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Do Tony Nominators and Voters really forget the fall?

No one denies that this has been an extraordinary season on Broadway, considering the economic shite-storm the world has been walking through for the past six months.

With so many great productions and so many great actors on the boards, the potential nominees for this year’s Tony Awards were plentiful.  Yet several industry vets are still wondering how a few standout productions and performances were left off the list.
What happened to The Seagull?  And Kristin Scott Thomas?  All My Sons?  Should Equus have been been nominated?  Daniel Radcliffe?  TOS?
As I heard more and more folks ranting about what productions and people were snubbed, I noticed a trend.  Most of the slights were from shows that opened in the Fall.
That begged the question . . . do you stand a better chance of winning a Tony if your show opens in the Spring versus the Fall? (Spring = 1/1 – Tony Cutoff.  Fall = Tony Cutoff – 12/31.)
I dove into IBDB.com and TonyAwards.com to see if there was a seasonal advantage, and here’s what I found out.

Over the past 20 years . . .

  • 65% of the winners of the Best Musical Tony opened in the Spring.
  • 60% of the winners of the Best Play Tony opened in the Spring.

Over the past 15 years (the revival categories are only 15 years old) . . .

  • 67% of the winners of the Best Revival of a Musical Tony opened in the Spring.
  • 87% of the winners of the Best Revival of a Play Tony opened in the Spring.

On average, that means 70% of the Tony Award winners in these four major categories period were Spring productions.

There’s an argument to open when the leaves are coming back on the trees, don’t you think?

I know what you’re thinking . . . more shows open in the Spring, so of course the Spring produces more winners, right?
Wrong.
Over the past 20 years, 51% of Broadway shows opened in the Fall versus 49% in the Spring!
Now do you believe there’s an advantage?
But wait . . . just like on a TV commercial for the slice-o-matic, there’s more!
I also looked at the nominees for these awards.  Does opening in the Spring not only give you a better shot at winning, but also a better shot at getting nominated?
Results, please . . .

Over the past 20 years . . .

  • 64% of the nominees for the Best Musical Tony opened in the Spring.
  • 72% of the nominees for the Best Play Tony opened in the Spring.

Over the past 15 years . . .

  • 60% of the nominees for the Best Revival of a Musical Tony opened in the Spring.
  • 68% of the nominees for the Best Revival of a Play Tony opened in the Spring.

That means 66% of all the Tony Award nominees in these categories were Spring productions.

Shall we give you a another slice-o-matic for the same price?

What about actors and actresses?  Does the time of opening affect the performance awards as well?  Would Kristin and Daniel have been more likely to get nominated if they opened post January 1?

Over the past 20 years . . .

  • 62.5% of the winners of the Best Actor/Actress in a Musical Tony were from Spring shows.
  • 75% of the winners for the Best Actor/Actress in a Play were from Spring shows.

That’s 68.75% of all the top performance Tony Awards given to actors and actresses in Spring productions.

What about nominations?

Over the past 20 years . . .

  • 60% of the nominees for the Best Actor/Actress in a Musical Tony were from Spring shows.
  • 71% of the nominees for the Best Actor/Actress in a Play were from Spring shows.
What does all this mean?  And why does it happen?
My conclusion is pretty simple:  nominators and voters are human.  They are subject to the same laws of advertising and marketing that we all are.  Shows that are running and being advertised and in the press and being talked about by their families are just more “top of mind” (the goal of advertisers) than shows that have closed, and haven’t had a dime of marketing spent on them in months.  It’s not a conscious decision on their part to give a slight advantage to shows that just opened.  It’s just what happens . . . and now we have the numbers to prove it.
Open in the Fall and there is a statistical disadvantage to being part of the Tony club.

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