Every Award season, the Tony Awards voting committee gives four “Special” Tony Awards. Often, these are the first awards to be decided, and most are granted before the actual televised ceremony.
So what are these awards, and how can someone be qualified for them?
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre
The longest-running non-competitive Tony, this award was established in 1947 and has been awarded consistently into the present season.
This award is largely presented to individuals in recognition of their “body of lifetime work”, although some partners and groups have also won the award. Most recipients are still living upon receiving this award, but many are given posthumously, as was the case with Brock Pemberton in 1950 (as the co-founder of the American Theatre Wing).
Sheldon Harnick (Songwriter, librettist, composer)
Marshall W. Mason (Founding Artistic Director: Circle Repertory Company, director)
1970: Barbara Streisand (Star Of The Decade)
1999: Arthur Miller (Lifetime Achievement)
2008: Stephen Sondheim (Lifetime Achievement in Theatre)
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Initially given in 1948, this Tony became an established award in 1976 and is given to regional theatres that display “outstanding productions and promotion of theatrical arts.” This award is the only to include a monetary prize, which amounts to a $25,000 grant.
The established goal of this award is to promote the creation of new theatre, and no theatre has ever won the award twice. The most common theatre types to win the award are repertory theatres and Shakespeare companies.
Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey)
1997: Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2008: Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
This award is named for the late president of the American Theatre Wing, Isabelle Stevenson, and is the youngest of the Special Tonys, first being awarded in 2009.
The Isabelle Stevenson Tony is given to “an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre.”
Brian Stokes Mitchell (for his work with The Actors Fund)
2013: Larry Kramer for his work as one of the founders of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
2014: Rosie O’Donnell for her work and commitment to arts education in New York City Public Schools
Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre
Created in 1990, this award was designed to recognize “institutions, individuals, or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre” but who are not eligible to compete in any of the current competitive Tony Award categories.
Seth Gelblum (Theatre and Entertainment Lawyer)
Joan Lader (Vocal Coach)
Sally Ann Parsons (Costume Design/Tech)
1993: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids
1995: National Endowment For The Arts
2013: Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro, the four actresses who share the lead in Matilda: the Musical (awarded jointly to all four girls)