many other critics were impressed, such as David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter, who found the show rambunctious and magnificently cheesy. As for The Visit, the reviews were decidedly mixed.

If Box Office Has Any Bearing on the Awardsan american in paris

Furthermore, the box office response is interesting to consider in light of the show’s potential at the Tony Awards. Ever since the Tony nominations were announced in late April, An American in Paris has been firmly in the millionaire’s club, which cannot be said of any of the other three nominees. This past week, the week ending May 17, 2015, the show brought in $1,280,111, which represents 87.01% of its gross potential. It was full to 99.9% capacity, which demonstrates a small amount of discounting. Fun Home, on the other hand, is having a more difficult time attracting an audience. Though reviews are splendid and buzz is abounding, the highest week thus far, which was this past week, brought in a weekly gross of $587,716, representing 78.85% of its gross potential. The show is playing in the much smaller Circle in the Square Theatre, but still it is having difficulty keeping up with An American in Paris, even in terms of percentage of gross potential. Nevertheless, this past week it had filled 102.5% of its audience capacity, so the energy is high in the theatre and excitement is sure to pick up as the Tony’s approach. Something Rotten! has also been creeping up since the Tony nominee announcements, reaching a high this past week of $950,418, representing 91.74% of its gross potential. The Visit, on the other hand, is barely staying afloat, bringing in only $211,430 this past week, which represents only 27.72% of its gross potential. Chances are that The Visit will close soon after the Tony Awards.

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth to Host Tony Awards

Two Tony Winners Emcee on June 7th

alan cumming kristin chenowethOn June 7, 2015, the 69th Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The hosts have been announced: Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. These two beloved stars are both Tony winners themselves, and they also both starred in musicals that played this season. Alan Cumming revived his magnificent role as the Emcee of Cabaret in this past year’s revival, a role that he played opposite first Michelle Williams, then Emma Stone, and finally Sienna Miller. As that production was an exact revival of an earlier revival production, with the same directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, as well as the same star Alan Cumming playing the Emcee, it was not eligible for the Best Revival award category. As such, Cabaret did not receive any nominations this year. However, Alan Cumming did receive the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for playing that role in the 1998 production of Cabaret. As an award-winning emcee, therefore, he is the perfect emcee for this awards event. Furthermore, Kristin Chenoweth starred in On the Twentieth Century, a revival of a musical comedy by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Cy Coleman. That production has received five Tony Award nominations, including one for Kristin for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Its other nominations are those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Andy Karl, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design.

A Broadway History of Alan Cummingalan cumming

On top of the two productions of Cabaret, Alan Cumming has been on Broadway an additional three times. In 2001, he played Otto in a production of Noel Coward’s Design for Living. In 2006, he played Macheath in a production of The Three Penny Opera. And very notoriously, in 2013, he played Macbeth in a one-man production of that Shakespeare classic, first at Lincoln Center and then at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. In addition to his Tony Award for the earlier revival of Cabaret, Cumming has received four Olivier Awards: the British equivalent of the Tonys. He received an analogous award for his role in Cabaret in 1994. He also received an Olivier Award for the Comedy Performance of the Year for La Bete in 1993. Before that, he received the same comedy award for his performance in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and he was commended as Best Newcomer in a Play by the Oliviers in 1988 for Conquest of the South Pole.

A Broadway History of Kristin Chenoweth

kristin chenowethAs for Kristin, she has been nominated for Tony Awards twice before, winning one. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1999 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. In 2004, she was nominated for her role as Glinda in Wicked for the award for Best Actress in a Musical, although she did not win (instead, Idina Menzel won the same award for the same production for her role as Elphaba). This is now her third Tony Award nomination. Furthermore, she starred as Fran Kubelik in Promises, Promises in 2010, and she played Eve among other roles in the 2006-2007 production of The Apple Tree. Before Wicked, she also played Louise Goldman in the 1999 production of Epic Proportions as well as a series of roles in the 1997 production of Steel Pier, as well as her star turn in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Who Chooses The Tony Award Nominees?

Voters and Nominators

The Tony Awards are an immensely important event for the theatre community, distinguishing the top honors for shows and artists, making and sometimes breaking careers. Presently, there are approximately 700 Tony Voters – that is, people to whom free tickets are allotted for all Broadway shows in a given year, and who then get to place their vote for each category. It is expected that voters will attend all nominated productions so that they are able to make informed decisions. This group of individuals is made up of members of the Broadway League, which includes many Broadway producers, in addition to members of the governing boards of the Actors Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild, as well as unions and organizations of directors, choreographers, scenic designers, theatre press agents, and theatre casting agents.

