What’s the Latest?
For the first time in nine years, the 2015 Tony Awards will not include categories honoring excellence in sound design for either plays or musicals. The Tony Awards Administration Committee met on Wednesday to determine eligibility for the 2014-15 season and decided that sound design would be the casualty in dropping the number of competitive categories to 25. The news has not gone over well with sound designers and other theatre professionals across the country. As of this posting, a petition calling for the awards’ reinstatement has reached 13,000 signatures.
What’s the Big Idea?
While most people think of the Tonys as theatre’s version of the Oscars, only plays and musicals produced “on Broadway” are eligible to win them. With Broadway’s mass commercialization over the past few decades, New York’s most famous theatre district has become less recognized as the apex of theatrical achievement and more the apex of theatrical employment. There’s a ton of money on the Great White Way but not a lot of risk as producers turn to the lowest common denominator of theatre audiences (namely, tourists). Thus, the faire has been — well — just take a look for yourself. The lineup of productions is littered with movie adaptation musicals and play revivals serving as vehicles for Hollywood stars whose talents don’t always translate to the stage.
So it comes as no surprise that the awards show (or giant advertisement) plans on packing in more celebrities, glitz, and glamour while shunning the behind-the-scenes artists who make it all possible. The Tonys are now basically the equivalent of if Orlando held an awards show to dole out statues for “Best New Rollercoaster” to Disney World and Universal Studios, et al. It’s a tourism awards show masquerading as a theatre awards show.
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