Awards Season Begins
It's springtime which means it's Awards time. The Outter Critics Circle Awards nominations were recently announced and this will be followed by many other different awarders including the Drama Desk and the Tonys. Many feel that most of the awards are rather meaningless, especially the Outter Critics. Other than stroking a few egos and adding some bio info in Playbills, I can't see much value in awards, except for the Tonys, of course.
And, the Tonys are the most controversial too. Each year the nominating committee is either damned when they do or damned when they don't. They must decide who is eligible for which acting category, or which play is a play and which musical is a musical. Should be a simple job, right? But, it never is and that's half the fun of the Tonys.
The biggest flack was over Contact being made eligible for the Best Musical category. Faster than a speeding bullet, the committee was attacked by the musician's union because no new music was created for Contact and, of course, there are no musicians employed in the Lincoln Center production. A pre-recorded soundtrack is used instead.
Riverdance is a musical too! And the lead dancers can be considered for Best Actor or Actress in a musical. I suppose a musical doesn't need a book either.
Swing can be nominated in the Best Musical category even though its' music, or most of it, comes out of the 1940's big band era.
Dame Edna can't be nominated for anything, but perhaps, a nod with a special award. Meanwhile, Jackie Mason, doing a stand-up comedy show, will be considered for zip. The show, or its producers, didn't invite the Tony voters, thus saving around $70,000.00 in complimentary tickets. The very funny Mr. Mason doesn't, obviously, need any awards; his fans flock to his shows year after year. Even so, his show is simply stand-up schtick, while Dame Edna is a character created by Barry Humpries, and it's the season's comedy hit. Go figure!
And those actors in True West created their own special problem by switching roles every few performances. Of course, it was dumped on the committee to consider a dual nomination. No way was the verdict. Now, if they were joined at the hip that would have been another matter.
Then, of course, there are always actors being placed in categories they shouldn't be. To theatre-goers it's obvious who is a lead and who isn't. But to Producers, it's another story. Year after year, the committee receives requests to place a lead in the Best or Best Supporting category, or vice versa. Rather than go into names here, I'm sure all of you can cite examples. Why billing over the title has anything to do with it I'll never know. Here's a paradox for you. Joel Grey won the Tony in 1967 for Best Featured Actor in a musical (Cabaret). In the very same role 31 year later, Alan Cumming won the Tony for Best Actor in a musical.
The bottom line with a Tony is that it's a marketing tool, and that's why it's more important than any other award. The advertising value is enormous, and to actors and actresses, in addition to receiving the honor, it's an immediate pay raise!
Each year we handicap the Tonys, criticize the committee and the Producers, and, of course, state that most awards are meaningless and worthless. And that's how I feel...but I might be whistling a different tune if the Outter Critics came up with a Best Broadway Theatre Website category. ;)
Tony nominations will be announced May 8 at Sardi's and the awards show is slated for June 4th.
See you Thursday!
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