With the Tony Nominations Ceremony just around the corner (broadcast tomorrow!), it’s now time to dive into how it becomes possible for a show to be nominated. Ever wondered what classifies a show as “being on Broadway”? How about what qualifies a person to be on the voting committee? We’ve got it covered here.
Rules: New Play or Musical
For this award, a new play or musical is considered one that hasn’t previously been produced on Broadway and isn’t determined to be “classic” (in the historical repertoire). This decision is made by the Tony Admin. Committee, who were discussed in our previous post. The “classics” rule was decided on in 2002, and says that shows transferred from Off-Broadway or the West End are eligible as “new”, as are productions based closely on films or books. This is certainly the case this season, where many shows, including School of Rock, Misery, and Tuck Everlasting, are all based off of priorly published material.
This rule has been the subject of some controversy, as some feel that allowing plays and musicals that have been frequently produced to be eligible as “new” gives them an unfair advantage, because they are more familiar with the Tony voters. On this flip side of this in the current season is Shuffle Along, which although based on the 1921 show of the same name, features a plot about the production of the original show, as well the legacy the show had in the theatre world.
There are approximately 868 eligible Tony Award voters, which is a number that changes slightly from year to year.
Eligible Tony voters include the board of directors and designated members of the American Theatre Wing, members of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, United Scenic Artists, and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. There are also members of the Theatrical Council of the Casting Society of America and voting members of The Broadway League.
To be eligible for Tony Award consideration and nominations, a show must have officially opened on Broadway by the eligibility date established by the Management Committee. Like the number of eligible voters, this date also changes from year to year. For the 2015-2016 season, the cut-off date for opening was April 28, 2016.
A Broadway theatre is currently defined as having 500 or more seats, among other requirements. While the official rules define a Broadway theatre in terms of its size, not its geographical location, the list of Broadway theatres is determined only by the Tony Admin Committee. As of the 2015-2016 season, the list of eligible “Broadway” theatres consists of 40 theatres in the New York Met area, almost all in the Theatre District.