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This year’s Tony Awards are marked by Covid and a well-worn Broadway business strategy


Time Square, New York, April 8, 2016, Times Square is a main landmark of New York, brightly adorned with billboards and commercials.

William Rodrigues dos Santos

Had this been a regular yr, the Tony Awards would have occurred in June and Broadway can be gearing up for its profitable vacation season. Instead, the Great White Way is predicted to stay shuttered till not less than May 30, 2021, and its annual award ceremony is being hosted this Sunday evening.

The coronavirus pandemic prematurely ended the 2019-2020 Broadway season, limiting the variety of eligible nominees and eliminating the 2020-2021 season solely. This led classes like finest revival and finest unique rating to haven’t any nominations for Sunday’s Tonys and the perfect actor in a main position class to solely have one nominee.

“If the pandemic had come two weeks later, we’d have seen a totally different Tonys,” mentioned Derek Miller, a theater professor at Harvard University.

Setting the stage

The Tonys aren’t simply a time for Broadway handy out awards and rejoice the earlier season of exhibits. The ceremony has turn out to be a huge a part of the trade’s promoting and has influenced how and when producers launch their exhibits.

“The Tonys have become so important that shows are now frontloaded in a season so they open right before the awards,” mentioned Miller. “So a huge number of Broadway shows open in late March and early April.”

Producers need their exhibits to debut proper earlier than the Tonys in order that performances are contemporary in voters’ minds and to make sure that much less of their cash is in danger. With this strategy, a present that debuts in March is just open for round two months earlier than discovering out if it should get a enhance from a Tony nomination.

But this yr, the pandemic prompted closures proper as issues had been gearing up. Initially, exhibits wanted to open by April 23 to be nominated for the 2020 awards. However, after closures had been introduced, the date was amened to Feb. 19.

“This timing turned out to be horrible with the onset of the pandemic in the United States because it meant that theaters shut down right at the point where the last surge of shows set to open,” mentioned Miller.

“Six,” “Hangmen,” “Company,” “The Lehman Trilogy,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Sing Street” and “How I Learned to Drive” had been gearing up for his or her debut, however by no means did.

The energy of a Tony

Just being nominated for a Tony Award brings consideration to a present and will help enhance ticket gross sales. Winning, nevertheless, is the place the true advertising energy lies.

In June 2018, “The Band’s Visit” swept the highest classes on the Tonys, taking house prizes for finest musical, finest ebook, finest rating, finest actor in a musical, finest actress in a musical and finest path of a musical.

In the week following these wins, the present hauled in $1.1 million in ticket gross sales. The final time the musical hit the $1 million gross sales mark for one week of gross sales was the primary week of January 2018.

The 2019 finest musical winner “Hadestown” had been taking part in to bought out crowds even earlier than hitting it large on the Tonys. In whole, the present took house eight prizes and continued to promote out tickets till it was pressured to shutter in March of this yr. At that point, “Hadestown” was averaging $1.2 million in ticket gross sales every week.

For Tony winners this yr, the award might be about status and the potential for monetary achieve for particular person performers, administrators and writers. Those that take house the prize may use it as a strategy to leverage future pay raises or larger worth tags for future initiatives. But, the wins are unlikely to do something for the exhibits themselves.

Miller does not anticipate Broadway’s strategy to alter as soon as the pandemic is beneath management. He foresees producers returning to this system due to how profitable it may be.

“People will, and frankly rightfully, see this as an extremely unusual event to have hit at exactly that right moment,” mentioned Miller.



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