A Larger Group of Nominators Chosen for the 2014-5 Season

Though 700 people ultimately get to vote for the awards, it is alarming how few individuals get to decide who is nominated in the tony awards statuefirst place – that is, the Tony Nominating Committee. In past years, this has included only about 30 people, made up of theatre professionals. This small group decided, for example, that Denzel Washington would not be nominated for Best Actor this year for his role in A Raisin in the Sun, and that Bullets over Broadway would not be in the running for Best Musical. These people see all new Broadway productions and then meet shortly after the Tony eligibility deadline to determine the nominations using secret ballots. For the 2014-5 season, a new group of Tony Nominators was just announced. Perhaps due to criticism about how small that select group has been in past years, this year it will consist of 50 individuals.

Who Are These Esteemed Individuals?

The range of theatre professionals included in this group is impressive. It includes, for instance, the leadership of certain New York not-for-profit theatre institutions including Arin Arbus, the Associate Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience; Douglas Aibel, the Artistic Director of the Vineyard Theatre; Christian Parker, the Associate Artistic Director of the Atlantic Theater Company; Arlene Shuler, the President and CEO of New York City Center; and Preston Whiteway, the Executive Director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. It also includes individuals affiliates with university arts programs, including Mark Brokaw, the Artistic Director of the Yale Institute for Musical Theatre (also a prominent director); Mary Schmidt Campbell, the Dean of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU; Kent Gash, the Founding Director of NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio on Broadway; and Ravi S. Rajan, the Dean of the School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase. This year’s group also includes journalists such as John Darnton, the former Cultural Editor of The New York Times; Corby Kummer, a Senior Editor at the Atlantic Magazine; and Jim McLaughlin, the Former Producer at CBS News/ TV Features.

mary louise parkerThe 2014-5 Nominating Committee also includes actors such as Harvey Evans, Cheyenne Jackson, Dick Latessa, John Leguizamo, Marsha Mason, Debra Monk and Mary-Louise Parker. There are designers such as Paul Gallo (lighting designer), Wendall K. Harrington (projection designer), Ann Hould-Ward (costume designer), Roger Morgan (lighting and theatre designer), Wynn Thomas (production designer), and Robin Wagner (scenic designer). There are other prominent creatives including Scott Schwartz (director), Jack Hofsiss (director), Susan Birkenhead (lyricist), Adam Guettel (composer/lyricist), Sara Lukinson (TV writer and documentary film producer), Patricia Marx (American humorist and writer), Donald Byrd (choreographer), and Liza Gennaro (choreographer). There are former or retired producers including Ira Bernstein and Barry Brown, and other arts organization leadership such as Ben Cameron (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), Veronica Claypool (Full Circle Management Group), Paul Cremo (Metropolitan Opera), Jacqueline Davis (New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center), Jenny Gersten (Friends of the High Line), Philip Himberg (Sundance Institute Theatre Program), Reynold Levy (former president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), and Linda Shelton (Joyce Theater Foundation).

With an increased number of nominators, the race will hopefully be more equitable this year. However, there will always be more qualified individuals and shows than there are nominee slots, and these individuals will surely need to make some tough decisions.

The Winners Are In For The 68th Annual Tony Awards!

Hugh Jackman Hosts, Many Tune In

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall.  As anticipated, they were a gigantic success, and Hugh Jackman received enormous praise for his hosting prowess.  Much discussion was had about Jackman’s very bouncy opening number, which was as aerobic as it was silly, but still it was a very fun way to start the show.  This is the fourth time that Jackman has hosted the event, while another frequent host Neil Patrick Harris took home the award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Though that category was pretty much considered to be a shoe-in, many other winners took the audience and theatre fans worldwide by surprise.  The ceremony was also full of spectacular performances by nominated shows.  7.02 million viewers tuned in to watch the live telecast on CBS, which was a dip from last year’s ratings of 7.24 million viewers.  Unlike other awards shows, there was no official online live stream of the event, but still many people have been watching online clips since the event’s original airing.

