How is Tony Voter turnout?

During my years an Assistant Company Manager on shows like Ragtime, managing Tony Voters was my job.
It’s a pretty stress-filled process, as you can imagine.  You have to reserve hundreds of great seats with the box office (another reason it’s hard to get a good seat to a show), send out invitations, take the orders when the voters call/fax/email, change the orders when the voters call/fax/email again, place the orders, make sure certain voters aren’t sitting next to certain voters, etc.
And you have to answer the calls from the Producers who want to know how it’s going.  My former boss, the recently convicted Garth Drabinsky, used to call me daily. I’d have to give him the # of orders that I took that day, the total voter turnout, and the “mood” of the voters as well.
Obsessive?  Yes.  Justified.  You bet.  (Garth thought that if he could get more people to see Ragtime, he could defeat the hype and spectacle of The Lion King, playing across the street.)
There are only 805 Tony Voters out there, and despite popular belief, our voter turnout is not like the turnout in Malta.  I remember working on my first show and being shocked at the number of voters that failed to exercise their right to vote (never mind get free tickets).
So, I took an unofficial “back-alley” poll of a few of the Tony nominated shows from this past season.  The turnout for the shows that I polled ranged from as low as about 35% to as high as about 80%.  And yes, as you can imagine, the shows with the higher turnout did better on the big day.  Average for all of them in my poll?  About 60%.
60% of 805 is only 483 voters.
Garth was right to obsess about the turnout.  483 bodies casting votes isn’t a lot, when you thing about it. You add another 75 to that number, and you can have a much different result.
I guess that’s why Garth made me call all of the voters that hadn’t made a reservation 4 weeks after the invitations were out.
High turnout is essential for every show (especially the underdogs), but it’s also essential for our industry (and for our country).  Individual shows should do everything they can to encourage actual turnout (as opposed to Iran-type turnout), as should The League.
And maybe we should consider taking away voting rights for those that haven’t voted in several years.
It shouldn’t be a luxury. It should be a duty.
  • DHicton says:

    Oh god, that means you and I used to have the same boss once. I was in the Livent sales department around when they were doing Ragtime. I was also the only person I knew in the company who didn’t exhibit any fear of Garth Drabinsky or treat him with any deference. I’m not sure if he considered my egalitarian behaviour towards him as refreshing or as insolent, but I didn’t much care — he wipes himself after going to the bathroom just like everyone else.
    Small world!

  • Richard says:

    Amen to what you said, Ken.

  • MJohannes says:

    Not to mention the number of industry professionals who have their spouses or secretaries fill out their ballots. (whether or not they’ve seen the nominated shows.)I’ve personally witnessed this on several occasions.

  • Jeff Pluth says:

    That was very enlightening (and frustrating) to read about the Tony voter turn-out. Well said and right on the mark. Keep stirring!

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