By Phoebe Geer and YesBroadway Curator-in-Chief Sam
“There are 10 things you need to know”…about the Tonys!
They may be several months away, but gaining some perspective on what the Tony Awards are all about early in the season will help you appreciate them even more come June. Here's how they work.
#1. The process starts with nominations, which are voted upon by a group of 50 people. They see every new Broadway show, and then nominate shows by secret ballot. Our favorite current nominator is Debra Monk, who plays an excellent overbearing stage mom in the ballet movie tour-de-force Center Stage and the first-chair oboist in Mozart in the Jungle.
#2. Only shows that opened on Broadway that season are eligible. The 2017 season ends on April 27. The only performers eligible for nominations are those who performed on the official opening night of any show that opened that season. Replacement cast members and shows that have been open for more than a year: you’re outta luck! Many shows try to open as close to the deadline as possible, so that it is fresh in the minds of voters (see below).
#3. There are 24 administration committee members. They get to determine what shows are eligible for nominations and what categories performers are eligible in (lead vs featured, etc.). The power, oh, the power!
#4. The winners are selected by a pool of around 850 Tony voters. Voters are “expected to” refrain from voting in any category where they have not seen all the nominees. We are sure everyone adheres to this honour code, right?
#5. A really good time to see a new Broadway show is in May when performers are rocking it out extra hard at every performance to get the attention of the Tony voters who are in the audience that night.
#6. While we’re getting all British on your ass (note “honour” spelling above), a show imported to NYC from London or anywhere else is allowed to be considered “new” for Tony Award purposes.
#7. Nothing sells like a Broadway revival, but there are separate Tony categories for new Broadway productions of good old beloved shows like Hello, Dolly! and new shows like Dear Evan Hansen. Acting nominees are grouped together in one category, though.
#8. The 2017 Tony Awards will be on June 11th on CBS.
#9. We don’t know who is hosting this year yet...but, we bet it won’t be Ivanka Trump, who we once saw texting her way through a Broadway play.
#10. Hamilton broke the record in 2016 for the most nominations ever at 17, but it only won 11 of 12 possible awards (because multiple performers were nominated in the same category, the max it could have won was 12). The one thing it couldn't beat? Cynthia Erivo’s legendary performance in The Color Purple.
*WTF upsets for Best Musical:
1958: The Music Man beat West Side Story. Maybe gangs were too scary for 1950's Tony voters.
1969: The musical 1776 beat Hair. Even Broadway wasn't ready for the sexual and cultural revolution yet.
2004: Avenue Q beat Wicked. I don't think the producers of Wicked are upset, though, considering the show has been running for more than a decade now! Also, as long as Idina Menzel got that Tony Award for playing Elphaba...we're cool! See her speech here:
*The Producers won 12 Tony Awards in 2001, the most ever!
*Audra McDonald has 6 Tony Awards, the most for of any performer in the history of Broadway.
*The person who has hosted the Tony Awards the most? Angela Lansbury at 5 times. Neil Patrick Harris is a close second with 4 years as host. Here she is with Bea Arthur performing at the 1987 Tony Awards, which she hosted!
*Many people agree that Jennifer Holliday’s “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls in 1982 is the best Tony Awards performance of all time. Check out this video starting around the 3:20 mark and throw everything you thought you knew about good performances out the window. The world has never been the same after this moment in Broadway history!
YesBroadway plans extensive Tony Award coverage this spring and summer. Add us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram now to get ready!