a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyTied for the Most Wins: A Gentleman’s Guide and Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As many predicted, the Tony Award for Best Musical went home with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a sleeper hit that beat strong odds to win this coveted award.  This show also earned the award for Best Direction of a Musical for Darko Tresnjak, the artistic director of Hartford Stage where the show first premiered.  He is the first Connecticut artistic director ever to win a Tony Award, and the first Broadway transfer for that theatre since 2003’s Enchanted AprilA Gentleman’s Guide also took home the awards for Best Book of a Mhedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titleusical (Robert L. Freedman) and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho), which tied it for the most wins: four.  The other show to win four awards was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which took home the award for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.  Furthermore, Hedwig earned the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Lena Hall, who played a female to male drag character Yitzhak, as well as Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams).

A Raisin in the Sun, Twelfth Night, Lady Day, All the Way, and all the rest

The most awards for a straight play went to A Raisin in the Sun, which earned three: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo), and Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon).  This is Leon’s first Tony win; he was also nominated for 2010’s Fences, which like Raisin starred Denzel Washington.  In his acceptance speech, Leon made it clear that he believes Washington was snubbed in not receiving a nomination for his role.  Another winning play was Twelfth Night, which took home two awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance as Olivia), and Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani).  This is Mark Rylance’s third Tony win, and the first time his acceptance speech did not consist of a poem by Louis Jenkins.  In addition, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill took home two awards: Best Performance by anTwelfth Night Shakespeare play poster Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy).  At the age of only 43, this is Audra McDonald’s record-setting sixth Tony win, and she is also now the only person to have earned a Tony Award in all four acting categories.  Finally, Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way took home the award for Best Play, and Bryan Cranston earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for portraying Lyndon B. Johnson in that play.

Beautiful Broadway ShowThe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical went to Jessie Mueller for portraying Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which also took home the award for Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan).  The Bridges of Madison County was the only nominated musical not to perform at the event, and yet it earned two awards for Jason Robert Brown: Best Original Score (he wrote the music and lyrics), and also Best Orchestrations.  Rocky won the award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca), and After Midnight won the award for Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle).  Act One took home the award for Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt), and Aladdin earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (James Monroe Iglehart).  The Glass Menagerie took home the award for Best Lighting Design of a Play (Natasha Katz), which is the first time this play has ever earned a Tony Award of the course of its seven productions across history.

The shows that were nominated but failed to win any awards were Bullets over Broadway, Cabaret, Casa Valentina, The Cripple of Inishmaan, If/Then, Les Misérables, Machinal, Mothers and Sons, A Night with Janis Joplin, Of Mice and Men, Outside Mullingar, Richard III, The Velocity of Autumn, and Violet.  Still, this was a year in which no show earned more than four awards, with the winners being fairly well dispersed.  In any case, the winners will surely see a box office boost from their Tony Awards, most notably A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which will most certainly attract many more theatregoers now that it has taken home the honor of Best Musical.

2014 Tony Award Winners:

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Freedman)
Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak)
Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho)

Best Revival of a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams)

A RAISIN IN THE SUN – 3 Tony Awards
Best Revival of a Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo)
Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon)

ALL THE WAY – 2 Tony Awards
Best Play (Author: Robert Schenkkan)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Bryan Cranston)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jessie Mueller)
Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan)

Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown)
Best Orchestrations (Jason Robert Brown)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald)
Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy)

TWELFTH NIGHT – 2 Tony Awards
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani)

ACT ONE – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt)

Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle)

ALADDIN – 1 Tony Award
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (James Monroe Iglehart)

Best Lighting of a Play (Natasha Katz)

ROCKY – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca)

The Tony Awards Ceremony Is This Sunday, June 8th

The Tony Awards Are In Two Days

On this upcoming Sunday, June 8, 2014, the 68th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Hugh 2014 tony awardsJackman.  The nominations, which were announced on April 29, 2014, promise an exciting race that may contain some surprises.  Oftentimes certain categories have obvious shoe-ins, but this year there are many awards for which the winners are presently unclear.  As the date is approaching, many theatre critics have published their predictions, and producers have spent money on advertising to broadcast the nominations of their shows.  However, these efforts are often more to sell tickets than to persuade the approximately 700 Tony voters, who will generally make their decisions based on their own judgments.

