Last year Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 received the ninth annual "ACCA" Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus. Presented by Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA), the ACCA Award is the only industry accolade of its kind to honor the distinctive talents and contributions made by the original chorus members of a Broadway musical.
Past winners include Past Broadway chorus recipients of the ACCA Award are Legally Blonde (2007), In the Heights (2008), West Side Story (2009), Fela! (2010), The Scottsboro Boys (2011), Newsies (2012), Pippin (2013) Beautiful (2014), An American in Paris (2015) and Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (2016).
Upon hearing this news, I was thrilled for the cast but it got me wondering, "why isn't there a Tony Award for this yet?"
Now before the Tony "purists" start in on me, let me make a couple things clear:
1. I don't think a Tony Award should become a participation ribbon.
2. I know there are some areas of theatre that would be near impossible to properly adjudicate, ie. Stage Manager.
However, the overall performance of members in the ensemble is an area that certainly could be adjudicated as part of the Tony nomination process. From the performance of various roles, conciseness of choreography and harmonization, there is a lot to consider.
And it's not like entire casts or ensembles aren't awarded in other industries. In addition to the ACCA Award, the Screen Actor's Guild also awards entire casts of movies and television shows, even more so, they are the final awards of the ceremony.
I'm not looking to add competition into the Broadway season, but it would be nice to truly recognize these incredibly hard-working performers with more than just a group performance during the telecast(or not, ahem Hello Dolly!).
With all due respect to talent in the lead and featured roles, a quality performance from the ensemble is, in many cases, just as important. They are the bullets in Hamilton, Ozians in Wicked and the groundhog in Groundhog Day. These people play more roles in more performances for less money. And for far too many of them, this might be the only time they perform on these stages.
I sincerely hope the Tony Awards truly step up and recognize these performers and etch their names in Tony history.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this article last year, AEA has started a campaign to make this award a reality at the Tonys. The campaign is title . Everyone On Stage. More info is listed here. The idea? The title. If this happens, I'm taking credit for giving them the idea :)