Next Year at the Tonys, I’d Rather See Less Performances and More Awards

Anthony J. Piccione

A lot of things went through my mind while I was watching the Tony awards this year. I thought about how relatable The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time seemed to me (and likely many others) to how Sydney Lucas got robbed in the category of Best Featured Actress in a Musical. I thought about how I still can’t get that song at the beginning of the ceremony from Something Rotten out of my head to how all of the nominees for Best Revival of a Musical seem disappointing, at best. Each of those could have been a topic potentially worth discussing on this blog, but there was one recurring thought that kept going through my mind as I was watching the show that I felt needed to be addressed now, which leads me to this idea that I had: Since this is an award ceremony, how about the focus of the broadcast stay on the acceptance of such awards. How do we do that? Try cutting back on musical performances during the ceremony itself.

Over the course of the night, there were countless times when the show went to commercial break, and four people had accepted an award by the time each break was over. There were dozens of these recipients to whom this happened to, particularly people who worked on the more technical aspects of the show.Anyone who truly appreciates theatre knows that it takes more than just the actors, playwrights and directors to make a show come to life, so how come they are the only ones that they have time to show on TV? The answer is, without a doubt, because the musical numbers performed in the ceremony already took up too much time in the schedule. Sure, they might still be able to go home with a Tony award, which alone is an honor that many others would envy. However, try putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine if you were the one that had just received this extraordinary honor. Would it not be ideal to see your acceptance of such an honor televised like it was in the case of many others? Does the fact that the reason they are not broadcasting it not make it even more ridiculous? These people ALL worked hard to make these (mostly) brilliant productions come to life, so they deserve just as much recognition for their work as everyone else, and that includes being fully seen andrecognized by the masses that watched the ceremony on TV.

I know what some people are probably thinking: “The Tonys are about celebrating Broadway theatre, and what better way to do that than with musical performances?” I would agree, but there’s already a place to do that: The shows themselves. That’s where the audiences ought to be able to catch the best highlights of the nominated shows that they might want to see, rather than during the award ceremony before some of these potential viewers even get the chance to go to NYC to see the show. Furthermore, in the era of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, it’s become much easier than it was even a decade ago – for those who do prefer to use seeing the highlights in advanceto decide which shows they might want to go see – to go online and simply find video previews of the shows. A case can even be made that this renders the televised musicals performances during the Tonys – which are supposedly for the viewers at home to see to give them that sneak peek that they want – effectively obsolete. 

With that in mind, this issue is something that the American Theatre Wing should consider when planning next year’s award ceremony. If it is still about the awards – and the individuals who are being honored with them – then the focus should bekept on them. Other award shows (i.e. the Oscars, the Emmys, etc.) might show a maximum 1-minute sneak peek of the nominees in the major categories. Unfortunately, as some might point out, the Tonys cannot afford to do such a small sneak peek. That said, it cannot do full musical numbers either without cutting into time that should be spent on broadcasting more of the award acceptances. Therefore, the only choice left is to simply scrap the musical performances, so that at least a few more of the acceptances can be broadcast in next year’s ceremony. The amount that did not make this year’s broadcast seemed ridiculously high.

What do you think? Do you agree that the focus of the TV broadcast of the Tonys should be more on the acceptances of the awards, rather than the performances? Do you think things are fine the way they are? Either way, let us know what you think in the comments section, and be sure to share this article with anyone who may be interested. We always love to hear what our readers think!

P.S. While we’re on the subject of improving the Tonys…as I stated last month, I still say that Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen should co-host next year’s show.