Best Play and Best Musical

In the race for Best New Musical, the most likely contender is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which stars Jefferson Mays a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyin a stupendous and versatile leading role.  The other contenders are Disney’s newest show Aladdin, the Harlem jazz revue After Midnight, and the jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  As many shows that were thought to be contenders were left off the nominations list, the most likely winner of these four does seem to be A Gentleman’s Guide, both due to its box office performance and general critical consensus.  As for Best Play, the five nominees are Lincoln Center’s Moss Hart bio-play Act One, Robert Schenkkan’s historical drama about Lyndon Johnson All the Way, Harvey Fierstein’s drag period piece Casa Valentina, the Manhattan Theater Club production of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, and Terrence McNally’s new play Mothers and Sons.  Of these, the most likely contender may very well be All the Way, which took home the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play.

Best Play and Musical Revivals

As for the revivals, in the play category the nominees are Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, John Tiffany’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, Kenny Leon’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, and the all-male Globe transfer of Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance.  That race will be tight, but it is most likely down to The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night.  The musical revival nominees are Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, Les Misérables, and the Roundabout Theater Company production of Violet.  This last category could be said to have a shoe-in prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lead Acting Categories

The nominees for Best Leading Actor in a Play are Samuel Barnett from Twelfth Night, Bryan Cranston from All the Way, Chris O’Dowd from Of Mice and Men, Mark Rylance from Richard III, and Tony Shalhoub from Act One.  The nominees for Best Actress in a Play are Tyne Daly from Mothers and Sons, LaTanya Richardson Jackson from A Raisin in the Sun, Cherry Jones from The Glass Menagerie, Audra McDonald from Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Estelle Parsons from The Velocity of Autumn.  Interestingly, neither of these categories has an obvious winner, and thus the race will be very exciting to watch this coming Sunday.  As for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, that award will most surely go to Neil Patrick Harris from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the award for Best Actress in a Musical is less sure, with the nominees being Sutton Foster from Violet, Idina Menzel from If/Then, Jessie Mueller from Beautiful, Kelli O’Hara from The Bridges of Madison County, and Mary Bridget Davies from A Night with Janis Joplin.tony awards statue

In any case, Sunday is sure to be a thrilling evening, with careers being boosted, the lives of shows being extended, and producers taking home their prize trophies.  Tune in at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

The 2014 Tony Nominations Are Announced

2014 tony awards

It is always a time of great anticipation.  The Tony Awards, the most prestigious awards ceremony for Broadway, mean a great deal to the fate of plays and musicals, often dictating tourist picks throughout the summer and certainly adding a measure of prestige for the award recipients.  This year, the Tony Awards ceremony will be held on June 8, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall.  The nominations were just announced.

The Nominations
Leading the list of shows with the highest number of nominations is the new musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which received 10 nominations.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch followed with a respectable 8, and four shows tied next with 7 nominations: After Midnight, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Twelfth Night, and The Glass Menagerie.  The Tony Nominating Committee adopted a new rule this winter, which allows each category to select up to five contenders, if deemed appropriate due to the votes being close enough in the final tally.  Despite this fact, several categories still have only four or three nominees, even when those supposed to be serious contenders were left out of the running.  For instance, the category of Best Musical includes only four nominees – After Midnight, Aladdin, Beautiful, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – even while Bullets Over Broadway, If/Then, The Bridges of Madison County, and Rocky were all left out.

2014 tony awardsThe Snubs
You cannot make everyone happy all the time, but perhaps the most notable snub was Will Eno’s new play The Realistic Joneses, which did not receive any nominations.  Critics have hypothesized that this is because the nominating committee was turned off by the show’s unusual structure and provocative subject matter, while the plays that were selected were all more conventional, if significantly less moving or original.  These nominees for Best Play are Act One, All the Way, Casa Valentina, Mothers and Sons, and Outside Mullingar, most of which received moderate to mixed reviews.  The category for Best Revival of a Musical includes only three titles – Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Misérables, and Violet – though the only other contender, Cabaret, was blatantly left off the list.  The four titles chosen for Best Revival of a Play are The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun, and the all-male production of Twelfth Night.

