Friday, May 3, 2013

Tony Voter Disinvitations

The Tony Award nominations were announced this week and as usual, the arguments about who was or was nominated erupted as if on cue. It has become as much of the Tony season as any other aspect of it.

Some shows, after being snubbed by the Tony Nominating Committee, made the unusual but not unprecedented move of disinviting all Tony Voters from their shows. Tony voters typically receive complimentary tickets for all Tony eligible productions. By doing this, the producers of these shows stand to make a great deal of money, or lose less money than otherwise, now that these hundreds of prime seats could be sold at premium or even just at full price. Given the limited run status of I'll Eat You Last * and Macbeth, it's hard to argue from an economic standpoint.

One other show also disinvited Tony Voters, but in a very different way.  The Testament of Mary will close this week after an abbreviated run due to a lack of business, in spite of its odd and singular nomination in the Best Play category. Very few Tony Voters will see this show, or be able to honestly vote on it according to Tony voting rules.

I may be going out on a limb here, but nominating a one woman show for Best Play, and not in either the Best Actress or Best Director categories as well, seems quite incongruous to me. I wonder if this show would have been nominated if it had been mounted earlier in the year and played an equally short run. We'll never know, of course.

What we do know is The Testament of Mary is taking up a slot that seems impossible for it to win, what with the Tony Voters being unable to see it and vote on it. What to do? I'm glad you asked.

The best solution, as I see it, would be for the producing team of Testament of Mary, led by Scott Rudin, to approach the Tony Nominating Committee and request that their show be removed from consideration for the Best Play Award. By making such an overture, it would help the Tony Nominators out of an embarrassing situation and allow a different production, viewed by the requisite number of Tony Voters, to have a chance at the award. It would also make the category more competitive, as there would be four shows with a real mathematical chance rather than three. Drama is, after all, what this is all about, isn't it?

The Tony Awards has always made it up as it goes along anyway. This year alone, the four child stars of Matilda were excluded from their acting category but given a 'special' Tony award in recognition of their monster hit status, I mean work. There is no reason not to correct the Best Play category.

In a recent NY Times article, the writer of Testament of Mary, Colm Toibin seemed quite at peace with the way things have turned out for his show. He is looking forward to several new scheduled productions of Testament around the world.

Scott Rudin is one of the most successful producers on Broadway, and is known for bringing thoughtful and edgy work to the stage. If there were anyone with the stature or gumption to make such a move as I'm advocating here, it would most certainly be Scott Rudin.

And the publicity...never a bad thing... 

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