Why Does Musical.Ly Keep Telling Me I Am Not Eligible Determining Tony Award Nominees and Winners

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Determining Tony Award Nominees and Winners

Since the Tony Awards intend to honor and encourage excellence within the theatre industry, as well as the advancement of its arts, the American Theatre Wing needed to develop eligibility rules and a voting process that would be mindful in serving those ends.

Therefore, based on the idea that it would yield an unfair advantage to allow the more frequently produced plays and musicals to be considered eligible for the most highly prized Tony awards – since they would have benefited from more development time and more familiarity among voters than newer or less frequently produced plays and musicals – in order to be eligible for a Tony Award, it was determined that the Administration Committee must determine that a play or musical is one that:

• has not appeared on Broadway before

• has not yet been determined as a classic

• is not considered to be in the historical or popular repertoire

These eligible plays include those recently transferred to Broadway from Off-Broadway or West End, as well as plays that are based on films. Occasionally, the decisions of the Administration Committee are controversial, as shows ruled ineligible within the new categories are unable to have their authors have any chance at winning the most highly coveted awards of Best Play, Best Musical, Best Score, or Best Book.

To be considered as Broadway theatre, the theatre must house at least 500 seats and be located within or in proximity to New York’s Time Square locale. The Tony Awards Administration Committee makes the final call regarding each theatre’s eligibility.

The Administration Committee, responsible for determining eligibility for each nomination as well as fulfilling other duties, consists of twenty-four total members:

• Ten from the American Theatre Wing

• Ten from the Broadway League

• One from the Daramatists Guild

• One from the Actors’ Equity Association

• One from United Scenic Artists

• One from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

The Nominating Committee, which determines who to nominate in each category, is comprised of a rotating group of theatre professionals, each of whom is selected by the Administration Committee, serves for three years, and is obligated to see every new Broadway production during their time on the committee, then meet after the deadline for Tony eligibility to vote on that year’s nominations.

In 1947, when the Tonys began, the American Theatre Wing determined that eligible voters would include the members of its board, as well as representing management and entertainment union members. In 1954, eligibility was also extended to theater professionals who were not members of the American Theatre Wing, and has since been extended even further. Today, the 700-plus Tony Awards voters consist of:

• the board of directors of the American Theatre Wing

• the Advisory Board of the American Theatre Wing

• voting members of The Broadway League

• members of the Theatrical Council of the Casting Society of America

• governing board members of Actors’ Equity Association

• governing board members of the Dramatists Guild

• governing board members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

• governing board members of United Scenic Artists

• governing board members of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers

The nomination and voting process is supervised by Lutz & Carr, an accounting firm popular for handling various crystal awards ceremonies. They keep the results completely secret until they are announced at the ceremony during the television broadcast.

Since only plays and musicals from one of only 40 large Broadway theatres are eligible for nominations, as decided by the Management Committee of the Tony Awards – and only a fraction of the plays at these locations can be considered as new each season – critics of the awards view the Tonys as a promotional event for just a few of New York’s largest producers and theatre owners. Since there are 27 awards categories, and only a few eligible plays to choose from, most shows that are deemed as new by the Committee are bound to receive at least one nomination.

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