Theater: Tonys shake up nomination rules for major categories

By Meryl Gottlieb | | @buzzlightmeryl
The 68th annual Tony Awards will air on CBS on June 8


Everything is coming up Tonys!

The award show is garnering attention after Variety reported the Tony Awards administration committee met last month and voted to allow the number of nominees in the Best Musical, Best Play, Best Musical Revival and Best Play Revival categories increase to five, rather than four nominees, if there are nine or more eligible shows to choose between. They also said if there are less than nine possible shows in a category, the number of nominees could be reduced to three. 

The list for contenders for the Best Musical award is extensive; there are 12 musicals that opened or are set to open during or before the eligibility period for this year’s Tonys. Those musicals are First Date, Soul Doctor, Big Fish, A Night with Janis Joplin, After Midnight, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murdei, Beautiful, The Bridges of Madison County, Rocky, Aladdin, If/Then and Bullets Over Broadway. Plus, there are the off-Broadway shows that feature prominent Broadway artists: Hedwig and the Angry Inch with Neil Patrick Harris and Violet featuring Sutton Foster.

In other words, there is going to be one HOT contest for the award this year. If you know me, you know I’m gunning for First Date but that’s just because I’m obsessed with Zachary Levi. But in all seriousness, it is also a great musical.

The 2013-2014 season also saw about a dozen play revivals, meaning that category will most likely see the increase. Those plays are: Romeo and Juliet, The Winslow Boy, The Snow Geese, Betrayal, Twelfth Night/Richard III, 700 Sundays, Macbeth, No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot, Machinal, A Raisin in the Sun and Of Mice and Men.

What’s interesting is that though the new rule is in place, Variety said it may not mean nominators will select five musicals or plays for the respective categories.

Just like when the Oscars expanded its Best Picture nominations from five to 10, the Tonys’ move is simply another tool to recognize more material while also giving more time for Broadway to shine on-air to millions of viewers. The Tonys do an excellent job of enticing viewers to see the Best Musical nominees as each nominated show gets to perform a number. Having an extra nominee in the category will simply mean one more show will profit from the accolade of being a “Tony nominee,” which actually means something in the theater world and to the theater audience.

The eligibility cutoff date for this year’s Tonys is April 24 and the nominees will be announced on April 29.

What’s your favorite show currently on Broadway? Which new show are you looking forward to the most? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl (I love to chat theater, so, seriously, let me know.)


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