5 Reasons why we shouldn’t have gotten rid of Special Theatrical Event this season.

Immediately following last year’s Tony Awards, the Admin Committee decided to strike the “Special Theatrical Event” Tony from the list of trophies that it would hand out in the future.

The Special Event kudos was created following the bizarre Best Musical win in 2000 for Susan Stroman’s dance piece, Contact, which lacked an original score and a live orchestra (and was even billed as a “dance play”).

I wrote about my disappointment over the demise of this category when it happened.  Now, almost a season later, I’ve come up with five more reasons why the Special Event should have stuck around.

Those five reasons are:

1.  Wishful Drinking

2.  Burn The Floor

3.  All About Me

4.  Come Fly Away

5.  Sondheim on Sondheim

(And could Fela! have lobbied for Special Event, rather than try and go up against Addams Family or American Idiot?  It would have lost the lobby, but it would have been interesting.)

While I understand the theory of cutting the category, I’m not sure I understand why it couldn’t continue on an “as needed” basis.  Surely there was enough “specialness” this year to warrant at least three nominations and one trophy.  Otherwise, is it really fair for Wishful Drinking to have to compete against Enron for a nomination for Best Play?  And what about the reverse?  If Come Fly Away pulls a Contact and gets nominated for Best Musical (despite using Frank Sinatra vocals and being primarily a dance piece), another more conventional and maybe even original musical may get snubbed.  I know if I were a producer of a snubbed original, I’d be pretty peeved.  And this specific example could very well happen, as I hear Fly Away is fantastic.  I smell trouble, with a capital T and that stands for Tony.

If the Admin Committee does really want to do away with the category, there is another way to prevent the above nightmare from happening.

Expand the number of nominees for Best Musical when needed, as I discussed here.

Awards are about celebrating our community’s artistic achievement first, and about marketing second.  I’m not sure how setting this amount of artistry aside accomplishes either.

Comments
  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    Agreed! And especially these days when it seems full scale shows with large budgets are being replaced by smaller, non traditional Broadway fare

  • I agree. I don’t understand why the rules are so stringent. They should be more fluid and change from season to season depending on what’s on the boards. Why couldn’t one year have 8 best actress noms and another 3? Shouldn’t the kudos be divvied up according to what the traffic will allow (to mangle the master)?

  • Danielle says:

    I agree. Whenever I see that a new show is opening on Broadway, I immediately classify it as “musical,” “play,” or “special event.” The elimination of the “special event” category was a big mistake on the part of the Tony committee. But then again, I think that there needs to be a separate musical category for “original musicals” (not based on movies or pre-existing songs). Too bad there aren’t enough of these types of musicals to warrant a category of their own. I’m glad we have Off-Broadway for that.

  • Richard says:

    Go ahead and call me cynical.
    Awards are not about achievement over marketing.
    They are always about money.
    Follow the money.
    Maybe we should conduct a poll and ask the voting members who work for or are part of the “Big Three” theater chains to tell us how often they have voted for a show that is (1) not in one of their own theaters and (2) not co-produced by them in some fashion and (3) not already a huge hit prior to voting time (so they can get it possibly into a theater they own on the road).
    I think we all know what the results of that poll would be.

  • Abagail O says:

    I think the Special Event category should not have been eliminated but I also see the point. They might be trying to keep the public from demanding more fluid, year-to-year changes like Kevin Lambert is saying. I think they believe that if these changes start the Tony’s will become longer and more expensive. But I could be wrong.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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