Other Surprises
Not appearing on the Tony nomination list includes Daniel Radcliffe, who did not receive a nomination for Best Actor for his role in The Cripple of Inishmaan, despite having received magnificent reviews.  This marks the third time he has starred on Broadway yet failed to be nominated for a Tony Award, it seems that he cannot shake his Harry Potter persona, albeit in the eyes of the Tony Award committee.  Other actors who were astonishingly left out of the running include Denzel Washington for A Raisin in the Sun, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart who co-starred in the repertory productions of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot, as well as Zachary Quinto who was the only star of The Glass Menagerie to be left off.  Other shows that did not receive any nominations – some to great surprise – are the box-office smash Betrayal, the big-budget musical Big Fish, and the musicals Soul Doctor, First Date, and the revival of Cabaret.

Interestingly, all the nominees for Best Director of a Play were for revivals, rather than new plays.  These are John Tiffanytony awards statue for The Glass Menagerie, Kenny Leon for A Raisin in the Sun, Tim Carroll for Twelfth Night, and Michael Grandage for The Cripple of Inishmaan.  Perhaps the nominating committee prefers to acknowledge the work of directors who revive older works, rather than those who create the first Broadway production of a new play.  They failed to recognize Bill Rauch for All the Way and James Lapine for Act One, both of whom worked magic with large casts.

Furthermore, it is notable that no women were nominated for play directing awards, and only one woman was nominated for directing a musical: Leigh Silverman for Violet.  What’s more, none of the ten new plays this season were written by women.  In fact, women were notably few amongst the nominees overall – with the clear exceptions of the Best Actress categories.  Patrick Healy of The New York Times postulated that this is because men in power often choose those with whom they have a friendly relationship for high-up positions in the theatre, so it often turns out that men serve these roles.

Hugh Jackman to Host the 2014 Tony Awards, Sunday June 8, 2014

Hugh Jackman at the Tony AwardsOn June 8, 2014, Hugh Jackman will host the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This is the fourth time the Tony Award winning actor will host the event, previously having emceed the Tony’s in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Jackman is a favorite among Broadway audiences, as proven by the stupendous box office success of his limited engagement one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway in 2011, as well as A Steady Rain in 2009 where he played opposite Daniel Craig.  He earned the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in The Boy from Oz, in which he performed for a year.  He was also recognized with a special Tony Award in 2012 for his work to raise money and awareness for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  He will appear on Broadway next season in Jez Butterworth’s play The River, with performances set to begin early 2015.

Jackman’s film credits include the role of Wolverine in the first installment of the X-Men Series, which he reprised in subsequent films X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.  In addition, he recently starred in Warner Bros’ 2013 film Prisoners, and he will also play Blackbeard in Warner Bros’ upcoming Pan.  In a more relevant role, he starred as Jean Valjean in the 2012 musical film adaptation of Les Misérables, for which he received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award.

2014 tony awardsIn 2005, Jackman received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for his role in hosting the 2004 Tony Awards, and he was nominated for the same honor in 2006 for his efforts in 2005.  In 2009, that specific Emmy Award was retired, and thus Jackman cannot expect to win it this year.  However, this past year, the 2012 Tony Awards broadcast did quite well, receiving five nominations at the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Program, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

Hugh Jackman at the Tonys in 2012.

In taking the mic for the fourth time, Jackman will be tied for having hosted the Tony Awards for the most number of times.  Neil Patrick Harris also hosted four times: in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This year, however, Harris is starring in the title role of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and will most likely join Jackman on stage as a nominee.

This is also the second year since the return of the Tony Awards to their long-time home at Radio City Music Hall.  For the two years prior, the Awards were relegated to the Beacon Theatre as Cirque du Soleil was occupying Radio City.  Award attendees were not pleased with the change in venue, as the Beacon was much smaller and required producers to limit their number of guests.  Thankfully, the event has now returned to its more spacious home, where it appears to stay.

The Tony Award nominations will be announced on April 29, 2014.  April 24, 2014 is the last day for Broadway shows to have their official opening and still be eligible for a nomination.  On June 8, 2014, the broadcast will air on CBS from 8:00 – 11:00 pm (live ET / delayed PT).

Tony Awards Broadcast Honored With Emmy Nods

Tony AwardsThis year’s Tony Awards broadcast met with a (rare) chorus of approval from Broadway theater fans — and now the annual awards show is getting recognition from the TV industry as well. The 66th Annual Tony Awards telecast, which aired early last month, has received a total of five Emmy Award nominations.

The 2012 Tony Awards broadcast earned nominations in the categories of Outstanding Special Class Programs; Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics; Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special; Outstanding Music Direction; and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

The Emmy Awards will air on the CBS network on September 22, 2013.